The Long Haulage of the SAP Talent Shortage

It was buried in the IDC report but the equally thrilling and worrying development is that:

“…280,000 SAP consultant roles will be created globally between 2020 and 2024…”

and in regards to that demand translating locally, SAP expects:

“…more than 500 Australian companies to move to the new platform over the next seven years…”

Plus, 4500 companies across Asia Pacific planning their digital journeys…

Aka: an immense increase in demand for SAP talent globally, with 100’s of upcoming projects locally, also to be staffed, enabled and supported. This, against a backdrop of lower skilled migration (thanks covid), higher demand for local resources (thanks epic concurrent government projects), plus all the other fun workforce trends inspiring established, experienced tech workers to lead The Great Resignation….all happening at the same time that the old guard of experienced SAP Consultants are now moving up and off the tools, or moving on and out of the industry completely.

The talent weather forecast is decidedly alarmingly: Growing demand… against plummeting supply, for at least the next several years.

It’s not going to be enough to just hope for the borders to re-open: those 280,000 new roles are global, meaning Australia will be competing for resources with the rest of the world, and possibly losing more travel-hungry local resources to global opportunities in the process.

So if you think finding SAP talent is hard now, the news of this even greater imminent and ongoing demand for SAP skills is essentially the talent acquisition equivalent of surviving the marathon so far, and just now hitting Heartbreak Hill.

The ramifications for a SAP talent shortage in Australia is how it will affect our ability to enable the digital journeys of a multitude of Australian companies across virtually every industry. In effect, shackling progress around business efficiencies, sustainability improvements and industry innovations. While the nature of SAP projects may be currently undergoing their own change from the months or years-long behemoths, to faster weeks and quarters-long value realisation, they all still require human talent enablement to make them happen. With SAP projections of sustained growth, future increases in market share and general worldwide domination of digital and cloud solutions: the talent shortage is well beyond a seasonal inconvenience.

We are going to need more local SAP talent, and better access to it.

The consulting industry traditionally whips out the old ‘lets-just-buy-the-smaller-competition’ trick, for an instant injection of talent through corporate acquisition. But:

Simply moving existing talent around, doesn’t solve the complex need to develop more of it.

There are also the usual retention strategies to cling wrap existing staff, normal graduate schemes with long development lead times, or just outright trying to poach everyone else’s staff. But again, they are all just the carousel of existing talent, without actually bolstering or enriching the ranks. Robbing from a finite pool of resources, isn’t building a sustainable future – for anyone.

The current shortage could well be about to get even shorter, and business is going to need to look beyond traditional talent strategies to build longer term and more sustainable skills funnels.

The talent shortage is here for the long haul, and not going to be solved by simply waiting for the borders to open and expecting to swell the ranks with skilled migration.

But the upside to this dilemma of the supply/demand seesaw: is that SAP people are innovative folk, known for taking on the trickiest of problems, and getting on with the job of solving them. SAP folk can be annoyingly good at fixing problems other people said couldn’t be fixed.

This problem just happens to be an industry-wide one, which may well need an industry-wide solution, beyond the old poach/acquire/import strategies.



Insights from this article:

  • Globally – increasing demand and growth of SAP market share is creating 280,000 net-new SAP Consulting roles….
  • Locally – over 500+ Australian companies planning SAP projects in next 7 years
  • Further talent loss coming, as established mid-career tech industry workers are leading ‘The Great Resignation’
  • It’s not enough to wait for the borders to open to solve these SAP talent shortages.
  • Traditional recruitment strategies just move SAP talent around the industry, which creates price pressures: not new or sustainable sources of talent.
  • The SAP Talent challenge is a real, industry-wide issue.



SAP Australia back in black despite slump in services revenue

AFR, May 2021


Australia poses ‘real growth opportunity’ for global SAP partners

ARN, October 2020


Here’s everything we know about ‘The Great Resignation,’ who’s quitting, and why

Business Insider Australia, September 2021


Financial News

SAP, 2021