Just last week, my Dad and I were discussing and debating the value of certifications in the real world – a contentious topic that is widely debated across different professions. Being a civil engineer, my Dad shudders at the idea of hiring a newbie engineer who has achieved a professional qualification without any exposure to applying this knowledge practically. In his industry, practical experience is a requirement. However, only gaining hands-on experience and not having the necessary professional qualification also excludes applicants. The candidates he would consider hiring have the necessary professional qualification and have completed a practical internship of sorts with an engineering firm – the best of both worlds.
Certification in the IT world is like a professional qualification. I have seen arguments for and against getting professionally certified and there are valid points on both sides. In the IT industry, there are also definite pros and cons to obtaining an IT product (ERP) certification.
Getting ERP certified – The Pros
- When employees register to get certified in a particular ERP module or business process, they are exposed to all the features and functions, including topics that they may not know about. This may help them to improve in their current roles or make it easier to transition to another role within the same company or at a different company.
- Knowing more about a module enables employees potentially to apply a broader scope of the ERP system within their company, thereby improving the use of the ERP system and consequently, the return on investment for the system.
- Knowing more about business processes within an ERP context makes employees aware of their impact on others and on the business, which could, in turn, change behaviour.
- Having an ERP certification in a particular module or business process indicates to recruiters and managers that candidates have a certain level of knowledge about the module or business process. This can help candidates in getting their first foot on the career ladder and put them ahead of other candidates who don’t have the ERP certification.
- Achieving a certification in an ERP module or business process indicates employees’ commitment to learning about and keeping up-to-date with their knowledge, which could have an impact on them receiving promotions, advancements or increases.
- Obtaining an ERP certification indicates that employees or job candidates are capable of learning and that, even though they may not know the answer to a question, they have the resources to find the answer to a question or problem.
- Consultants may be required to maintain minimum numbers of certified employees to participate in various partner programs. They may also benefit from having ERP-certified employees, as it improves customer confidence.
Getting ERP certified – The Cons
- Although being ERP certified indicates that employees may have had enough knowledge at one point to pass the exam, it is not a reliable indicator that they have the knowledge now.
- Certifications often have a limited shelf life and therefore require employees to keep up-to-date with the latest product version of the ERP. This can be time consuming and costly, and does not necessarily guarantee them a job or a promotion.
- Having an ERP certification does not necessarily mean that prospective job candidates have the required experience levels and soft skills (communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, team work, etc.) to be able to perform a job effectively. Therefore recruiters and managers who select prospective job candidates based mainly on their ERP certification risk employing individuals who do not have the required experienced or soft skills for the job.
- If certification assessment questions are not significantly different from one exam to the next, individuals may be able to cheat with the help of someone who has taken the exam previously. This means the certification may not indicate that an individual even has the knowledge that the certification claims they have.
- In many cases, the purpose of the certification exam is to assess an individual’s ability to answer knowledge-based questions, and does not extend to assessing their ability to use the ERP system effectively or efficiently to solve real world problems. The challenge in assessing at an application level is that there may be many ways to resolve a problem, but multiple choice type questions restrict the individual’s answer options to three or four possibilities.
I believe there is a place for certification but that it is limited to proving that you had enough knowledge at that time to pass a knowledge-level exam. However, I don’t believe that it means that you are an expert or a master in a subject you are certified in, nor does it necessarily indicate that you have experience in or can apply this knowledge in solving problems or challenges in your work environment.
What are your thoughts on getting certified in an ERP system?