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SAP Consultant Screening

SAP Consultant Screening

Whether you are a business or a consulting firm, get what you’re actually paying for by avoiding the fakes, frauds, and cons with great looking resumes.  Software consulting fraud is rampant, widespread, and overwhelmingly involves H1B fraud.

High salaries with few “entrance requirements” make SAP consulting a prime software consulting fraud target.

SAP implementations are crucial for competitive advantage in business.  Some of the competitive advantages are efficiencies, integration, and automation when SAP is properly implemented.  To achieve these benefits, you entrust your business, your company, your enterprise, and your employees to a group of SAP or ERP consultants and business “gurus” believing these experts will help you achieve your goals.

In such a critical business endeavor you need the best software and the best ERP consultants that money can buy.  As a result an SAP consultant is often among the highest paid of the business software professionals in the technology sector.   With one or two full SAP implementations ( or with about 2 to 4 years of experience) it is not difficult to get a full time position in industry or consulting paying senior management wages.  For a decent contractor, that amount can easily be double or more.  The U.S. average salary for a doctor or lawyer is around the amount of the full time position.  However, unlike doctors and lawyers, there are no hard “entrance” requirements except claims of experience and the ability to get through the interview process.

Because of the potential “goldmine,” SAP consulting is a target for software consulting fraud, IT fraud, and H1B fraud.  Armed with fake resumes for SAP experience there are countless frauds and cheats who claim to be SAP consultants.  Worse yet, there’s an entire cottage industry organized to help write fake resumes, coach potential applicants, and even do initial phone screens to help these individuals engage in software consulting fraud on your SAP project.

Add to this that there are way too many recruiters and staffing firms who are more interested in making a buck than in working to police or stop the fraud and it is a mess.  Unless you use a genuinely reputable staffing firm or placement agency that has a solid reputation for doing actual background checks, employment / contract verifications, and some type of skills evaluations then you are wasting your time and money. 

Actual Experiences With Software Consulting Fraud, Fake SAP Consultants, Fake SAP Resumes, and Frauds

Having done SAP work since 1994, and being a project manager or team lead on many projects, I am often asked to screen and interview potential candidates for SAP consulting work.  I’ve certainly had some memorable interview experiences.

Real-life SAP bait and switch – Make Sure the person you interview is the one that shows up for the job

As a project manager for a mid-size national consulting firm, I got a request to screen a few potential candidates for an SD (Sales and Distribution) role.  The client requirement was very specific, to handle some reasonably straightforward pricing condition setup work.  The design was already done, and the requirements were already laid out, there was nothing complicated, no unusual requirements, really it was nothing special.  I would have done it myself if I weren’t up to my eyeballs on another project.

I contacted the applicant for the interview and the phone screen went great!  This candidate knew SD inside, outside, and upside down.  Great communication skills, clear, straightforward, relaxed–, no struggling or fumbling for the answers.  He pegged everything and it was very clear he had been working on SAP for many years, just as his resume said.  He’d be starting at the client the following Monday as a contractor.

A week and a half after that Monday start date, I got a call from the project manager at the client site.  The SD consultant was saying that everything they needed to do was going to require a programmer because what they wanted couldn’t be done with standard SAP.  The SD consultant I thought I had interviewed got on the phone and his English was HORRIBLE!  You could barely understand a word of what he said, worse yet, the little I could make out, this guy was totally clueless.  He didn’t even know how to do the simplest pricing related setup (using the SAP “condition technique”) and it was painfully obvious that this was NOT the same person I had screened on the phone.  A similar thing happened again to someone else in our company, the “bait and switch” in SAP consulting is alive and well.  While lots of people “pad” their resumes, there is a new breed of TOTAL CONS!  Watch out for the con artists!

SAP consulting is a target for software consulting fraud, IT fraud, and H1B fraud.  Armed with fake resumes for SAP experience there are countless frauds and cheats who claim to be SAP consultants.  Worse yet, there’s an entire cottage industry organized to help write fake resumes, coach potential applicants, and even do initial phone screens to help these individuals engage in software consulting fraud on your SAP project.

Lesson learned – ALWAYS screen and interview a second time in person, with different questions.  I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve done where it was obvious by the delays and the keyboard clicks in the background someone was doing an Internet search, or an SAP help search during the interview.  During the second screening, make sure to have some fairly simple IMG task for the applicant to do.  Then log into a development system and ask them to show you how to do “x.”

Beware the SAP software consulting “fraud factories” – teaching them to lie, cheat, and steal – can you trust them at your company?

At a moderately large client site as the team lead, I was working on SAP’s R3 / CRM Internet Sales B2B application.  We needed a developer and it was a critical time in the project.  Because the enhancements were significant, it *had* to be someone with real experience, not a blowhard.  They needed ABAP, Java, and CRM or R3 Internet Sales experience.  This candidate had to be able to deliver on a compressed timeline and this was a critical path item for the entire project.  Because a significant portion of the company’s customer base was already using the web for all ordering processes, this was a mission critical, go or no go development effort. 

In come the mountains of resumes.  I probably did 30 or more technical interviews, and please keep in mind, I’m a functional consultant without all of the coding skills, but I can usually find someone who has the experience necessary to get the job done.

I learned a LOT about the fraud, the cons, and the “games” out there around the “SAP consultant factories.”

During this long, painful screening processes, there were probably 4 genuine candidates who had spoken to questions and requirements clearly, concisely, and explicitly enough that I was certain they had “been there and done that.”  Those interviews showed they were the real McCoy.  Then the oddest thing happened, after some measure of assurance they were genuine, I followed my own suggestion from prior lessons learned and asked when they could come in for a second screening face to face.  One consultant just simply said he couldn’t, no explanation, just refused.  A second one tentatively agreed then called back a few days later and said he accepted another contract offer.  The third one just never showed.  At least one, probably two, and possibly all three were the classic “bait and switch.”  They had someone else do the phone screen for them, and then they would show up with NO experience and potentially jeopardize the go-live date.  And because of the mission critical nature at this client, they would potentially jeopardize the entire project.

One of the candidates (not among the 4 with real experience) I was given to screen was the most revealing candidate of all.  I was handed a resume, with a LOT of the *identical* projects, descriptions, and timelines as many of the other resumes I saw.  Except this one was different.  This one had a project listed at a company where I knew literally everyone on the project team.  I hadn’t worked on the client, but as the SAP Knowledge Manager for the consulting firm that has a great, long-term relationship with the client, I personally knew everyone on the project.  Because of my position, I also knew many of the contractors that our firm used and this person’s name was not one I recognized. 

This phone interview revealed the “SAP software consulting fraud factory” to me in ways I’d never considered.

Since I knew the project manager at that client, and the technical lead, both of whom had been there for close to 3 years, I decided to ask a few key questions.  In a rather friendly manner, when the candidate got on the phone, I asked him if he’d worked at that particular client before.  Of course he replied he had.  I then asked “So, how’s Jack doing there these days?” to which the candidate said he didn’t know any Jack.  And I said, “Sure, you know, the project manager, how’s he doing?”  Still he said he didn’t know a Jack and then said he worked in a technical area away from the rest of the project.  So, I asked how was Sri doing?  As a side note, Sri and I are personal friends who go back many years and have worked on several projects together.  He is probably one of the most talented ABAP / Java / Portals / CRM / SAP gurus you can find anywhere.  Still he insisted he didn’t know any Sri and that he worked in a different area.  When I pressed and insisted that Sri had been there for several years, that he was the technical lead, and that I knew him personally, this candidate wouldn’t relent.  Even after I told the candidate that I knew everyone on the project personally, and that Sri was responsible for all of the SAP related CRM and Portals development work, he still insisted he had the experience and had worked there but didn’t know Sri.  Knowing he was lying (he had no way to know how well I knew the project participants), I called my old friend Sri on his cell phone, and did a three way call to get him on the phone.  At this point in the interview the candidate finally admitted the truth… 

He lied, he had some service out there put a fake resume together for him, with legitimate SAP projects (probably gleaned from SAP resumes out there today), and had gotten coaching on how to lie his way through the interview.  This candidate actually had the nerve to ask if he could still come onto the project even though he had just admitted he lied about his experience and that his resume was a fake!

Lesson Learned – a resume is a piece of paper, just because it has all of those “cute” SAP terms and buzzwords on it doesn’t mean much.  An SAP resume should only serve one purpose–, to consider whether or not to interview the individual.  NEVER base a hiring or contract decision on a resume and a “personable” interview alone.  Even if the interviewee comes across as knowledgeable and authoritative, remember my example above, this guy actually had the temerity to still ask for the job even after admitting to be a fraud!

How do you screen or interview to find good SAP consultants?

At first this statement will sound counterintuitive, but let me make the statement first and then explain.  The goal with every interview must be to qualify an applicant, not to disqualify them (but do NOT be afraid to dump a fraud immediately).

The following background is important because depending on how you screen, you may miss the absolutely best qualified, skilled, and experienced candidates and hire some of the worst. 

Why current SAP screening and interview methods miss good candidates and let the SAP con artists in.

SAP is so massive with so many industry specific solutions, that a good “con” can sound like they know what they are doing.  The depth and breadth of the application is so big that even though I’ve been doing SAP projects since 1994 I still learn new things on every project. 

A liar, with some coaching, or industry exposure, who has spent some time online doing a little research, can sound pretty convincing.  My interviewing experience for technical consultants showed that on a good day maybe 1 in 3 resumes are valid.  For the functional consultants, it’s still less than half. 

The number of fakes, frauds, and cons trying to get into SAP to help design YOUR business solution is incredibly high.  When considering the stakes to your business, and the overall expense of a full ERP implementation, the cost of those fakes is too high no matter how convincing they may be.  If it means “eating” the expense of a few airline tickets for the second screening, then so be it.  It is a cost that is well worth it to know for sure.

After experience since 1994 with SAP, numerous full cycle, extensive scope projects with both SD and MM, and after exploring and configuring a substantial portion of the application in areas of SD, MM, LE, and some FI, I will be the FIRST to admit during an interview that there are some things that I have not done before.  That list is getting smaller as the years go by, but I still learn new things on EVERY project.  This in spite of the fact that I have received written accolades, formal recognition, and even client initiated bonuses as a contractor! 

There’s one or two things I’ve learned along the way about screening or interviewing applicants.  One of those lessons is that different personalities and different communication abilities make it almost impossible to genuinely determine the amount of experience.  For example it is difficult to determine if someone like me, who started with SAP in 1994 actually HAS that much experience!  However, the following screening method will enable you to determine if the applicant has real SAP experience, it just can’t be used to determine how much experience they may have.

Screening and Interview Rules for Finding Real SAP consultants, experienced, qualified, high quality SAP consultants

•       YOUR GOAL IS TO QUALIFY AN SAP CANDIDATE (but DUMP THE FRAUDS IMMEDIATELY)! 

If a candidate can’t answer every question or deal with every issue it does not mean they don’t have experience.  What you are looking for is a high comfort level within yourself that the candidate really does have SAP experience in the area you need.  That does mean you really must check with their prior clients.  If you go in with the perspective of disqualifying a candidate, you can always find something that wasn’t answered or dealt with to your satisfaction.

•       Before you even decide to waste your time with an interview do an old-fashioned HR check with the prior companies. 

Many company’s HR departments will do a simple validation of contractors.  Even if they don’t have direct records, they are more than willing to check with the project manager or others who might know. And most companies list an HR contact or hiring information contact online to send an e-mail to.  What I do is copy the section of their resume related to that company, send it to the HR manager, and ask them if that person was in that role or had the listed responsibilities at their company.  Basically I just want them to verify that the information is true.  If the resume lists companies in foreign countries, or organizations that there is no way to reasonably verify them then disqualify that experience from their resume.  It is not that it should be necessarily considered fake, but it SHOULD BE COMPLETELY IGNORED as if it didn’t exist on their resume at all.  It is a very common tactic to list several foreign SAP implementations which are completely fake.

•       As an alternative to the HR check, or possibly in conjunction with that check, you may wish to ask the candidate for a specific contact who is STILL AT THE COMPANY they worked with. 

Even this has to be carefully verified.  I’ve been given bogus phone numbers and e-mails that are not at the company being used for a reference.  Be sure it is a legitimate phone number and e-mail address.  Also try to verify that the internal company reference is the person they claim to be.  I had one situation where an internal company reference was provided that was supposed to be the project manager, it turns out the individual was an ABAP programmer and a personal friend of the person trying to sneak the fake resume through.

•       Look for “giveaways” that the SAP “consultant” lacks the experience they say.

If their resume shows 6 -10 years of experience and you have a very difficult time understanding them that’s a pretty significant red flag.  After all, just exactly how did they participate in the numerous meetings and requirements gathering sessions?  Just how did they handle writing a blueprint?  How did they manage and work issues when they can hardly be understood?  Even if they babble all of the “buzzwords” how did they work through business issues and actually transfer any useful knowledge if they “talk the talk” but it is not understandable or in plain, common terminology that everyone can understand?  In other words, beware when during the interview, OR on the project when they try to “baffle you with feces.” 

Although they may be legitimate, beware of resumes that match too closely to a highly detailed requirement or unusual requirements.  Some unscrupulous consultants, ESPECIALLY those who managed to start their SAP careers as frauds have no problem producing fake resumes with fake experience and fake qualifications for any position they seek.  After all, if it worked for them before they continue to do it.

•        Does their resume show they started SAP at 16 years old? 

I’ve also received resumes that show 8+ years experience in SAP and the person who showed up was in their early 20’s.  That means they would have started doing SAP work at 16??  You get the picture.  If the person is obviously in their early 20′s and they have 5 – 10 years of experience listed on their resume that’s a dead giveaway that they are a fake and a fraud.

•       Do your homework about SAP interview questions.

Go online and find some of the resources for interview preparation.  There are lots of sites and lots of SAP forums out there to “help” some of the cheats.  AVOID those questions in your screening process.  However, if you must use them, take the time to rephrase them so they make sense but do NOT use any “SAPspeak” terminology or any SAP specific phrases that they might have been “trained” on.

•       Develop a specific interview script to use on the phone, and a separate one with different questions for the in person screen. 

Again, if possible, avoid “SAPspeak” in that script, and above all else, be careful to avoid questions that give the answer away.  If a candidate has trouble understanding the question, carefully re-phrase it in such a way that doesn’t directly give the answer away.  (e-mail me for examples, if I can verify you are a legitimate end customer or reputable consulting firm I will provide you sample / example questions with absolutely no obligation!).

•       Establish key baselines for the SAP interview, even if it is already stated on the resume. 

Be sure to quantify how much experience in time, number of implementations, or how many years before beginning any screening or questioning.   Use these as baselines and note any avoidance of committing to an amount of time or number of implementations and explore the avoidance.  If someone claims experience on their resume and then reiterates they have done X number of full-cycle implementations, or they have Y years of experience, and then backpedals, or doesn’t demonstrate that level of experience, or starts to make excuses for the lack of experience they are likely a fraud.  Move on.

•       Press for specifics, press for specifics, press for specifics, press for specifics.  During the interview process, do not accept vague or evasive answers! 

If the candidate doesn’t know the answer, they should say they don’t know.  Vague and evasive answers should generally be considered a red flag (although there are occasions that there may be a misunderstanding, so remember, the goal is to qualify, not to disqualify a candidate).  Also, be careful if they “sound” like they might be answering the question but you really don’t know what they are saying.  After all, if they really have the experience and are a qualified consultant they should be able to translate SAP speak into plain business language that anyone can understand.  How else are they going to develop a blueprint, or write position papers, or resolve problems / issues so that they can be understood?

•       During the Interview ask for details related to actual SAP configuration settings. 

Someone may not remember the *exact* settings, but they should be able to speak to it in enough detail that an experienced consultant will leave you with some assurance they have been in those IMG settings before.  Be careful not to “give the answer away” in the questioning process.  So carefully craft your questions so that they are clear enough to understand the what you are trying to have them configure without using the specific terms that you see in the SAP IMG.  Also be attuned to questions from the applicant that are seeking more understanding and those that are actually trying to get you to give them the “answer” that they can parrot back to you in a different way.  There is no way that anyone, even after many years, is going to remember every value, or every setting of the thousands of possibilities from memory.  What you’re looking for here is enough specifics to help you understand that they actually have done configuration before.

•       Define a couple of business challenges or scenarios that you had to solve in the past, or are trying to solve now then and ask the candidate for specific ideas and methods for how to address the issue. 

With many things in SAP there are several methods or approaches to resolve the same issue, if you get the same answer that you have used in the past, great!  If you don’t get the same answer, listen very carefully because you may learn a new and possibly better way of doing something from a real SAP consultant or you may discover that they are making it all up. Probing in this area, around issues you have already solved, or issues you are facing is a great way to find out if someone actually has the experience they claim.  In a nutshell, can they solve your business problems or apply the correct SAP solutions to the issues you face?

However, BEWARE HERE, I HAVE HEARD MORE BOGUS, SILLY, AND RIDICULOUS EXPLANATIONS THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!  Make sure you read the follow up piece to this one because it is absolutely critical to understand the applicant (Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2).  Part of the critical skills you are looking for is the ability to translate the complex and technical into the simple or at least understandable.  If they lack that basic skill then they will be unable to to “consult” you on your project.  If no one can understand their “gibberish” then how can they consult?

•       ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be willing to have them come in for a second, face to face, technical SAP interview with different questions. 

When you consider the amount of money you will be paying a month for this person’s services, some potentially lost air and cab fare is pretty cheap.  After a good phone screen, to avoid some of the obvious cons, come right out and tell them that you will have them come in for a second face to face screen with different questions and that you will have them demonstrate some configuration tasks at that time, keep the tasks simple, but do not tell them what they are.  Some of them will never show up and you can avoid the wasted time and expenses.  If they show up, pay careful attention at how comfortable they are in finding the configuration locations and in navigating in the IMG.  Consider it a red flag if they come in with an agenda of what they are going to show you, unless they can easily demonstrate the skills you request.  That can be an indication that they got coaching to con you and are going to try to take you through their own “scripted” demonstration that some friend showed them.

•       If you are a consulting firm who routinely recruits SAP talent, change up your questions and interview techniques at least a couple times a year. 

This will help to ensure that if the questions or other information is leaked, they will become obsolete by the time any significant circulation happens. 

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This is part of a series which explains the widespread FRAUD involved with SAP, Oracle, or other business software consulting.  I have no issue with H1B’s, student visas, etc., but these folks should be willing to work their way up just like many hard working folks rather than wreck your business and damage the industry through fraud.  For more extensive insight into the problem, AND specific methods for dealing with it, please see some of the other posts:

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Contact me today through our site contact form ( http://www.r3now.com/contact ), phone, or e-mail.

Bill Wood
+1 (704) 905 – 5175
Bill Wood contact

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24 Responses to “Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant”

  1. [...] see the article on Screening Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant. This type of process analysis, business strategy, and help with development of the best possible [...]

  2. Karthik Viswanathan says:

    Putting some of this responsibility back on to SAP clients, they also need to take the time to publish their experience on their consultants on the ASUG consultant review database that only SAP clients have access to.

  3. [quote]
    At a moderately large client site as the team lead, I was working on SAP’s R3 / CRM Internet Sales B2B application. We needed a developer and it was a critical time in the project. Because the enhancements were significant, it *had* to be someone with real experience, not a blowhard. They needed ABAP, Java, and CRM or R3 Internet Sales experience. This candidate had to be able to deliver on a compressed timeline and this was a critical path item for the entire project. Because a significant portion of the company’s customer base was already using the web for all ordering processes, this was a mission critical, go or no go development effort.
    [/quote]

    I think a big part of the issue is an unreasonable expectation for what a new hire can do. A ‘compressed timeline’ ‘critical path’ situation needs somebody already familiar with the specific project, and one you know from experience can handle this, namely somebody already on staff.

    If there is nobody already aboard, the correct answer is ‘a new hire cannot do this’, and something will have to give in the project planning.

    If you ask for something impossible, you won’t get anybody honest, they wouldn’t say they can do the impossible, and that leaves only liars.

    And if management demands you do this anyways, they will get their deserved failure.

  4. manel hernandez says:

    Dear Bill, I have written the Critical Sucess factors in the wiki sometime ago because after 12 years experience on SAP i have learned from the adversity and good and bad experiences. I have been in both sides, as Consultant and as client. So let me insist on some of the questions that you make to find out the good consultant. 1) To find somebody that gives a different way to solve the same problem is nice to have. I will also agree on screening some IMG and see how the candidate will react, but you have to admit that even discovering a person with the IMG stamped on their brain, you will find a bad candidate. If you want a good question to make, just ask them WHY they propose this os that. And to answer that they must before understand what is the use of the provided solution they give. I mean that I insist on having consultants that they have the business skills and education as to understand the problem behind and propose a business solution rather than a SAP solution. What is this solution bringing to the performance of the business? I can tell you that some specific times we have decided to use a pencil and a notebook rather than a standard SAP solution, or worst ABAP.
    Final question. 2) How can you presume to have the right candidate as you are asking to have a f.ex SAP MM Consultant with ABAP? Is this a joke? A MM Consultant should know among others about the full technics and strategy of purchasing, (which are not in a SAP manual). Are you still considering a SAP Consultant an IT guy? Don´t you think is an area more for organization and business understanding?
    Do you drive a car by night without lights? The car and the engine works but….
    3) Language skills. This is a funny topic. And it´s funny because when an english speaker with no idea of languages other than English tends to think that others have no idea about everything except him/her. Most of SAP implementation are international roll outs, and behind of many bad implemantations there is a problem of communication originated by somebody who tends to think that people with less skills in English are somehow brainless. A Good Team leader develops its communication skills, by making sure that the communication line is clearly understood. So don´t blame a candidate because their “poor” English, blame yourself for not being able to understand it´s capacity on SAP. Also, I always try to say hello, and some words in the local language, and make sure that any communication made is copied on a paper and distributed.
    I am not saying I know everything, in fact the more I know of SAP and Finance the more I think that I have no idea. So as you I am always open to learn from anyone on any new project, and to admit the many thinks I don´t know after this 12 years.
    Thank you.

    Manel

    • From reading this comment, I know I can do better even though I am a freshy. From overall industry experience, I know that spending x amount of years in any industry doesn’t necessarily make you a guru. I have broken into industries as a consultant and was able to deliver in 6 months what some consultants cannot do with their 12 years experience.
      A smart, motivated, sharp person is very easy to uncover. So with SAP experience or without, if you sound like a dumbass, then most probably you are one. Again, just being around SAP projects for 12 years doesn’t mean anything. You could be just hangout in teams that cover for you because you bring donuts or breakfast burittos in the morning.
      Yeah, English skills do matter. If you have challenges there, then work on them and don’t hide behind the fact that you can speak 3 other languages and 30 dialects… :)
      I am going to be an SAP consultant, and I am going to excel! :)

      • Bill,
        Why is so much fuss and foul crying? You have your own very successful career and web site. What have you done to remedy this? Is it harming you anyway? Did you pay for these “consultants”? I guess not. The army of “fake consultants” doing this to get foot into the field. I’m sure they don’t want to get paid without doing any work. They’ve spent enough money and time before doing that. And what do you think, once hired they don’t do their job, well, they might need some extra help..but guess will do much better job at 40-50/hr than somebody who is charging 150-200/hr. In one of your post you wrote” Paying consultants to camp out for years after the initial go-live. After all, someone must hold the hands of untrained users and make simple software configuration changes required by the business.” Why don’t you apply this logic to entry level positions to SAP? SAP is a tool, one needs intelligence to utilize it’s capabilities to meet business needs. Though easier said than done, but doesn’t mean that ONLY person with 5+ years of experience can do it. Your views are only one sided. Have you written a single line about how this can be prevented? Nope.(guess you don’t have a clue) I hope you look at the job Jim doing at sapcookbook.com. At least he is training new students and guide them how to get into SAP without any experience.

  5. Amen! Having been the one to do technical screens in SD for many years, many of the points raised resonates. Just like to add couple of annedotes and an observation

    - I have never came across resumes that were outright fabrications, I had candidates who crossed the line of resume padding. One claimed to be a whiz when it comes to taxes. When pressed for details, he changed his story to he didn’t do US taxes but is expert in Canadian taxes. I told him I am Canadian and like to talk about couple of issues that SAP didn’t quite get right when it comes to Canadian taxes. He had to admit that he was merely a super user and he watched a consultant configure the various taxes.
    Another candidate claim to have implemented repair processing. Again when I told him I spent 3 years implmenting SAP repairs he had to admit that he only did the dcumentation. Crazy part of this is that two weeks after SD team passed on this guy, he show up at the project as the newest MM resource!

    Lest this post is deemed as another one on the bandwagon of H1B Asian bashing, one of the two above is a good old American citizen.

    Lastly, an observation, when it comes to screening out unsuitable candidates, one must invest the time and effort in doing it properly. I have seen far too many firms write up a script and then ask some non SAP knowlegeable people read it to the candidates. You loose both ways, fakes that gives you the correct buzz word will pass through and good ones may get rejected because he/she answer slightly differently than whoever wrote the answers and the interviewer lacks the background to interpret answers properly.

  6. Michael says:

    Excellent article, this points me to another issue that I believe there has always been a void in the SAP Consultant world.
    Where are the protocols from SAP that governs the conduct of certified SAP Consultant in the market? It seems that basically a consultant has nothing to lose, with regard to his quality of service delivery and will move onto the next client. I have yet to see some kind of control where a SAP Consultant can lose for example his SAP certification for poor system quality service delivery.

  7. edgarofone says:

    These are great tips for screening quality consultants, especially senior ones, who mostly come for firefighting. These are not for screening consultants army which provides junior consultants without much experience. But these armies still need room to survive and grow. That’s a different story. This is a balance and juggling between what clients, consulting firms, independent consultants, and SAP itself, want.

    When we said we started SAP in 1990s, the world was young, more friendly, clients were, yes, rich and naive, and frauds were fewer. Now clients swing to the other end of the pendulum and ask for only the best. Then the “best” come from everywhere.

    There should be different playgrounds for different levels of consultants. I remember long ago some big consulting firm had a document which showed that ideally every senior consultant is paired with several junior consultants. I also saw first hand many times that junior or semi-fraud (if we are addicted to the word “fraud”) consultants worked hard and grew to full blown genuine experts.

    But for my current project, I will do my screening as hard as I need. Just like an audition. Just like I listen to a violin performance. We need only 5 seconds to know where the violinist stands.

    • Bill Wood says:

      While I appreciate your comments I do not entirely agree. With many of the consulting firms charging premium rates for “senior” consultants with just 2 or 3 years experience the screening needs to be intense.

      Also, most of the screening methods I’ve written about are related to fakes, frauds, and con artists. From that standpoint EVERY SAP consultant, or any IT consultant needs to be carefully evalutaed. If they are frauds they should be exposed.

  8. Great article, I agree whole heartedly that there is an undercurrent of fraud in many Consultant hiring situations, I have seen the bait and switch move personally in the last year, where a different person showed up than the one who took the interview. Not wanting to besmudge names, but this definately seems to be a problem with some offshore companies who have a bunch of h1B guys they’re are trying to staff on projects. An additional fraud is role exageration, i’ve been on projects where i’ve been screening guys who have claimed to have done something on a project I know for certain was completed by someone else. I honestly think the biggest problem are the IT recruitng ans sourcing companies that have shot up in the last 6 years or so. Their goals are not in alignment with the clients. they want to staff the cheapest resource at the highest margin that the client will accept. As an independant consultant I really do not see that these middle men add any value and until client project manager start looking for independants directly or using reputable firms, they will of course be subject to this kind of fraud.

    • Unfortunately until independents who have actually “paid their dues” start stepping up and educating clients about the widespread fraud nothing will change.

      So, I do what I can and have had some success in educating some pretty big clients about some of the fraud and the marketplace is VERY SLOWLY changing a little at a time.

  9. The issue is that, 99.9% of companies out there are only interested in employing experience job seekers. Therefore, candidate with no experience but SAP Certification have no hope of getting any job.
    In my opinion, majority of the so called self proclaimed experience SAP Consultant out there, must have bluff at one stage of their career progression to get to that comfort zone of I know it all.
    Many of the companies have forgotten or ignore their corporate social responsibility of employing entry level candidate.
    HR’s augment is that they might leave for a better job after given them the job experience. There is no doubt about some people, too hard to please ones, but these kinds of individuals you really don’t want them to stick around any way, you will prefer them to leave your organisation, and end up with loyal employees. Employing for a short time projects is out of the question.
    HR need to have a good hard look at their employment and training processes and think how they can give back to the society in which they operate.

    • You are right John.

    • John,

      Your entire thought process here is wrong. If I understand correctly you believe because you got a certification (and very likely NOT from SAP but from some unaffiliated third party) that you are “entitled” to automatically get an SAP project.

      The reality is MANY of us have worked up through the ranks at some business, got involved on an internal project team after several years experience in a particular business area, and then had the opportunity provided to us. They call that “paying your dues”…

      Anything less than being willing to work your way up through the ranks and put in the time and effort, and then wait for your opportunity is FRAUD! Plain and simple. The idea of many out there is they just want to jump over everyone else and get at the front of the line and they are willing to lie, cheat, steal, or destroy anyone who gets in their way…

      This is what is wrong with the entire system and why SAP MUST do something to get more serious about consulting verification. This is also why the U.S. Government should be using taxpayer dollars to STOP the fraud, forever ban those who commit the fraud, and provide stiff fines, penalties, and jail time for the FRAUD!

  10. I’m new to SAP and have over 10 years in IT and earned my MBA and have a Bachelors of Science degree in Management Information Technology. I studied SAP for 2 years and getting ready to test for certification in SAP PP module. I have studied configurations, creating and configuration materials for various business scenarios: MTS, MTO, REM, Kmat material, variant configurations, etc. I have access to SAP servers 24 hours/7days to practice. I read, breathe, and live SAP. But I do not have any experience. Did I mention I have a background HR; training & development and change management experience. I have worked on quite a few IT projects that are not related to SAP. How do I get my start? Every job I see out there demands a lot of experience. I think it is not fair because the people who has 10 years experience, at one time another had 0 experience. HOW DO I GET MY START. I WOULD LOVE TO SHADOW, BE MENTORED, AND CONTRIBUTE WITH NO PAY. I JUST WANT TO JUMPSTART MY CAREER IN SAP. PLEASE REPLY TO THE ABOVE EMAIL ADDRESS. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  11. I just want to add that it makes the people who feel that they can do a great job and gain experience seems that they have to embellish on their resume to even ge the interview. It is the many skills that the organization asks for. Many of the jobs out there want the SAP to be able to do everything, i.e., Project Manager, Abaper, gather the business requirements, do the mapping, do the training, power user, end user support, configuration, create PI sheets, etc., etc., etc., Suppose the person just has 5 out of the 10 skills the organization is asking for; that person just want a chance. How can the organizations help those just beginning in their careers with SAP? Can you give me a list of organizations that will accept Junior SAP people who on a face-to-face interview can answer your questions, can do some configurations (IMG activities), but do not have the 2-4 full life cycle implementations; 3-8 years experience. This may be the reason for some fraud. Is it hard to ask lower salary rate for those who can do the functional stuff like configurations, and configuring Material Master Data with BOMS, MRPs, QM, WM, etc. and then hire technical guys to deal with most of the implementation. WHAT ABOUT THE NEW PEOPLE>

  12. hemen parekh says:

    Creative Resumes ?
    Writing in The Economic Times ( Jan 8-14,2011 ), Mishita Mehra provides following findings of a report by First Advantage , which conducts 1.5 million background checks per year in India :
     Who lies the most in resumes ?
    • Senior Management ……………………. 2 %
    • Middle Management ……………………. 21 %
    • Associates …………………………………… 65 %
     What do they lie about ?
    • False employment info …………………… 41 %
    • Incorrect tenure ……………………………….. 32 %
    • Inflated designation ………………………… 15 %
     Which Industry have most liars ?
    • Education ………………………………………… 33 %
    • Travel & Hospitality ………………………….. 25 %
    • Bio-Technology …………………………………. 19 %
     Top Resume Cheat list
    • Hong Kong …………………………………………. 47 %
    • Singapore …………………………………………….35 %
    • India ………………………………………………………11 %
    No wonder , Recruiters are saying :
    This is no way to Customize Resume !
    With regards
    hemen Parekh
    Jobs for All = Peace on Earth

  13. Companies ruined or almost ruined by imported Indian labor

    Adaptec – Indian CEO Subramanian Sundaresh fired.
    AIG (signed outsourcing deal in 2007 in Europe with Accenture Indian frauds, collapsed in 2009)
    AirBus (Qantas plane plunged 650 feet injuring passengers when its computer system written by India disengaged the auto-pilot).
    Apple – R&D CLOSED in India in 2006.
    Australia’s National Australia Bank (Outsourced jobs to India in 2007, nationwide ATM and account failure in late 2010).
    Bell Labs (Arun Netravalli took over, closed, turned into a shopping mall)
    Boeing Dreamliner ES software (written by HCL, banned by FAA)
    Bristol-Myers-Squibb (Trade Secrets and documents stolen in U.S. by Indian national guest worker)
    Caymas – Startup run by Indian CEO, French director of dev, Chinese tech lead. Closed after 5 years of sucking VC out of America.
    Caterpillar misses earnings a mere 4 months after outsourcing to India, Inc.
    Circuit City – Outsourced all IT to Indian-run IBM and went bankrupt shortly thereafter.
    ComAir crew system run by 100% Indian IT workers caused the 12/25/05 U.S. airport shutdown when they used a short int instead of a long int
    Computer Associates – Former CEO Sanjay Kumar, an Indian national, sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for accounting fraud.
    Deloitte – 2010 – this Indian-packed consulting company is being sued under RICO fraud charges by Marin Country, California for a failed solution.
    Dell – call center (closed in India)
    Delta call centers (closed in India)
    Duke University – Massive scientific fraud by Indian national Dr. Anil Potti discovered in 2012.
    Fannie Mae – Hired large numbers of Indians, had to be bailed out. Indian logic bomb creator found guilty and sent to prison.
    Goldman Sachs – Kunil Shah, VP & Managing Director – GS had to be bailed out by US taxpayers for $550 BILLION.
    GM – Was booming in 2006, signed $300 million outsourcing deal with Wipro that same year, went bankrupt 3 years later
    HP – Got out of the PC hardware business in 2011 and can’t compete with Apple’s tablets. HP was taken over by Indians and Chinese in 2001. So much for ‘Asian’ talent!
    HSBC ATMs (software taken over by Indians, failed in 2006)
    Intel Whitefield processor project (cancelled, Indian staff canned)
    JetStar Airways computer failure brings down Christchurch airport on 9/17/11. JetStar is owned by Quantas – which is know to have outsourced to India, Inc.
    Kodak: Outsourced to India in 2006, filed for bankruptcy in Jan, 2012.
    Lehman (Jasjit Bhattal ruined the company. Spectramind software bought by Wipro, ruined, trashed by Indian programmers)
    Medicare – Defrauded by Indian national doctor Arun Sharma & wife in the U.S.
    Microsoft – Employs over 35,000 H-1Bs. Stock used to be $100. Today it’s lucky to be over $25. Not to mention that Vista thing.
    MIT Media Lab Asia (canceled)
    MyNines – A startup founded and run by Indian national Apar Kothari went belly up after throwing millions of America’s VC $ down the drain.
    Nomura Securities – (In 2011 “struggling to compete on the world stage”). No wonder because Jasjit Bhattal formerly of failed Lehman ran it. See Lehman above.
    PeopleSoft (Taken over by Indians in 2000, collapsed).
    PepsiCo – Slides from #1 to #3 during Indian CEO Indra Nooyi’ watch.
    Polycom – Former senior executive Sunil Bhalla charged with insider trading.
    Qantas – See AirBus above
    Quark (Alukah Kamar CEO, fired, lost 60% of its customers to Adobe because Indian-written QuarkExpress 6 was a failure)
    Rolls Royce (Sent aircraft engine work to India in 2006, engines delayed for Boeing 787, and failed on at least 2 Quantas planes in 2010, cost Rolls $500m).
    SAP – Same as Deloitte above in 2010.
    Singapore airlines (IT functions taken over in 2009 by TCS, website trashed in August, 2011)
    Skype (Madhu Yarlagadda fired)
    State of Indiana $867 million FAILED IBM project, IBM being sued
    State of Texas failed IBM project.
    Sun Micro (Taken over by Indian and Chinese workers in 2001, collapsed, had to be sold off to Oracle).
    UK’s NHS outsourced numerous jobs including health records to India in mid-2000 resulting in $26 billion over budget.
    Union Bank of California – Cancelled Finacle project run by India’s InfoSys in 2011.
    United – call center (closed in India)
    Victorian Order of Nurses, Canada (Payroll system screwed up by SAP/IBM in mid-2011)
    Virgin Atlantic (software written in India caused cloud IT failure)
    World Bank (Indian fraudsters BANNED for 3 years because they stole data).

    I could post the whole list here but I don’t want to crash any servers.

    • Your collection of data is applaudable. Relating every downfall to India and Indian(s) seems very lame!

    • Damn! As much as I like India, culture, history, food and music, I have no idea where those companies get the idea that any indian, or indian looking person (Srilanka, Bangladesh..) is innately a computer genius?!?!
      I don’t blame the Indian workers at all. They are offered an opportunity to get out of poverty, and they take it. I blame the crooked mostly white American executives that outsource, realize a quick earnings increase, take a big bonus, and watch the ship sink afterwards….
      It’s not a nationality issues here, or ethnic superiority, it’s a problem of greed and entitlement. There is more of it to spread around, so take your share… :)

  14. Hi,

    In my experience I had similar experience, knowing that the guy is a liar, and have only expertise in SAP config but not on the business sense, still, I have hired them in my projects, with a only aim to get 150% more work than from the so known as KING KONG OF SAP.

    The so called King Kongs, are just busy in playing with there Ipads or talking and wasting time hanging out at a office corner with a cigarette, or tea or coffee.

    If you ask some thing extra, they would say without courtsey, “Its not my job” !

    So what I mean to say, if every one wants a baby with moustace and lots of expertise, first ask your self, did you come to SAP market with all these ?

    What lies you said in the begining. Are you 100% truthful ? You never cheated or lied ?

    Only a old widow will teach, how good it is to be faithful.

    Any way I request the Bill to highlight the ways to these freshers, how to get into SAP Market.

    • Bill Wood says:

      Interesting insight there SAP FRAUD…

      For ways to get into SAP, they really haven’t changed EXCEPT for those who routinely commit fraud, who are thieves, liars, and cons that is.

      You pay your dues. You do so well in school that you get picked up by one of the Big X consulting companies, who have large projects, and customers who are willing to accept juniors. OR, you get into technology, get hired in the IT department at a company with SAP. Work hard, and wait for an opportunity to change your skills to get involved in the SAP space.

      My disgust is with the number of entitlement minded thieves, frauds, and con artists who believe they can steal whatever they want. Somehow they believe they deserve to be thieves when in reality they belong in jail!

      Is that direct enough? And does that provide the information on how to get into SAP?

  15. Hi Bill,

    You have noted a grateful points to avoid a fake consultant. it would be appreciable. But one small submission to you is that, You can not run your business with out FAKE consultants. They work hard for their survive. okay, this is secondary thing. will you get genuine employees for all running Projects.
    I can say, NO.

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