Strengthening skills for the digital future

Peter Haried, chair Information Systems Department

Peter Haried, chair Information Systems Department

Department adapts to the ever-changing IS field, incorporating hands-on experience with a popular enterprise business software

Employers are looking for a future workforce with knowledge and skills to compete in a digital economy. More specifically, many want employees with hands-on experience working with enterprise business software and analytics that support the company from business operations to customer relations.

UWL’s Information Systems Department recently revamped its curriculum to incorporate a stronger focus on these in-demand skills, specifically offering students hands-on software experience with SAP, a market leader in enterprise business applications software with more than 335,000 customers in more than 180 countries.

Every CBA student will have experience with the software by fall 2019 when it is used in IS-220. The required CBA course exposes students to the building blocks of computer-based information systems.

“It is getting harder and harder to find a major or even a career that is not going to use technology in one way or another,” says Peter Haried, chair of the Information Systems Department. “Gaining hands-on experience with SAP gives our students a head start compared to their peers by seeing firsthand how technology and, specifically SAP, impacts accounting, supply chain, marketing, management and financial transactions.”

To obtain access to the SAP software application and offer UWL faculty the materials and training to teach SAP, the IS Department joined the SAP University Alliance. The global program enables more than 3,500 educational institutions in over 113 countries to integrate the latest SAP technologies into teaching.

The move came after review of IS curriculum at peer universities, faculty interactions at IS conferences and through consultation with employers who actively recruit and hire CBA students full-time and in internships.

Starting last fall 2018, students could start coursework using SAP though a two-course sequence, IS-320 and IS-360. The department will also integrate SAP in IS-220, a required course, in fall 2019.

In IS-320, students gain advanced SAP knowledge and experience, which they can use to earn globally-recognized SAP certifications that strengthen their career prospects. Students are also able to qualify for the SAP Student Recognition Award by completing coursework approved through the SAP University Alliance. This award certifies a student’s significant hands-on experience with SAP, thus improving their competitive advantage in the job market.

Since the curriculum revision, the department has received positive feedback from employers and within the IS department, including students who say the course helped prepare them to hit the ground running in internships, says Haried.

The SAP application allows students to see how all business areas interact, integrate and work together. They can better understand the big picture of business and how technology supports all areas of business.

“The largest benefit so far has been seeing the excitement by students in experiencing how business transactions flow through the SAP application,” says Haried.