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Operating in a post-Covid and S/4HANA era, businesses need to ensure they have the SAP professionals onboard to steer them through the recovery and beyond. With many organisations ramping up digital capabilities, SAP professionals will play an integral role in future proofing businesses by aligning new and emerging technologies to enable strategy.

SAP professionals’ skillsets are invaluable, as they are able to streamline operating models and processes, providing valuable insight into growth opportunities and loss areas – across multiple departments, sectors, and countries. And with approximately 70% of the Fortune 100 companies and over 50% of the Fortune 500 companies using SAP as their preferred Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, professionals know they’re in demand.

Businesses need to ensure they are in the best position to attract, retain and develop current and future SAP talent. With 79% of organisations saying they are concerned about a shortage of SAP skills in the future, it’s imperative to get this right. So, what can businesses do now to support the pipeline of SAP professionals and future proof skills?

Support continuous learning

Securing a more competitive salary always tops lists as to why SAP professionals leave an organisation (28%), but it is closely followed by career enhancement (28%) and opportunities to work on newer technologies (25%). For organisations to attract and retain talent, they need to ensure that they are providing professionals with opportunities for growth and development.

Supporting redeployment across the business, allowing professionals to move from a finance to commercial department for example, can help reinvigorate their role. Providing opportunities to learn new software, such as migrating an organisation onto SAP S/4 HANA, can engage professionals with continuous learning whilst supporting organisational modernisation and growth. This also helps to future proof skills, as SAP professionals will be using the most up-to-date systems and processes – enabling them to get closer to the business and understand how to maximise ROI.

Diversify

The global pandemic opened up opportunities to work across countries and continents in a way never seen before. With almost two-thirds (65%) of organisations saying the increase in remote working is making future recruits’ geographic location less important, businesses need to cast their net wider in accessing SAP talent. Looking at talent from other countries and considering different market entry points – such as career switchers – is an important element in meeting future skill demands and maintaining neurodiversity within an organisation.

There is a school of thought that whilst SAP hold the market share on ERP, the law of economics suggests that top players don’t stay in place forever. So, keep an eye on other disruptors in the market, providing professionals with an opportunity to diversify and futureproof their skillsets – allowing them to make other products and solutions work better for the business.

Address skills shortages internally

Where organisations are already experiencing skills shortages, or can see one on the horizon, it may require businesses to take matters into their own hands. Creating internal training programmes and tailoring recruitment processes can help to grow SAP talent from within.

Even SAP, as an organisation, is looking to create opportunities by investing €250m in the UK economy, and support 250 candidates through its internship programme by 2026. Working in collaboration with Nottingham University to develop “SAP Next-Gen Lab”, the organisation hopes to promote start-up activity among students.

SAP professionals are in the unique position to be able to transform businesses, and in a post-pandemic world this capability is in higher demand than ever before. With many organisations looking to explore new ventures, integrating AI and improving cloud functionality for example, SAP professionals play a vital role in setting up the systems to interpret data effectively.

Operating in an ever-digitised world, SAP professionals are central to ensuring businesses remain relevant, capable, and scalable. And in order for organisations to survive and thrive, they must ensure that they are providing suitable opportunities for professionals to flourish and new talent to enter the market.