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IT managers raise concerns over retaining and attracting SAP skills

Survey has shone a light on the concerns of organisations managing and deploying SAP enterprise software

Organisations using SAP software are concerned that their SAP specialists are quitting their jobs for higher paid and more exciting career opportunities. Nearly two-thirds of SAP user organisations in the UK and Ireland are concerned about a future shortage of SAP skills.

A survey of 180 organisations conducted by the UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) has found that 79% of respondents said there are concerns about a shortage of SAP skills in the future. Salary (28%), career enhancement (28%), and opportunities to work on newer technologies (25%) were cited as the main contributors for staff leaving.

The survey reported that staff salaries are a big factor in hiring new people with SAP skills. When asked what are the main challenges they face when it comes to recruiting for SAP roles, UKISUG reported that more than a third of organisations cited the cost of salaries (35%), followed by limited skills in the market overall (24%), and limited skills availability due to their geographic location (18%).

Just under half (49%) of the organisations surveyed said the coronavirus crisis has slowed their investment in SAP skills. On the other hand, almost two-thirds (65%) said the increase in remote working is making future recruits’ geographic location less important.

UKISUG also found that the demand for SAP skills is a growing concern for organisations planning to move to SAP S/4Hana. The survey reported that almost three-quarters (73%) of organisations are concerned that a lack of available skills will affect the speed they can move to SAP S/4Hana. More than two-thirds (67%) agree that training existing staff to implement and manage SAP S/4Hana is a challenge.

Paul Cooper, chairman of UK and Ireland at SAP User Group, said: “There is no denying that SAP technical skills are at a premium, and that this is creating a supply and demand problem in the UK and Ireland.

“Whether it is attracting the Basis skills to maintain an existing estate or requiring new skills to move to the cloud – cost and availability is front of mind for many IT decision makers. This, in turn, is forcing organisations to make continual trade-offs when it comes to investing in both people and systems.”

Along with making a business case to upgrade to S/4Hana, Cooper said that organisations also need to factor in the availability of skills for both the implementation and management of the new IT system.

According to UKISUG, there are sufficient skills to support current demand for SAP S/4Hana. However, Cooper warned that there is the potential for greater disparity in the future as demand increases due to the new 2027 end of support deadline for SAP ECC (Enterprise Core Components) 6.0.

“It is up to the entire SAP ecosystem to work together to retain and share knowledge, and develop the next-generation workforce. This will help ensure that organisations of all sizes have the skills available to support them both now and in the future, irrespective of the speed of their digital journey.”

Read more about S/4Hana and ECC

  • Many SAP customers are reluctant to move to S/4Hana just yet – or maybe ever. Here are some ways companies can optimize the SAP ERP Central Component and find ways to innovate.
  • In part one of this five-part series on SAP ECC to S/4Hana conversions, learn about the history of transformation at SAP and three approaches to migrations.

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