Sap is not a good career option for qualified cas

Vivek (CA ) (2368 Points)

18 October 2013  

The ICAI has been offering eLearning courses on SAP FI and CO modules for the last 6-7 years. Currently the fee for the single module is Rs. 1,45,450/-  and the exam fee for the 2nd attempt onwards is Rs. 35,000/-(+ST) per attempt.

I undergone the FI module course from April 2010 to Dec. 2010 and has worked with a body shopper (labour contractor in IT industry) at Bangalore as a CO consultant (not FI consultant). I want to share some personal experiences and inside information on the usefulness of the SAP courses and the career for CAs in SAP field.

The course, fees and the alternatives available :

1. IT is a self learning course. SAP is a very complicated system even for the experienced SAP consultants. If the candidate does not have any prior working experience in a big industry and on ERP environment, it is very difficult to understand the ERP concept, product, processes, information flow between various modules etc..

2. SAP Education India is offering the SAP functional courses on various modules in collaboration with so many MBA and engineering colleges across Indian at much lower fees. In some cases the free classroom (i.e. instructor led) coaching is provided without any extra charge. For example, Indore-Indira Management Institute offers the classroom based SAP courses at just Rs. 25,000/- extra with any other courses offered by the institute.

3. If the objective is just to get some familiarity and hand-on experience about the SAP ERP enviorment, there are so many institutes in all the Tier I, II and III cities offering classroom courses on all the SAP modules at very low fees. For example Asap Infotech, Indore and Iinfocomm, Bangalore offer classroom course covering both FI and CO module at Rs. 25,000/- only. While at the IT hub cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore & Pune there are thousands of such institutes offering SAP courses at a fraction of the fees charged by the ICAI or other SAP education partners. The instructors in these institutes are the working SAP professionals from the renowned companies.

4. If somebody has working experience with an official SAP partner for more than 6 months, then he/she is eligible for appearing the SAP certification exam, without any extra charge.

Career prospects after completing the official SAP course / cerification :

1. There is no job-guarantee or placement assistance is given by the ICAI or SAP Education to the candidate after completing this course or certification. While the other institutes offering economical unofficial courses gives job guarantee and help in getting the candidates placed. 

2. SAP Education partners like Yash Technologies, NIIT, JKT etc. are offering placement assistance to the candidates paying full course fee directly to them. But the placement assistance by the same SAP parter is not available for the candidates coming through the ICAI with discounted fee.

3. Almost all the vacancies in SAP (on any other ERP), demand prior work experience as an SAP functional consultant and mandatory requirement of al least one end-to-end implementation experience.  The grade and the CTC offered to the SAP consultants are based on the experience in SAP field and no. of implementations done. (Please refer the attached screenshots for same mail from the recruiters.)

4. Prior work experience in industry or any professionals qualification are given no weightage in SAP / ERP field. The vacancies in FI/CO module are open for simple graduates, engineering graduates, MBAs also. While in industries / corporates, for any junior or senior level managerial position in Finance & Accounts department, a professional qualification like CA, ICWA, CS is a basic requirement.

5. SAP certification is rarely demanded as a basic qualification in any opening in SAP functional consulting. 

6. Some IT companies and so called Big 4s hire fresh candidates without any prior work experience from campuses only. But even for these fresh hires, no prior SAP knowledge or certification is required. Most of the intake of these freshers is from engineering and management institutes, not from the finance professionals. There are so many people in my network working as SAP FI/CO consultant with engineering degrees.

7. Even if a qualified CA managed to enter in ERP consulting field, he/she has to struggle for at least 4-5 years to reach a respectable level in his / her career. While in industry / corporate in a traditional finance / accounts role he/she can attain better success with less struggle  in 4-5 years.

9. Recently so many central and state PSU's have implemented SAP and hiring CA on contract basis for managing day-to-day accounting on SAP. But the pre-requisite from these PSUs for qualifying for such tenders is the prior work experience in closing and finalisation of accounts with a corporate with SAP implementation. The SAP course or certification is not a substitute for such tenders.

10. During the interviews for a managerial position in finance with an industry / corporate, the candidates are tested for their knowledge in the fields of taxation, corporate laws, GAAP, Internal control, spreadsheets etc.. Familiarity with SAP is only a mild not a strong virtue for a finance professional. 

11. There are so many mal-practices  going on in ERP industry, e.g. fake work experiences, professional services for getting positive background check, bribes to the recruiters of IT companies etc.. Hyderabad's Ameerpet area is notorious for all these mal-practices. Even SAP India, Oracle India and other leading IT companies like TCS, Infosys, HCL etc. have also been facing these mal-practices.  Highly qualified professionals feel frustrated when they come to know that the less-worthy candidates have managed better career in ERP field by the help of these mal-practices.