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Understanding the Competency Framework to Select a SAP Partner: Part 2

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SAP delivers the tools that modern businesses need as they navigate successful digital transformation and achieve a new, more agile, more flexible way of operating. But it is the network of SAP Partners that helps customers to harness the full power of these tools, making SAP's product roster fully accessible to all organisations that can benefit from it.

In this article – the second in our series – we're going to look into the SAP Competency Framework. This is a process that helps customers assess and evaluate the partners within SAP's network, defining which partner is the best suited for the project at hand. Within this framework, customers can quickly identify the core competencies of each partner, the industries they operate in, and their level of expertise. This is a critical first step for customers as they find SAP partner organisations they can truly rely on.

Understanding the Competency Framework: A Quick Recap

We already explored just what the Competency Framework represents and how it works in our last article – and you can take a look at this by clicking the link right here. Before we get into this second article, however, let's have a quick recap.

The framework gives customers a quick reference point so that they can learn more about the verified competency ratings for each SAP Partner. The seven competencies are:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Human Capital Management
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Spend Management
  • ERP for Small and Midsize Enterprises
  • SAP Business Technology Platform

Within these competencies are specialisations. There are 21 of these specialisations in total, and each represents a proven instance of successful implementation of an SAP product. Partners build their competency accreditation by adding these specialisations to their profile – moving from Essential to Advanced to Expert.

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Assessing SAP Partners Using the Competency Framework

Before you can start working with an SAP Partner, you first need to fully understand the Competency Framework and how it works. Let's take a look at how you can assess SAP Partners with this framework.

Revisiting the Steps of Competency Assessment

The Competency Framework pages are designed to be easily accessible for SAP customers. You start by searching for a candidate with the SAP Partner Finder Tool, refining these results by Solution, Industry, or Location or by searching for the Partner Name directly.

From here, select the service card to learn more, scrolling down the page to view the industries, solutions, competencies and specialisations this candidate has. You can also view a wealth of other information, provided by the Competency Framework, before they make their final call.

Assessing Competency in Practice: Examples of How the Framework Is Used

How does this work in practice? Let's take a look at how you might assess the competency of an SAP Partner like Discovery Consulting.

Arriving at the Discover Consulting Partner Card and scrolling down, you'll immediately be able to see the Competencies and Specialisations section, with three blue chips under the Human Capital Management section and one each under the Enterprise Resource Planning and SAP Business Technology Platform. This is a quick reference to denote Expert-level competency in the Human Capital Management, followed by Essential-level in the other two competencies.

But what are the specifics of these competencies? Let's look at Human Capital Management first. Below this competency, you'll see four points listed – Compensation and Commission, Core HR and Payroll, Learning, and Talent Management. This provides you with specific insight into how Discover Consulting has achieved this competency level.

How to Rate and Compare Different Partners

There are many SAP Partners out there, but not every partner is going to be right for you. Even if you have a specific competency in mind, there may be a number of partners who meet the level requirement you are looking for – so how do you differentiate between these partners? To do this, you need to drill down a little bit further into the data.

SAP Solutions

As we touched on at the top of this article, SAP delivers a wealth of different tools and solutions. You need to know that your prospective partner has experience in the solutions relevant to your business. This part of the Partner Card will demonstrate the solutions the SAP Partner works with.

Focus Industries

This section of the card outlines the industries and sectors the partner works within – make sure these industries align with your own.

Number of Delivered Projects

The number of delivered projects in the last 24 month period, is an important point of comparison, as it demonstrates the extent of the partner's experience and their previous delivery volume.

Project Locations

Different international locations will have their own specific requirements and aspects – the Project Locations sector helps you to understand where the partner is operating.

Certified Consultants

The Certified Consultants section is represented simply as a checkmark. This symbol confirms that the partner meets the number of certified consultants required to effectively deliver a particular offering.

Competency Framework Case Studies

You can gain even more understanding of how the Competency Framework works in practice by looking at two key use cases.

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Case Study 1: Existing SAP Customer

The customer is already utilising the SAP SuccessFactors product. However, their in-house team lacks the resources and capabilities required to unlock the optimal benefit of SuccessFactors.

This is an easy fix using the Competency Framework. The customer already knows what solution they need assistance with, and so they use this knowledge to search within the framework. From here, they identify partners with the requisite experience in using this solution, and then they compile a shortlist of candidates.

The list is narrowed down further according to the number of projects delivered, the localisation of the partner's operational area, and the specific industry experience. With this shortlist, the customer contacts potential partners directly before making the final choice.

Case Study 2: Prospective SAP Customer

The prospective customer is not yet using SAP's products and does not know precisely which solution they need to implement within their own digital infrastructure.

This makes things a little more complex than with Case Study 1, but only slightly. The prospective customer can still search for key competencies from the list – in this instance, it is Human Capital Management they are looking for.

From here, they can use the data from the Partner Card to understand which candidates represent the best potential option. Again, the customer looks at localisation and industry, as well as the number of delivered projects and the competency level. They may also look at other competency levels to see which of these are relevant to the business's needs – an important point of differentiation when selecting a partner. Finally, they will contact potential partners directly before selecting a final option.

Best Practices for Using the Competency Framework

The Competency Framework is designed to be clear and concise so that customers can quickly examine and compare the offerings of different partners. However, there are best practices you can deploy to get the best from the framework. 

Tailor the Framework Data to Your Needs

Exploring all the information on the Partner Card is of course important, as this will give a more complete understanding, but you need to remain aware of your specific needs. Keep in mind the type of solution and the type of industry you operate in, and avoid comparing metrics that are not relevant to your operations.

Pay Attention to Localisation

Under SAP's own guidelines, localisation is critical. The SAP product roster is an international one, with solutions delivered right across the world. You need a partner who is fully aware of the operational practices and regulatory requirements that apply to your specific location.

Look for the Checkmark as well as the Competency Level

The Certified Consultants checkmark is sometimes overlooked, simply because it does not provide the same sort of qualitative insight as other data points on the Partner Card. However, you are advised to look for this mark to ensure that the partner has enough verified experts to deliver at the required level.

Consider Business Values and Communication

SAP also advises speaking directly with partner candidates you identify via the framework. This will help you to understand how the candidates' business values, commitment to communication, and general outlook align with your own.


SAP provides the solutions and the tools, while the SAP Partner Network provides the capabilities and competencies that unlock the benefits. As the network grows, SAP customers need a way to effectively navigate the benefits offered by each one of the partners, learning more about the advantages these candidates provide on the way to making the right selection. This is where the Competency Framework comes into play.

With this framework, the journey becomes much simpler for customers – you'll be able to compare and contrast the different attributes and capabilities of your partner candidates with ease. For partners, there are many advantages – the framework gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities in a specific field and serves as a valuable lead generation and relationship building tool.

Browse the SAP Competency Framework using the SAP Partner Finder Tool to help you connect with the right candidates in your field. This is a crucial asset as you build lasting relationships with trusted partners.

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