Considering SAP Learning’s digital skills initiative going live last year, I thought I would share a rough guideline for those out there who are starting from scratch or from non-traditional backgrounds toward their developer career path in the SAP ecosystem. (Check out my blog on the consultant role here.)
The target role of this blog is going to be a developer – specifically an SAP Certified Development Associate - SAP BTP Extension Developer, but I hope a lot of the other information on this blog will be helpful for other developer goals as well.
Disclaimer: be sure to check your local job market to understand what specific skillsets are being sought – this may vary according to region and industry.
There are two career situations that I would like to focus on, and they will modify your starting point:
Starting from scratch
- You have no idea what SAP is
- You have never coded or had any experience programming
- You are willing to work a year or more to achieve this goal
Transitioning or laid-off
- You have several years’ experience as a software developer and are changing directions
Starting from Scratch
If you find yourself in a situation with zero experience as a software developer, there is a lot to learn before going into the SAP specifics. Jump back and forth between this content and the courses under the “Transitioning” section at your leisure.
What is SAP?
The first thing you should figure out is what SAP is all about to determine if a job in the SAP ecosystem is right for you. (The SAP ecosystem encompasses SAP itself, partner companies that extend SAP’s reach globally and customer companies running SAP software. – All of whom may offer employment opportunities.)
Hopefully with this information you can determine if you’d like to take steps toward upskilling for a job in this domain.
If you still need a better understanding, I can attempt an analogy: Think of an amusement park and the magical experience it provides visitors with its rides, atmosphere, and fun experiences. Now think of what goes on behind the scenes of that experience – the carefully timed ballet of machines, electronics, music, art, food, and people that make it all happen. Most park visitors can only appreciate the experience being sold to them without giving the mechanism behind it all a second thought, but others are interested in looking a bit deeper, in understanding how it all works behind the scenes. Can you see yourself being part of that second, more curious group?
SAP is running the carefully timed ballet of behind-the-scenes processes that make some of the highest profile consumer brands run. Ask yourself if being one of the specialists who helps make this happen is an intriguing prospect.
Regarding SAP BTP, imagine yourself in a workshop packed with tools & guidebooks designed to fabricate customized parts. You have customers running their own unique machines which do all kinds of tasks across their respective industries. One agriculture customer has a set of harvesters that they want to connect to a new instant grain purchase and distribution pipeline which eliminates their need to store grain onsite and find a buyer. The customer brings their harvesters to your workshop for a custom fitting to be built which will enable their harvesters to connect to this grain pipeline network to transfer the grain, communicate the weight, grain type and price to the network.
You, your knowledge, the workshop, and tools make this integration point possible. This is just one example of what your workshop might be tasked with doing – maybe you will be extending the capabilities of a customer’s machine with new add-ons or even building a new machine from scratch.
This is the best analogy I can come up with that describes SAP BTP – it is the platform, tools and best practices which make the integration between a company’s unique processes/systems and an SAP solution possible. With your skills on the BTP platform you can build software that bridges gaps and builds new functions. You can imagine that the complexity of some of these situations would make your skillsets a high demand commodity.
Soft skills and business acumen
Depending on your employment background, you may need to brush up on your soft skills and business acumen. These are the things the folks going the traditional path of 4-year universities and master’s degrees are going to have a bit more practice with. But not to worry; the resources on these topics can be found with your favorite internet search engine. Think of things like presentation skills, professional communication, problem solving, analysis etc.
First things first – do you know how to learn? This may sound silly, but I am a product of memorization-based education where learning and study strategies were never taught. I can recommend learning how to learn if you also find yourself in this situation.
Next, consider opening a free account at the Accenture Skills to Succeed Academy. Accenture is one of those companies in the SAP ecosystem that hires people like consultants – they know exactly what is needed to get the job done. You can find free courses on most critical soft skills that they are looking for in new hires.
Understand the job role
Let’s address the developer role. Do you know what a developer does? Are you sure you’d like to be one?
I’ve personally interviewed a SAP Developer on the SAP Learning Insights podcast, you can listen to our chat here.
Look at these resources for more insight:
What Is It Like to Be a Software Engineer?
Senior software engineer: What I do and how much I make
How I Would Learn To Code (If I Could Start Over)
The Harsh Reality of Being a Software Engineer
Why 95% of Self-Taught Programmers Fail (Honest Advice)
Introduction to Computer Science
Some of the top Universities in the world publish their courses for free. Take advantage of this. You don’t need to study computer science to code but having the context of computer science as foundational knowledge will be a big help – especially if you plan of skipping a traditional 4-year degree. Below is one of the best computer science courses ever created courtesy of Harvard University:
Harvard CS50 – Full Computer Science University Course
Proficiency in JS can take 4-7 months. Feel free to study the next steps in parallel to this once you get a baseline understanding. Continue searching for JS boot camps and free exercises- you can build skills here for years.
Intro to JS: Drawing & Animation
Keep in mind that courses will only get you so far. Be sure to supplement with bootcamps, practical exercises and open source projects to get hands-on experience.
Transitioning or laid off
If you already have experience as a software developer, consider starting here. If you are starting from scratch, you can already start exploring this as you cover the fundamentals listed at the start of this blog.
Baseline technical knowledge behind SAP (22 Hours)
This learning journey is going to begin laying out the big picture and prepare you for the more advanced role-specific training ahead.
Introducing End-to-End Business Processes for the Intelligent Enterprise
Introduction to a specific developer skillset (6.5 Hours)
Here, you begin to get into the details of BTP.
Discover SAP Business Technology Platform
Detailed developer technical skillset - prepare for the SAP Certification Exam (25 Hours)
Learn how to execute a key functional task with BTP
Build side-by-side extensions on SAP BTP
Get certified (1.5 Hours)
This is the exam that will add your first official SAP credential to your repertoire. You can buy a certification attempt here. If you are a student, buy a discounted attempt here. Or you can apply for a free certification attempt with the digital skills initiative.
SAP Certified Development Associate - SAP BTP Extension Developer
Apply for internship or job
Check out the Career Corner for job openings as well as other job boards. One cool thing about the career corner is that you can post questions about postings and get answers from the folks within the hiring company. Give it a try!