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I'm underpaid relative to my responsibilities (part 1)

I am a full time employee with 2 years experience in SAP SCM (primarily APO DP). I am a team leader for a worldwide APO DP implementation (to support around 100 users) within a multinational organization, but feel my current salary is too low for this responsibility. Can you advise what the average salary range is for this type of position for full time employees?

I've been waiting four months for a salary or rate question, thanks for sending it in! I'm surprised I haven't gotten more of these types of questions, although perhaps it's for the best, as I suspect you'll find my answers a little frustrating. The problem that you're dealing with is that there really is no "market rate" or "average salary range" for any SAP skills at this time.

The difficulty establishing average SAP salaries is two-fold: one, the market is really in flux right now, and the exact supply and demand ratio for SAP skills is very hard to pinpoint. We know that SAP rates and salaries are declining overall, but that is all we really know. The other problem with establishing market rate is that every end-user has a different budget and pay scale. Obviously, there are IT Salary Surveys that claim to get to the bottom of this - ComputerWorld's annual survey is a good example. But I see at least a $20,000 variation between SAP salaries at different companies, and I'm taking into account cost-of-living adjustments when I say that.

Your situation, of course, is that of a permanent employee with SAP responsibilities. From the very beginning of the R/3 explosion in the United States, one thing has been consistent: Companies have rarely paid SAP professionals what they could get on the open market. When we heard about huge SAP salaries and huge rates, those salaries were being paid by consulting firms, and those rates were being scored by independent consultants. Companies were never willing to pay SAP professionals much more than what they were willing to pay other IT folks, and the reason is obvious: When you pay the new SAP person a bigger salary than the manager who has been paying their dues at your company for the last five years, you've just upset the apple cart of employee morale. For a while, companies made up for this by offering "hot skills" and "project milestone" bonuses, but those incentives are largely a thing of the past in the current economic downturn.

I used to play a game where I tried to guess the salary or rate of any SAP professional who called me. I was usually pretty accurate. When it came to guessing the salaries of full time employees like yourself, I always made my estimate based on my sense of the company's management tier. SAP folks in your situation generally find that their salaries are determined less by years of SAP experience, and more by the level of leadership they have achieved within the company. This makes sense, because companies can justify paying you more when you are in a leadership capacity. Team members make less than team leads, team leads make less than project managers, and so on. Although you could argue that your APO leadership role is more important than other team leads in your company, I'll bet your pay scale is fairly level with others on your same management level - whether or not their skills are as SAP-specific or as mission-critical as yours. Your situation might be different, but that is the general rule.

Now, I don't know enough about your exact situation to offer you very specific suggestions. My best estimate is that other SAP professionals in your situation are making between $85-115,000, including bonuses. Obviously that range is frustratingly vague and can only help you if you are drastically underpaid.

Continued in Part 2

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