How to improve the process of hiring an (SAP BO) consultant

There are some recent blogs about fraud in hiring an (SAP) consultant:

http://scn.sap.com/community/career-center/blog/2012/04/09/sap-consulting-fraud–disturbing-example
http://scn.sap.com/community/career-center/blog/2012/05/01/more-on-sap-consulting-fraud-video-discussion

In this post I would like to share our “best practice” at IT-Logix as it is part of our daily business to evaluate and in some cases hire new consultants, especially for the Business Intelligence sector in general and for SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft BI as our major technology stacks. As I’m personally a BusinessObjects consultant (besides other skills…) I talk primarily about this area, but of course you can adapt these findings to your own domain.

A first thing which I need to mention here is the lack of quality of SAP (BO) certifications. As long as they are mainly consisting of multiple choice questions, it is easy to simply “learn by heart” the answers, especially if you use the offerings of sites like examkiller.com:

On the SAP partner portal you can do some further “qualifications” like SAP Solution Consultant. You have to do some e-learnings and finally pass web based multiple choice questions. Nothing more easy than get an experienced consultant with you and let him answer the questions you have to fill in…

Therefore I agree with all the blog voices that a face-to-face interview is an important element during the recruitement process. On the other hand it is mentioned several times that it is problematic if you as the future employer do not have the necessary technical knowledge to really evaluate an applicant. There are two ways to address this:

  • You bring in external specialists for all sorts of tasks – why wouldn’t you for hiring? I don’t talk about common head hunters but another task specific consulting company? Of course this is a little bit marketing for IT-Logix and our services: Depending on the project and customer situation we are anyway too expensive as we mainly address the top level expertise market for Business Intelligence. Therefore we can’t compete with any of these outsourcers who provide their people for <400$ a day etc. But at least we can assist customers during the evaluation process and bring in our technical knowledge to make sure people really understand what they claim to do. Maybe you are in  a similar situation: You cannot afford the high rate top consultant but would like to have some cheaper ones. But nevertheless you want to be sure the quality of skills provided are at least according to what they tell you. Then really work together with someone who can challenge the skill set adequately.
  • Let applicants do some hands-on activities. Nothing gives you more insight than how a candidate behaves using a “real” system. Let me share with you how we do at IT-Logix: We use cloudshare.com and for example our preconfigured SAP BO 4.x environment (see my previous blog) and simply share a copy with a candidate, mostly right away at the beginning of the interview appointment. In addition we distribute a set of activity instructions including the tasks to be solved by the candidate. Afterwards he / she will have some time to work on these tasks and finally to present the results. This is sometimes amazing how vast the difference can be between a candidate’s CV and the hands-on experience… I have to add that of course it is fairly easy to setup a cloud environment for SAP BO. It might take some more efforts to do so for other SAP applications like SAP NW etc. But maybe there are other cloud solutions out there or you can somehow use your internal demo environment.

What is your experience with recruiting consultants? How do you verify their skillset? Do you think it is an overkill to do hands-on assessments? I’m happy to ready your comments!

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One Response to How to improve the process of hiring an (SAP BO) consultant

  1. Nick Daniels says:

    I like your use of cloudshare.com. One of my recent clients interviewed dozens of people for a BO role. He had devised a very simple set of universe based exercises. They were so simple it must have been painful to watch person after person fail to rename the universe, add a new class, add a join etc. On the certification front, I’d love to be certified but won’t waste my time until I know that it differentiates me from the liars and cheaters.

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