SAP Making An End-Run Around Crummy Consulting Firms?

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There’s a great scene in The Untouchables where Sean Connery’s wizened old Irish cop tells Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness that if he wants to find honest soldiers, he should skip the corrupt precinct cops and go straight to the police academy.

So is SAP (SAP) getting ready to do things the Chicago way?

The German ERP software giant today announced a new initiative to reach out directly to university students and get them started on SAP tech.

Great idea. SAP-specific languages like “ABAP” generally aren’t (weren’t) taught in schools. Workers typically enter the SAP labour pool via the big consulting firms, who act as gatekeepers and train recent college grads on SAP technical skills and methodology.

The problem with that model — as SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker recently noted — is a lot of those same consulting firms do a terrible job at SAP integrations. But it’s SAP that ends up with a rep for massive implementation failures like the recently $25 million dollar botched attempt by the State of California to run SAP payroll.

So SAP is going direct to the college kids hoping to get them up to speed early.

The program might help relieve a few of the consultants Leo noted “are walking around talking to customers and have no experience on [SAP].” But ultimately, SAP is going to have to decide: Try to make it easier for people to learn SAP tech and hope the bad consultant problem goes away on its own, or risk alienating its partners and do front-to-back SAP customisations itself?

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