Tom Wilder, Senior Lecturer in the College of Business & the Executive Director, SAP University Competence Center, California State University
You have decided to implement SAP as your ERP solution. Everything looks great, except one nagging feeling; where to get the talent needed to run the systems? Not just the technical support, but how to get functional people up to speed on the new system, or hire new employees that have experience using SAP. And, hopefully, understand the business process that runs across the enterprise well enough to know where the data is coming from, how to use it, and where it goes.
In short, how are you going to get good people?
In 1996 SAP put a call out in the US for Universities to join the SAP University Alliance program. This program was running in Germany, and SAP wanted to expand it to the Americas. In the end, they chose California State University, Chico to be the first UA member in the States. As the program grew, many schools wanted the product but did not want to run the support systems. In 1998 Chico started hosting other universities, and in 1999 the University Competence Centers were born.
SAP will start the task of building the faculty network to promote Experience Management in the classroom
There are currently five global UCC’s, each dedicated to supporting schools by hosting the SAP solutions for faculty to use in the classroom SAPs idea was simple; give the universities access to full systems, develop curriculum around functional areas, and the SAP ecosystem will have a source for new college graduates with and understanding of the operational area and the experience on the SAP systems so they will be able to hit the ground running. And it worked. At Chico, the students in the Business Information Systems program have a 100% placement rate. They learn business processes supported by SAP S4HANA systems, S4HANA configuration, and even Basis administration. The top consulting firms and corporations recruit them. Chico is not alone on this. The Chico UCC hosts over 220 universities, covering the US, Latin America, India and Pakistan. Likewise, the UCC located at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee hosts the same number of schools in the US, Canada, and the APJ region.
With the acquisition of Qualtrics, SAP will start the task of building the faculty network to promote Experience Management in the classroom. Soon students will be able to join the workforce ready to set up the new division that is focused on customer satisfaction. As with the rush to ERP in the ’90s, experience management promises to have high returns to those who adopt it first. New college graduates will be the solution to create solutions. They will have experience in building the answers with the software and interpreting the results to yield the best new best practices.
“But we are different from everyone else…” And with that difference sometimes comes special attention. Within the UA program, there are ways to get the exact talent that you need. One is through the SAP Next-Gen Chapters. Chapters are within member schools and focus on specific topics like BlockChain, IoT, AI, or general processes. The Chapters are set up to encourage industry/academia relationships.
Reach out to your local university to see if they are a member of the UA program, then sign up with their career centre to get your new talent. If your local university is not yet a member, consider sponsoring them. Great minds are waiting!