There has always been controversy about the value of SAP Certifications. Some say that the most important thing is hands-on project experience and don’t see much value in certifications, but I believe that the truth is that they are worth it, and that there are multiple reasons to pursue an SAP certification.
Step 1: Find your driver – Why do you want SAP Partner certification?
At a corporate level, if your company is an SAP partner, there are only two objective measures that a customer or SAP can use to compare partners among the 19,000 registered partners globally: the number of reference projects and the number of certified consultants. Thereby, customers can ask for the number of certified consultants during an RFP process. Similarly, it is an SAP requirement when delivering credentials such as Gold Partner or Recognised Expertise status in a particular LoB or industry. If you are curious, in this link you can view the number of certified consultants of each Global Partner by solution area and region.
On a personal level, it is true that there is no substitute for experience. However, the intent of having certifications is to keep your SAP skills updated and validate your expertise, since it is impossible to be SAP certified Partner without having a deep knowledge (and ideally at least some practical experience) in a subject. Additionally, they are excellent personal challenges to be proud of professionally. In my humble opinion, I would recommend getting a certification every 2 or 3 years.
Step 2: Pick your poison – Which SAP certification do you want to pursue?
In this link you can see all the available certifications (currently 144). There are different levels of certifications which are distinguished by a different prefix. A prefix of C denotes Associate, the standard certification and is usually the first that one would target. Prefix P, on the other hand, indicates Professional, the most complete and complex, while E stands for Specialist, indicating a specialization in a specific component. In addition, there are Delta certifications, which provide an update to an Associate certification. You can see the different levels of certifications here.
The best place to see the available SAP certifications is by selecting your area of interest in https://training.sap.com and viewing the courses and certifications related to each area:
Step 3: Know your enemy – Be sure to understand the exam details.
Once you have selected a certification, you can see the number of questions, duration and cut score. Cut score is the score needed to pass the exam. The screenshot below shows the details of the SAP certification: C_BW4HANA_14 – SAP Certified Application Associate – Reporting, Modeling and Data Acquisition with SAP BW/4HANA.
The number of questions, duration and cut score depend on the level of certification: Associate and Professional exams have 80 questions with 180 minutes duration, whilst Specialist and Delta have 40 questions and 90 minutes.
There is also a link where you can take a Sample Assessment with 10 questions. I strongly recommend taking this test not only to see what kind of questions you will be asked during the exam, but also to know how the exam tool looks and works (timer, previous and next question, assessment navigator, etc.).
Since you will be able to check, the number of correct answers is stated in the question. Answering a question correctly results in one point while an incorrect answer gives zero points – don’t worry, wrong answers don’t result in negative points! In the case of multiple response questions, you need to select all correct answers in order to score the point.
Step 4: Can you talk the walk? Prepare for the theory.
From a theoretical point of view, each certification is associated with one or more SAP courses comprising the learnings that cover the information for which you will be tested during the exam. These are shown in the Topic Areas section. Taking up these courses is not a mandatory requirement to be certified, but it is the best way to prepare.
In our example (C_BW4HANA_14), it is recommended to take up these courses: BW405, BW410, BW430 and BW450.
Step 5: Walk the walk. Prepare for the practicals.
In addition to theoretical knowledge, some questions cannot be answered correctly if you do not have at least some practical experience with the product - for example, those related to the user interface and navigation.
In our example, the ideal scenario would be to have worked on several BW/4HANA projects (or spent substantial time on a demo system) before booking the certification.
Step 6: Lock it in! Book your certification
Once you feel adequately prepared, you then have to choose the delivery method and finally book (read: pay for) your certification.
As for the Delivery Method, there are two types: the traditional on-site way of attending an SAP training centre at a specific date and time, and the most latest addition, online, either through Certification Hub or Learning Hub. This allows you to take the exam remotely from anywhere and at any time.
Personally, I recommend the Certification Hub since, for a similar price (in our example: £ 350 versus £ 443), it allows you to attempt up to six different certifications, with a maximum of three attempts each.
The Learning Hub can also be interesting as it includes online training and two exam bookings at a reasonable price (in our example £1,332).
It seems that the traditional on-site method has its days numbered since SAP is migrating its certification program to the Cloud.
Step 7: D-day
The day has finally arrived! Head to the SAP training centre or, if you chose the online option, find a comfortable place that suits you. With the latter, remember that you will have to be in a quiet and secure location and you will be supervised via webcam for the duration of the exam. Please, let’s play fair and safeguard the value of certifications (you know what they say about cheating, you’re only cheating yourself).
Remember to read the questions carefully; there is enough time for each. If you are not sure, I advise you to pick an answer, bookmark the question, move on to the next and be sure to review it at the end.
When you have answered all, quickly review all the questions, making sure that for each question you have marked the number of correct answers stated in the question, then review your bookmarked questions.
Step 8: Alea Jacta Est (press Submit)
Once you are happy with your answers, press the “Submit” button and in just a few seconds, you will be notified of your score, expressed in % and broken down by each topic area.
If you passed, and I’m sure you did, congratulations! Your hard work and efforts have been rewarded. You can now breathe easy for 2 or 3 years, when you will return to step 1.
If you didn’t hit the required score, don’t be dismayed – it’s not the end of the world. My advice is to write down, before you forget, the topic areas in which you struggled and specifically the questions in which you had doubts. The next time, try and improve your knowledge in those areas and make sure you know the answer to the questions (in case they appear again). The waiting time between exams depends on the result; you should schedule it far enough ahead to ensure you are prepared for your problem areas and close enough to not forget what you studied. Personally, I would recommend that you reschedule it within one or two months.
Good luck and happy learning!