Dexteyra Consulting Group Inc.

Canada Inc.'s Burgeoning Competency in SAP Consulting Business

M.S. Oberoi*

April 09, 2010

Overview

I remember attending a SAP conference held in downtown Toronto during March of 2010. I was surprised to meet a considerably high number of experienced SAP Consultants who have moved to Canada from USA on immigration. There were a few consultants who had moved from Europe as well. Most of these consultants had moved due to the economic recession; change of government regulations relating to the USA?s work VISA (also known as H1B VISA) program; and unfavorable green-card process for professionals from certain countries including those from India. There has been a very large-scale movement of highly experienced IT and SAP consultants from USA into Canada. This is a great opportunity for the friendlier Canada Inc. to build its share of competency in the high revenue market that was traditionally dominated by the US corporates. Interestingly, expats constitute a high proportion of around 30 percent of America?s IT and consulting work force.

Growing Canadian Competency in SAP Consulting Business

It has to be noted that currently, the domestic consumption of SAP consulting services within Canada is estimated to be less than 10 percent of that in the USA when calculated in terms of revenue. This number also coincides with the differences in the size of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the populations between the two countries. What is different is the dis-proportionate size of the currently growing work-force of Canada?s experienced SAP consultants. Most of these consultants have up to a decade of past experience of working in the USA.

It has to be also noted that due to lack of demand within Canada, these consultants compete with the USA-based consultants for the work that has to be delivered across the border. These consultants often travel on weekly basis, while their clients pay their expenses. Though considering the poor state of economy at the moment, USA based consumers have over-capacity. Situation will change once the economy rebounds to its factual impetus.

Going forward, the USA-based SAP consultants who were already combating a growing competition from their counterparts from India; will now have to also compete with their colleagues from the neighborhood. This competition is fierce because the competitors usually have good communication skills, better training, higher competency, and past experience of delivering consulting services to the US marketplace. It?s a challenge for the SAP Resource Managers to accommodate this relatively newer but highly competent influence from the neighboring country.

Incentives from the friendlier Canadian Government

In addition to a very friendly immigration policy, the government of Canada also has a scheme in place to fund up to CAD 28,000 a year** for skill-based training to further a second career for its already trained professionals. This funding however, does not apply to new immigrants immediately after their arrival. It is selectively available to people with experience in Canadian workforce to enhance a second career. The funding also envelopes certification courses on the latest dimensional products in SAP. Therefore, many consultants take advantage of this offering to become more competitive after completing their consulting engagements and before going back to hunt for newer projects; whereas, the USA based SAP consultants do not get a similar incentive from their government.

Story of a Canadian Opportunity for H1B Professional from USA

It has to be noted that USA has attracted the top two percent of skilled performers from countries like India and China under its work VISA scheme during the last decade. The years preceding 2000 had witnessed unprecedented growth in the information technology (IT) sector. As a result, ?flight-loads? of Indian IT professionals started moving to the USA to work on projects. But unexpectedly, the IT industry fell so drastically after the 2001 economic recession that triggered a very high unemployment rate.  A huge portion of the consultants from Asian countries then obtained Canadian Permanent Residency (PR) instead of returning to their home countries.

The friendly neighbor sensed an opportunity to attract this pool of talent as selective immigrants to the country. Canada has a progressive immigration policy that allows H1B IT professionals from the USA to apply for skill-based immigration. And since the queue was not so long in 2001, the petitions were approved within three months. The very professionals who had arrived in ?flight-loads? into the USA then moved in ?Car-loads? into Canada. These professionals were law abiding, highly educated, competitive, and highly motivated individuals. These professionals not only supported the domestic IT competency of Canada Inc., but also engineered the country?s capability to bid for a much higher market share in USA?s high revenue IT market.

The tiger had already tasted blood. In the succeeding years, multiple provinces in Canada have come up with immigration programs that target USA-based H1B professionals in particular. In the year 2006, US President George W. Bush?s administration introduced alterations in the immigration system that prolonged the green-card processing time by up to 9 years for some professionals including those from India. The administration had introduced a quota system. So these professionals found it more attractive to move to Canada instead. The situation has aggravated further during the 2008 economic recession when Canada witnessed an even further influx of H1B IT professionals who now have much more experience and competency in the US IT and trade practices.

Conclusion

Canada is well positioned on its path to be able to sell higher values of Management and IT consulting services to the US corporates due to its selective acquisition of trained immigrants. This trend is in-line with the fact that the country has one of the highest number of nuclear power plants in the world and sells power, among other commodities to the USA. This time, the difference is that the professional services will be delivered by experts who were actually identified and trained by the USA based corporations themselves. The residual impact will be on GDP and the sectors that are already hit by the recession such as the banking and the housing markets because some of these highly paid practitioners will move their assets across the border.

 

 

*Mandeep S. Oberoi works as Director & Principal Consultant with Dexteyra Consulting Group Inc. He has also worked with large consulting firms such as Hewlett-Packard Canada’s Business Consulting Group and Capgemini USA LLC, among others. Some of his key past clients include Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Bank of Canada, MolsonCoors Brewing Company UK, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Ministry of Works - Government of Trinidad & Tobago, and Bacardi Rum, among others. He specializes in designing SAP Best Practices based banking, finance, public sector management, and supply chain solutions. Mr. Oberoi has worked on projects across North America, Caribbean, Europe, and Asia Pacific. He was awarded a Medallion by the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) in 2001.

 

**Source: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/tcu/secondcareer/SecondCareerBrochureEn.pdf 

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