University serves up in-house software

Students studying enterprise resource planning (ERP) software systems at Nova Scotia’s St. Francis Xavier University will get more “hands-on” training under a new initiative.

As part of its SAP University Alliances program, SAP Canada Inc. recently selected the Antigonish, N.S. school as its second University Competency Centre (UCC) in Canada. SAP Canada will provide the university full access to the mySAP ERP software suite of applications for academic use.

Under the arrangement, St. Francis Xavier will host its own SAP technical platform and provide hosting services for other Canadian schools including Ryerson University and the University of New Brunswick Saint John. The other UCC is located at Edmonton-based Grant MacEwan College.

“There is a huge demand for ERP professionals, particularly in the IT job market,” according to Ram Palanisamy, chair of the Department of Information Systems, Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems at St. Francis Xavier.

In the real world, graduates need as much ERP and business knowledge as they can get, Palanisamy said. There is specifically a demand for SAP professionals — in today’s competitive and return on investment-driven IT market, students need any extra boost they can get, Palanisamy said.

Many students are dawn by St. Francis Xavier’s information systems BIS program, which features a specific ERP stream, Palanisamy said, adding that the school’s ERP program stream handles 30 students each year. A long-time SAP customer itself, the school says the SAP technology is a hands-on complement to a conceptual and hands-on technology agnostic curricula-including ERP implementation, business processes, computer science and engineering management, Palanisamy said.

The program is designed to give students the skills they need to enter the business world with a better IT understanding of concepts such as business integration and supply chain management, Palanisamy said. He added that hosting services for other schools will generate approximately $12,000 annually for St. Francis Xavier, along with attracting both prestige and more students to the school.

SAP Canada hopes to add other Canadian schools to the 25 member campuses already involved, according to Doug Peebles, Toronto-based manager of the SAP University Alliances program. It’s about economies of scales as member schools don’t have to maintain internal infrastructure, he added.

The University Alliances program is a continuing global SAP initiative, Peebles said. Currently there are 16 UCCs established worldwide with 400 members in total.

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