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lukemarson
Active Contributor

My blog SuccessFactors Training and Certification FAQ that was published back in December 2013 provided all of the relevant information relating to SuccessFactors training and certification and has been viewed over 40,000 times to-date. With rapid and big changes taking place over the last year, I thought it was time to update my blog to include latest and greatest information and also answer some of the questions as below:

  • How can I obtain the training?
  • Where can I get the training from?
  • As a consultant, what should I do in order to get certified, either as an Associate or as a Professional?
  • How do I make the transition to SuccessFactors?

How do I get trained on SuccessFactors?

Training courses are available to all SAP Learning Hub subscribers with one of the following subscriptions:

  • Customer Edition (HUB020)
  • Partner Education (HUB030)

SuccessFactors trainings are available only via SAP Learning Hub or SAP Education Webshop, which are accessed with the URL http://training.sap.com. Any trainings offered by any party other than SAP are not authorized and authenticated by SAP, so these should be avoided.

Are there prerequisites for me to take a SuccessFactors course?

The prerequisite course for all SuccessFactors training is the Introduction to SuccessFactors HCM Academy course (course code THR80). This must be completed before any subsequent training can be taken. Some courses have an additional prerequisite:

What courses do SuccessFactors offer?

The following courses are offered on SAP Learning Hub (click the link to see the course path and view the individual courses for each path):

Career Development Planning (course code THR95) is due to be launched later in 2015. All courses for Human Capital Management (HCM) - including other SuccessFactors courses - can be viewed here.

How does the training work?

Training is offered as self-learning or as Virtual Instructor Led Classes (VLC), which is delivered virtually. There is also a strong emphasis on collaborative learning via SAP Jam and you will be expected to actively participate in the SAP Jam group. SuccessFactors holds regular check-in meetings via Adobe Connect.

Self-learning courses are offered as part of the SAP Learning Hub subscriptions mentioned above while the VLC is an additional paid fee. The VLCs include the following:

  • 1-3 weeks of live instruction, delivered virtually
  • Training systems for hands on practice and completion of assigned exercises
  • Daily Q&A session
  • Best practices

Does completing the training make me “certified”?

Once you have completed the training you need to take and pass the certification to become a Certified Application Associate (see below for more detail). Only employees of official SuccessFactors partners are eligible to take the certification exam.

Why are only partner employees allowed to take certification?

This is because there are a number of systems provided by SAP to partners that are required to implement SuccessFactors and access to these are part of the Partner agreement between SuccessFactors and partners. These systems include the SuccessFactors LMS, SAP Jam, SuccessFactors Partner Portal, Provisioning, and SuccessFactors demo systems. In future SAP are planning to open this to customers, but the revamping of the program is still in its early days.

So once I’ve taken the exam, that’s it?

Not exactly. Taking and passing the certification gives you Certified Application Associate level. However, in order to retain this certification you must take delta exams within 6 months of the exam’s availability date. These ensure that you stay up-to-date on the latest releases and understand the ever-changing functionality and concepts of the SuccessFactors systems. If a delta exam is not completed by the deadline then certification will expire. By registering for SAP Credential Manager once you pass the Certified Associate certification exam, you will be notified of a Delta exam availability and deadlines.

I’m a Certified Application Associate, so I’m “certified” right?

Yes and no. There are two levels of certification with a clear distinction that customers look for.

Certified Application Associate means that the consultant has successfully passed the training exam. It does not mean that they have any implementation experience. Many consultants and/or consultancies refer to Certified Associate as “Certified” as a colloquialism or – in some cases – to hide the fact that they may be inexperienced.

Certified Application Professional means that the consultant has reached Certified Associate level and – in addition – has successfully led at least two lifecycle customer implementations with hands-on experience, which SuccessFactors has verified with the customers. These consultants typically are experienced enough to lead a customer project or act as a solution architect of some variety.

If I take the training do I get Provisioning access?

As with becoming “certified”, only employees of SuccessFactors partners can get Provisioning access. This is one of the many areas that are provided as part of the Partner agreement between SuccessFactors and partners.

What sort of experience do I need?

There is no particular experience required, but it does help to be familiar with the module you are taking and to have knowledge of XML. Business process experience is not required for the training, but it helps to understand the various functions of the application that you are training on.

Can I just take a course with a 3rd party instead?

SAP Learning Hub is the only location to take trainings and become a Certified Application Associate. Trainings offered by any other providers are not official and should be avoided. They do not count towards SAP courses or certifications.

Do I need training? Can't I just learn on the Job?

SuccessFactors training equips you with the fundamentals of each application, but much of the real learning happens on projects so it is advised to shadow an experienced consultant on your first few projects. Like with any software, there are many nuances and caveats that you cannot learn in a training course and there is no substitute for experience.

Although this practice does occur with SAP ERP HCM, without taking the training it is not possible to get Provisioning access or to have the customer instance mapped to your Provisioning account. In addition, there are many nuances to each solution that would not be known without taking official training.

Customers need to understand that it is the Wild West out there right now and it is important to follow some of the tips in Jarret Pazahanick’s Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant as well ensure that your SuccessFactors Consultant has the appropriate training, certifications, and experience as without it they are not going to be able to help you sufficiently. Customers also need to understand that implementing Cloud is different from implementing on-premise.

What does a course entail?

Each course varies in format, length, and delivery. I’ll cover each of them briefly:

Generally each 5-day course has a 2-hour check-in meeting each day. Each 10-day course generally has 5x 3-hour check-in meetings. There will be 3 meetings in the first week – which includes the introductory meeting on the first day of the course – and 2 meetings in the second week. The Employee Central Academy (THR81) course has an additional 2 check-in meetings in the third week. The check-in meetings enable the trainer to cover a number of topics, test the participants on their learning and request demonstrations, track progress, and answer any questions.

Why are only employees of SuccessFactors partners allowed to take training?

As mentioned above, there are a number of different systems required to take training and it can be difficult to provide access to non-partners. I am hopeful that this will change over time once the sheer demand for training subsides but in the interim think it is smart to limit it to ensure that unauthorized training centers don’t open up as this has historically been a problem in the SAP ecosystem. At present, there is a huge demand for training from existing partners and courses fill up quickly.

How much does it cost?

Both the customer edition (HUB020) and the partner edition (HUB030) subscriptions cost EUR 2,500 per year. The Certification Hub subscription – which is required to take Cloud certification exams (up to six Associate and delta exams per year) – costs EUR 500 per year.

Do customers need to hire Certified Application Professional consultants?

Although it is not mandatory, project success always depends on experience. Having a Certified Application Professional leading your project is the only way to ensure that you have the genuine expertise. It is ok having a Certified Application Associate on the project, as long as they are working for an experienced lead. Whether the consultant is a Solution Architect or Functional Consultant, they need to have hands-on experience to truly know the solution they will implement for you.

Customers should make sure to have consultants clarify which type of “certification” they have and to ask consultants to provide a copy of their certification certificate.

Disclaimer

It's important for me to point out that courses are updated quarterly and that course modality, duration, and titles are subject to change based on business demand. Anything I have written here is subject to change at any point by SAP, as clearly was the case between the previous blog and this updated edition!

Key resources

There are some key resources that you can use to help learn about SuccessFactors and SuccessFactors training:

Summary

Much like SuccessFactors in general, SuccessFactors training and certification is not the same as what SAP HCM consultants will be used to and is constantly evolving. There are different methods and formats required and the outcomes are different. While training is now open to everyone, certification and Provisioning access is still only available for SuccessFactors partners. This may change in the future as the current changes become tried and tested, but in the short-term customers can at least get trained and provide hands-on support to both implementations and post Go Live activities.

To stay current on this topic and SuccessFactors in general I would highly recommend joining the SAP and SuccessFactors Linkedin Group.

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