Posted on August 2021 By Judy Cole
It’s the start of a new financial year and usually we post a blog about our annual company offsite. That’s where we spend a day working (reviewing the year’s sales results and stats, giving awards, setting goals and focus for the coming year), followed by two or three days of fun team activities.
We planned our offsite (a Melbourne staycation of three nights at The Langham with three days of fancy dinners, games, wineries, races and Segways). We even started our offsite but as with everything planned this year, COVID lockdown scuppered those plans on day one! Much to everyone’s delight we did manage to get the work section of the agenda completed and a few drinks in before the lockdown hit at 8pm.
So while I have no fun photos of the team to share, I do have stats on how we performed in the year and thus how the SAP market performed.
Sales versus Target
We had the best sales year in Speller’s 21-year history. We achieved 135% of target and ended the year on 166 SAP consultants/contractors out working via Speller at customer sites across Australia and New Zealand. This was a surprise (and a relief) as we started the year on our lowest contractor numbers in more than 10 years due to the number of people unfortunately let go in Q4 last year due to COVID and the first global lockdowns.
After the initial shock of COVID, it didn’t take long for people and companies to realise it was likely to be around for a while and it was just not feasible to stop all work.
In fact, it has accelerated IT initiatives from the obvious Cloud implementations to support the NEED to work from home to the not-so-obvious accelerators driven by government initiatives to support the Australian economy and create jobs. Asset write-off schemes, access to grants, BAC funding and payroll tax exemptions across many different industries allowed companies to buy new sites and equipment, set up more manufacturing lines and warehouses, invest in technology and train and upskill their workforce. Lucky for all of us, they all drive IT/SAP work - or rather SAP/IT can drive them!
This year we saw a major comeback of work within the Manufacturing sector with one-third of the companies we dealt with being manufacturing companies (including FMCG), We were also busy across Retail, Logistics and Government (state and federal).
With the above in mind we naturally saw a significant increase in the SAP manufacturing and logistics modules (MM, PP, WM, SD, LE, PM, APO/IBP and QM) not quite all topping our list of most filled positions for the year but all with an increase of at least 200% over what we placed the previous year.
Our top five (well, actually eight as we had a few ties) most placed skillset for the year is below (with the busiest at the top);
1. SAP Developers (including Fiori)
2. SAP Training and Documentation
3. SAP Project Management (including Program Management/Project Director) joint with SAP FICO Functional Consultant
4. SAP SD Functional Consultant joint with Change Management (including Comms)
5. SAP Analytics (BW/BI/BO/SAC/Hana) joint with SAP Testing
These eight skillsets covered 55% of our new business placements for the year!
Stats to be proud of
At the start of the year our goal was to stop shrinking, stabilise and slowly rebuild. The market was uncertain and we wanted to focus on quality and customer care through what was predicted to be a very tough time.
We set a target of a 2.5:1 role to placement ratio (meaning for every 2.5 SAP vacant requirements we receive we wanted to place one of them) We achieved a 2.01:1 requirement to placement ratio and in Q1 and Q2 is was 1.9:1 – which means both the quality of the requirements we received and the quality of delivery was incredibly high.
I am very proud of the Speller team for this stat as it is significantly lower than recruitment average and means that our SAP consultants can rest assured that the roles we contact them about are likely to actually go ahead and are likely to be filled – by us!
What’s in store for this year?
This year we will continue to see increased demand across the SAP market in both contract and permanent requirements. It is certainly a good time to be in IT!
We are already seeing that companies are preferring to move back to an onshore model (albeit remote Australian workforces) mainly due to countries such as India really struggling with the pandemic and unfortunately not always having the ‘at home’ infrastructure for their workforce to maintain uninterrupted Australian support from home.
Many companies have thrived through the pandemic (and/or the deterioration of Australia/China relationships) – for example, retail, home improvements, discount, logistics and warehousing, and pharmaceutical, and we do not see that slowing down just yet.
We are heading into what we in the recruitment market call a ‘candidate short market’. I have not seen that in my 17 years of working in the Australian SAP market. We have seen it happen across some specific and specialised skillsets but not the entire SAP market – think SAP SuccessFactors a couple of years ago.
The SAP market busier than I have ever seen it – which in itself would cause the candidate-short market but we also have the added impact of border closures stopping specialised international SAP skillset sets coming into Australia and New Zealand, which is stretching our SAP resource pool even thinner.
As with anything, if Australian and New Zealand businesses do not plan for this market change then they are going to find themselves in a tricky situation when it comes to assuming they can hire quickly at the rates they were paying this time last year.
My advice to companies is to work with your specialist IT recruiters in each software (this is not just SAP), partner with them and give them as much input and visibility into your requirements in advance. Engage with them before budget sign-off so that you can get a realistic price on your required skillset. Give your recruiter the tools and information to be able to sell your company and project over others.
When it comes to extensions, communicate well in advance – our consultants are getting called multiple times a week regarding new opportunities. If you drag your feet in the extension process then you will lose your consultant to another company.
My advice to SAP consultants
Keep true to your own ethics and values. If you commit to something then see it through. Keep open lines of communication with your recruiter or employer and let them know any concerns well in advance.
We can work with timeframes so if you are being ‘chased’ for roles and are unsure if you are getting an offer or being extended then give them an idea of how long you are willing to hold off on accepting other opportunities. Also, be wary of being given huge rates to persuade you to come to them as this usually ends in two ways:
1. You have an incredibly high price tag on you when you get to the client, so the client naturally expects a lot more from you. Remember, the people who you work with day to day do not necessarily know how you got to the rate - they just see a high cost to their project. They associate that cost to what they have paid in the past for very senior people and will likely expect the level of experience from you which maybe outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t ‘wow’ them, then unfortunately you disappoint them and that has a knock-on effect to your reputation. While I encourage you to make hay while the sun shines, be reasonable with the extra money you request for the level of role required.
2. You are a high cost to the company so as soon as you are not busy, you are the first person to be cut.
This is an incredibly exciting time in SAP and IT. Here at Speller we are making the most of the market conditions and growing to be able to service our client and consultant needs – stay tuned for some further Speller announcements and changes coming!