Hello friends, welcome to my blog, "ERP is Easy.com" – This is a place to share content, tips and tricks about SAP. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
A client is a separate entity within an SAP system that contains its own master data, transactional data and user profiles.
Master data or business data: Data that is required by the business to perform business operations. E.g. Information about customers, employees, products, etc.
Transactional data: Data that is created and changed on a day-to-day basis due to business operations is known as transactional data. E.g. purchase orders, sales orders, service requests, etc.
User master data: User data of a particular user in an SAP system. E.g. Name, E-mail, Language as well as parameters, authorisation and user groups
All these data are client-specific, meaning the data within a particular client can be read or written only by the assigned client and is protected from other clients.
But there are also client-independent or cross-client changes possible. For E.g. If the source code of the SAP system is changed or a new report is created, that will be client independent which means those changes will affect all clients in that particular SAP system.
Number ranges of SAP clients:
SAP client number ranges from 000 to 999. So, technically you can create up to 1000 clients in any SAP system.
When an SAP system is installed, clients 000 and 001 are automatically created as part of the installation process. Client 000 is known as the golden client or master client. Client 001 is a copy of the golden client 000. Customers usually use client 001 to make further copies to satisfy their requirements. For E.g. A copy of client 001 is made and a new client can be called 100 which can act as a development client where configuration and workbench changes are made.
Multiple clients can be created based on technical and business requirements. For E.g. Development client (to create and test new developments and customizations), the Testing client (to perform testing), the Training client (to offer training to end users), etc.
Changes that are created in one client can be transported to another client within the same SAP system or to another client in a different SAP system. A change can be either a configuration change (client-dependent) or a workbench change (cross-client).
Changes are transported using a virtual container called “Transports”. It is one of the most commonly used terms in the SAP ecosystem.
Depending on the project, requirements, size and complexity of the organisation, hundreds or even thousands of transports are moved between clients and SAP systems daily. A system called Change & Transport System (CTS) is used to manage transports
I will write another blog to explain the SAP change management process in detail.
Cloning a client to create a new one is called client copy. A client copy copies user master data, application data (also called master data) and client-specific customizing data across to the new client. There are three ways to perform a client copy.
local client copy – copy a client inside the same SAP system
Remote client copy – copy a client to a different SAP system
Client export/import – This is also to copy a client to a different SAP system. The difference between this and remote client copy is that in the remote client copy method, RFC (Remote Function Call) is used to perform the client copy from the source to the target system. Whereas in the client export/import method, the source client is first exported using a transport and the transport is imported into the target SAP system.
SAP Transactions used for client administration:
SCC1 – Client copy using a transport request
SCC3 – Transaction code SCC3 can be used to monitor the process of client copy that is running in the background or check the log of the front-end process.
SCC4 – Transaction that is used to either allow or disallow modifications to happen in a client
SCC5 – This transaction is used to delete a client
SCC7 – Used to perform post-processing after a new client has been imported into the target system
SCC8 – Used to perform client export
SCC9 – Used for a remote client copy
SCCL – Used for a local client copy
Thank you for reading my blog. Hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, please leave a comment on my YouTube video and I will get back to you.
SAP has been projecting BTP (Business Technology Platform) for a while now and has been trying to turn it into a leader in the PaaS space. As a result, a lot of organisations globally have adopted SAP BTP and the adoption rate continues to grow especially among the already existing SAP customers.
As you might know, SAP BTP offers different types of services. One of the most commonly used services in BTP is application development. And that is where SAP Cloud Foundry, SAP Neo and SAP Kyma come into the picture.
In this blog, we are going to discuss what is SAP Cloud Foundry, SAP Neo and SAP Kyma and the difference between them.
If you are interested in learning about the basics of SAP BTP, then please check out my previous blog here.
Getting back to the topic, firstly, what is SAP Cloud Foundry?
Cloud Foundry is an open-source platform that is governed by Cloud Foundry Foundation. It is not proprietary to SAP; anyone can download it and use it for free in their own infrastructure. SAP BTP also provides Cloud Foundry as a service and to use it will cost you money because it is hosted on SAP BTP and you need to pay for the service provided by SAP. Cloud Foundry is offered as a service by so many other cloud providers as well like Amazon Web Services, MS Azure, GCP, IBM, etc.
So now the question is, what is the purpose of Cloud Foundry? You can use cloud foundry to build, deploy and run applications that are built using different programming languages.
Before Cloud Foundry, if you have to build multiple applications, you need to first install different types of runtimes, code editors, development kits, databases, integrations, authentication, etc. It was complex and developers were spending a lot of time on administration tasks instead of concentrating on developing applications.
But Cloud Foundry offers runtimes, business services, programming languages, libraries and services all in one place. So, the developers can concentrate on coding while the admin tasks are taken care of by the Cloud Foundry.
Cloud Foundry supports different types of programming languages like Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, Python, .NET Core and Staticfile.
It can be hosted on its own internal infrastructure or on cloud infrastructure offered by companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, OpenStack, etc.
Now, in the SAP context, developers can use the Cloud Foundry runtime service in SAP BTP to build new applications or extend functionalities of an existing SAP on-premise or Cloud application. They can use the API library offered by BTP to integrate their applications with SAP and non-SAP applications.
SAP BTP Neo runtime service:
SAP Neo is also a runtime service available in SAP BTP, similar to Cloud Foundry, but was developed by SAP and it is not open source.
Using Neo, developers can create HTML5, Java and SAP HANA extended application services (SAP HANA XS). It doesn’t allow a “bring your own language” offering as Cloud Foundry does and it can only be hosted on SAP infrastructure and not others. The types of programming language one can use in Neo is also limited. Hence when compared, Cloud Foundry is a better runtime environment for developers to build their applications. SAP is also phasing out the Neo environment, so we can safely say the future is Cloud Foundry.
Difference between SAP Cloud Foundry and SAP Neo
SAP Cloud Foundry
Programming languages that are supported
Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, Python, .NET Core and Staticfile.
HTML5, Java and SAP HANA extended application services (SAP HANA XS)
Bring your own programming language.
On-premise or on any cloud infrastructure
Only on SAP infrastructure
What is SAP Kyma?
If we need to talk about Kyma, then first we need to talk about Kubernetes and containers.
So, let’s go backwards and start with the container first.
Traditional deployment era:
Sometime back, when the container concept was not available, businesses used physical servers to run their applications. In a physical server, there’s no mechanism to define the resource boundaries for the apps, which led to problems with resource allocation. For instance, if numerous apps are running on a physical server, there may be times when one application uses up the majority of the resources, which lowers the performance of the other applications. Running each application on a different physical server would be a fix for this. However, due to resource underutilization and the high cost of maintaining numerous physical servers, this could not scale.
Virtualized deployment era:
Later on, virtualization was introduced as a fix. It enables you to utilise the CPU of a single physical server to operate numerous Virtual Machines (VMs). Because the information of one application cannot be freely accessible by another application, virtualization enables applications to be segregated between VMs and offers a level of security.
Applications can be added or changed simply, hardware costs are decreased, and virtualization improves resource usage on physical servers and scalability. A group of physical resources can be displayed as a collection of reusable virtual computers thanks to virtualization.
On top of the virtualized hardware, each VM functions as a complete machine running all of its parts, including its own operating system. So, there was still some level of complexity involved as the applications that are developed on a VM were tied to the operating system the VM is running on.
Then comes the container era. While containers and virtual machines (VMs) are similar, the OS can be shared among the apps thanks to their flexible isolation rules. Containers are therefore seen as lightweight and less complex to run when compared to VMs. Similar to a VM, a container has its own filesystem, the share of CPU, memory, process space, and more. As they are decoupled from the underlying infrastructure, they are portable across clouds and OS distributions.
Containers have become popular because they provide these extra benefits.
What is Kubernetes?
Applications can be bundled and run effectively using containers. You must manage the containers that run the applications in a production environment to prevent downtime. For instance, another container needs to start if one goes down. Wouldn’t it be simpler if software handled this behaviour?
You have a framework to execute distributed systems robustly thanks to Kubernetes. It handles application scaling and failover, offers deployment patterns, and more.
Now back to Kyma. SAP BTP Kyma is a fully managed Kubernetes runtime that is based on an open-source project.
We now know that containers can help build and run applications on any platform. If there are multiple containers, then Kubernetes can help manage those containers to provide scalability and failover services.
But what if the applications inside the containers need to communicate with other applications in the outside world? That is where Kyma comes into the picture. It is an extra integration tissue on top of the Kubernetes that helps us do both, expose the APIs from the containers so that external applications can integrate and as well as allows the applications inside the containers to consume APIs and events from other applications.
On top of facilitating integration, It also provides additional services like security, monitoring, and tracing.
You build software applications using either Cloud Foundry or SAP Neo
The applications you built can be placed inside a container or multiple containers
Containers are managed by Kubernetes runtime
Kyma provides an additional integration layer on top of Kubernetes that allows your apps inside the containers to integrate with the outside world
Please check out my YouTube channel as well and if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will respond to you.
In this post, we are going to discuss the SAP Business Technology Platform or also known as SAP BTP.
Previously, it used to be called SAP Cloud Platform. As of March 2021, SAP changed its name to SAP BTP.
SAP BTP is a platform that offers a variety of solutions such as database, data warehouse, analytics, integration and programming tools. The customers can make use of this platform to satisfy their business requirements without the complexity of building & maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching these applications.
It is basically a Platform as a Service (PaaS).
Let’s take a quick look at the difference between PaaS, SaaS, IaaS and On-premise.
In Platform as a Service, the applications and data are managed by the user whereas everything else that lies underneath is managed by the service provider.
For example, let’s say that you would like to build your own web application that is integrated with SAP S/4HANA. When you use middleware such as SAP BTP, all you need to do is just write the code to build your application. Other things that are required to build and run your code such as development tools, database, integration APIs, network, user management, server, OS, storage are managed by SAP. The advantage of this model is you can spend your time effectively concentrating on building the application rather than managing the software and hardware that lies underneath.
Some examples of PaaS are SAP BTP, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, OpenShift.
Software as a Service:
When it comes to Software as a Service, everything is managed by the service provider including the application. The user just consumes the functionalities to perform their day-to-day operations.
Examples of SaaS are Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, Salesforce, SAP SuccessFactors, etc.
Infrastructure as a Service:
They are cloud-based services where the user pay as they go for services such as storage, networking and virtualisation but other things such as the OS, middleware, data and application are managed by the user.
Examples of IaaS are Amazon AWS, Rackspace, Google Computing Engine, etc.
In the on-premise model, the user manages everything. The software is installed on a server that is hosted in the same building as the business.
Now let’s a look at what SAP BTP has got to offer.
Database & Data Management
Application Development & Integration
Database & Data Management
As the name implies, this category contains database and data management solutions. As you may know, SAP offers different types of Databases such as SAP HANA, SAP HANA Cloud (cloud version of the HANA DB) and SAP IQ. It also offers solutions to manage master data across the entire organisation.
Analytics is really important to any organisation. Because Analytics is what helps you to get transparency behind what is going on in the organisation. Whether it is finance, procurement, employee information, demand, supply chain etc. all those business-critical KPIs can be hooked on to any of these analytics tools and it will present you with information in a readable way and let you know what exactly is happening in your organisation.
A lot of customers use SAP BTP mainly for the purpose of integration and application development. When it comes to integration, BTP offers pre-built integration libraries and APIs that enable the customers to easily integrate their SAP systems with other SAP systems, as well as with third-party applications.
An extension is nothing but a standalone web application that can integrate with any SAP product to enhance its functionality and serve an end-to-end business process requirement.
Say, for example, my organisation has a requirement for a special tool that is required for recruiting new employees. I can write code and develop that new tool on SAP BTP and integrate it with SAP S/4HANA or SAP SuccessFactors to provide the users with a seamless end-to-end business process execution.
SAP BTP offers tools & services to develop & integrate extension tools with other SAP products.
Intelligent Technologies contain solutions like the Internet of Things, Edge Services, Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, conversational AI and AI Business Services.
Customers can make use of these functionalities and integrate them with their SAP products.
Okay, what are some of the use cases of intelligent technologies?
If you take the Internet of Things, for example, it can be used for a variety of purposes. Like logistics companies can monitor all their trucks and collect data like their speed, braking pattern, how much break does a driver take, what route is economical, what parts of the trucks must be changed and when they must be changed, when must a truck be serviced and so much more.
Robotic process automation technology helps you identify repeatable tasks and enables you to automate them.
Conversational AI technologies are useful for building intelligent chatbots. I mentioned intelligent chatbots because they use Artificial Intelligence technology and hence they are capable of learning and adjusting their responses over a period of time.
Now using BTP, you can subscribe to any of these services instead of building those applications by yourself from scratch.
So are there any free trials available for SAP BTP?
The answer is yes, SAP offers a free tier model with limited access to BTP services. A credit card is required to create a pay-as-you-go account. But the credit card will not be charged. Once you reach the limit of a free tier service plan, you will be notified. At that time, you can choose to update from a free tier to a paid service plan. Only after you update to a paid service plan will you be charged for additional usage. The cost will depend on the type of service you subscribe to.
Hope you got some useful information from this blog. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment here in the blog or on the YouTube video. I try my best to answer all the comments. Thank you.
SuccessFactors is SAP’s cloud-based, HR software. It is offered on a SaaS (Software as a service) model, which means the customers pay a subscription fee to gain access to the software that is hosted by SAP.
It was founded by Lars Dalgaard in 2001 and was acquired by SAP in 2011.
SuccessFactors is one of the most commonly used HR software in the world. According to SAP, it is used by more than 12,000 customers in 200+ countries around the world. It has also got more than 191 million users. The reason for its popularity is it offers a rich variety of functionalities for organisations to manage the end-to-end HR business processes of their employees efficiently.
It competes with the likes of Workday, Oracle, Ceridian, Bamboo HR, PeopleStrong, etc.
SuccessFactors can be integrated with other SAP applications like S/4HANA and as well as with third-party applications like Oracle, Salesforce using either SAP BTP (Business Technology Platform) or MuleSoft.
Let’s take a look at the different types of functionalities that are offered by SAP SuccessFactors.
The functionalities are divided into three main categories.
Reporting & Analytics
Modules under core HR are
SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll
Modules under Talent Management are
Performance & Goals
Succession & Development
And there is Reporting & Analytics which is not further divided into sub-categories.
Let’s take a look at the core HR modules in SuccessFactors
SuccessFactors Employee Central – There are some core HR activities that organisations must take care of irrespective of their size. Those activities include things like time & attendance management, document management, employee master data management and HR document management. SuccessFactors employee central offers exactly this.
SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll – This module is used to process payroll for the employees of an organisation. It offers functionalities like automated payroll calculation, proactive payroll information, payroll self-service and automated payroll management.
Let’s take a look at the Talent Management modules
Performance & Goals – This module helps organisations align their strategy and goals, improve employee performance through ongoing coaching and feedback, and recognise top talent. IT offers functionalities like employee goal management, continuous performance management, 360-degree feedback & evaluations and guided action planning.
Compensation Management – Managing compensations for employees can be complex, especially for organisations with hundreds of thousands of employees. This module in SuccessFactors helps companies to build & manage strategic compensation programmes that align with the needs of their employees, the company and as per their budget. It offers functionalities like guided compensation planning, continuous rewards and personalised recognition programmes.
Recruiting – Identifying the right talent is really important for any organisation. Nowadays, organisations are adopting modern recruiting techniques like using social media platforms, virtual reality communications, applicant tracking systems, etc. SuccessFactors recruiting module helps organisations to use these types of modern ways to recruit top talents. It included functionalities like engaging candidate experiences, global & diverse talent sourcing, candidate relationship management and comprehensive applications management.
Onboarding – Once the employees are recruited, organisations require a robust onboarding process to onboard them seamlessly. Not just onboarding but SuccessFactors Onboarding module offers functionalities for offboarding, cross-boarding and rehire programs as well.
Learning – The learning module in SuccessFactors provides innovative capabilities that can help organisations create a culture of continuous learning with a corporate learning management system (LMS). It offers a modern and engaging learning experience, extended enterprise learning and automated compliance training capabilities.
Succession & Development – This module can help organisations develop the talent they need to achieve business goals while providing visibility and planning capabilities to support their future growth. It offers capabilities like skills-based development planning, skills & leadership development, talent reviews & collaboration tools.
Reporting & Analytics
Analytics is very important to clearly understand the hidden metrics and insights within the data. The analytics solution within SAP SuccessFactors helps organisations to improve business decisions with trusted intelligence. Using integrated data from multiple business systems, they can investigate trends in hiring, diversity, turnover, and performance, see how investments in people impact their business results, and share trends and insights with compelling visualisations.
SAP SuccessFactors offers three different types of analytics solutions. They are
Workforce planning and
How can you learn SAP SuccessFactors?
SAP SuccessFactors Community – This is a one-stop shop for SAP SuccessFactors. Here you can learn about different modules, functionalities, upcoming capabilities, release readiness, events, webinars, tutorials, blogs and opportunities to collaborate with other customers and influencers. You will require an “S” user-id to log in to the SuccessFactors community. https://community.successfactors.com/
OpenSAP courses – OpenSAP is a free platform owned by SAP. They offer free courses for everyone about various SAP products and business processes including SuccessFactors. Anyone can register for free and start consuming the courses. https://open.sap.com/courses?q=successfactors
What type of jobs can you get once you learn SuccessFactors?
Just like a lot of SAP applications, there are two types of jobs when it comes to SuccessFactors.
End–user – An end-user is someone who uses the SuccessFactors application to perform their day-to-day work. For example, roles like HR recruiters, HR administrators, payroll admins, managers, employees all use SuccessFactors for different purposes. So you can become an HR consultant by learning HR business processes and learning SuccessFactors along with that will help you get a job in a company that uses SAP SuccessFactors for their HR operations.
SuccessFactors consultant – When organisations receive access to a brand new SuccessFactors system, they must be configured as per the organisation’s requirement. Configuration includes business flow setup, importing master data, rules setup, parameters setup and setting up of integration between SuccessFactors and other systems. A SuccessFactors consultant will perform these types of activities.
Hope you got some value out of this blog. If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email or leave a comment on the YouTube video. I will try my best to get back to you.
When it comes to my blog and the YouTube channel, the majority of my audience are students. They are either early in the process of learning SAP or have basic knowledge about SAP and are looking to expand on it.
Either way, I receive a lot of questions about some of the basic aspects of SAP. So I thought I will write a blog about it.
Whenever I want to teach someone about SAP, I start with the below five aspects which I consider to be important and at the same time covers pretty much all the basics that will help them kickstart their SAP career.
Overview of SAP
Products offered by SAP
Types of jobs in SAP
How can you learn SAP
Free trials offered by SAP
Let’s get started with an overview of SAP
SAP stands for Systems, Applications & Products in data processing
It is the third-biggest software company in the world after Microsoft and Oracle (please don’t confuse software companies with technology companies)
It was founded by five ex-IBM employees. They were working on an enterprise resource planning software project only to be told by IBM that it’s no longer required. So, rather than abandoning the project, they decided to leave IBM and start a company on their own called S.A.P.
Christian Klein is the CEO and member of the Executive Board of SAP
As of 2020, SAP’s revenue was 27 Billion Euros
They employ 100,000 people in more than 130 countries including 20 SAP Labs, which are development centres
SAP serves 440,000 customers in 180 countries around the world and has a market share of 22% of the global ERP market, while Oracle, which is their closest rival in this space has a market share of 11%.
Some of the stats about SAP helps us to realise how crucial they are when it comes to running big organisations around the world. SAP claims, 77% of all business transactions worldwide touch an SAP system. For example, SAP’s customers produce 78% of the world’s food products and 82% of the world’s medical devices. Some of the world’s biggest and successful organisations such as Microsoft, Apple, Walmart, Nestle, Coca-Cola, DHL, Airbus, BMW, Reliance, and many such huge conglomerates run SAP to perform their day to day operations.
Now let’s move on to the type of products that are offered by SAP
SAP offers so many different types of products. Some of them are developed by themselves over the years and some of them were acquired from other companies.
I am not going to talk about each and every product in this blog as it is impossible to do so but let’s take a look at the five most commonly used business processes by an organisation and what type of SAP products are available to cover those five business process.
ERP & Finance – It covers all the required software to run an enterprise.
I have made a video about S/4HANA on my YouTube channel before if you are interested in learning more about it
CRM & Customer Experience – This category consists of software that can be used to provide support and manage customer experience
Customer data cloud
All the above-mentioned products fall into the category called SAP C4HANA. I have made a video about it on my YouTube channel as well if you are interested in learning more about C4HANA
The third business process is spend management – Spend management is basically about managing all the expenses of a company. A company spends money on various things and SAP offers different types of products or functionalities that can be used to manage these various aspects where a company spends its money on.
Souricing & contracts
Invoices & payments
External workforce & services
Travel & expenses
The fourth business process is Supply Chain Management or SCM in short. I have previously made a video about SCM. It is one of the most famous videos on my YouTube channel. It has got some great feedback so check it out if you are interested in learning more about SAP SCM. It basically contains products that help manage the end to end supply chain of an organisation
Supply chain planning
Supply chain logistics
Product lifecycle management
Enterprise asset management
Extended warehouse management
The fifth business process is Human Capital Management. It is all about managing employee operations, enabling and improving them.
Employee experience management
HR & Payroll
HR analytics and workforce planning
These are the five main business processes and the products associated with them that are widely used by organisations.
On top of these products, another important category of products we should remember is the Business Technology Platform.
It is the glue that enables the integration between all these multiple products and offers a seamless end-to-end business operation for the organisations.
Database & data management
Application development & integration
Types of jobs SAP jobs
There are different types of roles available in the SAP ecosystems. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common ones.
End-user – An end-user is someone who specialises in a particular business process area like finance, procurement, sales, marketing and uses the SAP software on a day-to-day basis to perform their day job. For example, you could be a finance officer in a company. Your responsibilities in the job would include things like processing invoices, preparing balance sheets, managing records & receipts, reconciling daily, monthly and yearly transactions and much more. In order to perform these activities, as an end-user, you will use SAP’s ECC or S/4HANA product. More specifically, you will be using the FICO module within SAP ECC or the S/4HANA system. Being an end-user is a great way to learn SAP. Especially if you are just starting out your career.
Functional consultant – A functional consultant is someone who configures the SAP system as per the company’s requirements. All SAP systems must be configured before they can be used productively. Configuring an SAP system involves activities like creating master data, setting up rules and business process flows. Additional activities of a functional consultant would involve writing functional and technical specs, performing testing, providing support and training end-users. If you are already an end-user of an SAP system, becoming a functional consultant can be the next logical step forward.
Technical consultant – A technical consultant is someone who installs, upgrades, integrates, maintain and operate SAP systems from a technical perspective. They are also used to be called Basis consultants. Technical SAP consultants should have sound knowledge of operating systems, databases, networks, servers, and SAP technical settings.
Developer – If you are good at programming then you can become an SAP developer by learning the ABAP programming language. ABAP is SAP’s native programming language in which all SAP’s on-premise systems are developed. SAP also uses a variety of other programming languages like JAVA, HTML5, mobile development languages, using which you can build applications that can be integrated with SAP products on the SAP Business Technology Platform.
Other roles – On top of the above-mentioned roles, there are so many other types of SAP roles available such as testers, test managers, security consultants, business architects, solution architects, project managers, trainers and support personnel.
The type of role you choose should depend on the type of education/skills/experience you already possess or planning to pursue.
Talking about training, now let’s take a look at the various ways through which you can learn SAP.
How can you learn SAP?
One thing a lot of people ask is how to learn SAP or what type of SAP course should I do?
I would start with a typical answer of “It depends”. It frustrates a lot of people, but to be honest, SAP is a vast subject. It contains hundreds of different types of products and thousands of submodules within them. It is really hard to suggest just one course or product in SAP that you should learn.
My recommendation is always to ask yourself the question of what exactly is your interest? Are you good at Finance, or do you like supply chain management, or do you like marketing, sales or are you a technical person who likes to work with networks, servers and databases?
Or are you someone who got no idea what you actually like? Then you got some research to do in order to understand what you might be actually interested in before pursuing that area.
Once you have decided on your area, you can use the below-mentioned resources to start learning.
Open SAP courses – open.sap.com is a free online academy established by SAP. They conduct online tutorials on various topics related to SAP products and business processes. Their courses are designed in a way to suit everyone from a beginner to an experienced professional. You also get an opportunity to take part in an online exam and receive a certificate once you pass it.
SAP.com – Now this might look pretty straight forward but a lot of people are not aware that SAP’s website has got a lot of information about each and every product they offer. The following link contains a list of all SAP products arranged in alphabetical order. https://www.sap.com/products-a-z.html Click on the product that you are interested in and you will find information like key benefits, capabilities and that particular product’s brochure.
SAP Help Portal – SAP Help Portal is the place where you can find product documentation, learning journeys and much more. Product documentation is free and can be accessed by anyone but in order to consume the learning journeys, you will require a learning hub subscription. I have provided more info about the Learning Hub in the below section.
SAP Communities – As the name implies, it is an online community for all topics related to SAP. It has more than 3 Million users. They have posted more than a hundred and thirty thousand blogs and the community has collectively answered more than one million questions. On top of this, it contains webinars, tutorials and invitations for upcoming SAP events. It is free for anyone to register.
YouTube videos & Blogs – There are plenty of YouTube channels and blogs that you can make use of to learn about SAP and its products. SAP themselves have got some YouTube channels where they make content specifically for students. The channel names are SAP, SAP TV, SAP Technology, SAP Developers, SAP HANA Academy, Service & Support SAP, SAP Ariba, SAP FieldGlass and many more. On top of this, of course, there are so many other YouTube channels and blogs created by individuals like me who provide learning content. These are all free and I always recommend students to start learning using freely available content first before paying money for any type of course or tutorials.
SAP Learning Hub – SAP Learning Hub offers online learning content that can be used to prepare for SAP certification exams. The learning journeys are tailored specifically to your role and learning goals, so it is suitable for everyone irrespective of whether you are a student or an experienced professional. As I mentioned before, you need to subscribe to one of the learning hub editions in order to access it. The different types of editions are discovery edition which is free for 14days, professional edition, solution edition, business edition and student edition.
SAP Training & Certification Shop – This is the SAP official training and certification centre. SAP offers training and certification exams both online and in person. SAP official training and certifications have got a great reputation worldwide. My recommended path is to learn as much as you can using the freely availably resources first. Choose an area of SAP where you would like to further pursue. Then subscribe to one of the learning hub subscriptions to enrol in a proper SAP course before doing the certification in that chosen area.
SAP Books – There are hundreds of books about SAP that are published by both SAP themselves and as well as reputed consultants/subject matter experts around the world. Once again, before purchasing any book, choose an area you would like to concentrate in, then learn as much as possible in that area using the freely available resources before purchasing any books. SAP also has got an official publication partner called SAP Press. It contains a variety of books starting from the introduction to deep diving into many of the complex SAP topics.
Finally, free SAP trials
Theoretical learning is good but there is no replacement for practical experience. Especially when you are a student and looking to get some hands-on experience. When you register for any SAP course using the above-mentioned SAP training and certification shop, you will receive free access to the respective SAP software that you are learning about.
Additionally, SAP offers free trials for pretty much all of their software. For some, they offer a 14-day trial and for some, they offer a three month trial period. If it is on-premise software, you can download and install it on a small server or a powerful laptop/desktop. If it is a cloud-based software like Ariba, SuccessFactors, then you can just access them using your internet browser.
You can learn more about SAP free trials by clicking the link here
Hopefully, this gives you enough information about some of the most important elements when it comes to getting started with SAP.
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below.
(Please note, this blog post is intended for students or someone who is looking to take their first step in the SAP SCM world)
I made a YouTube video about SAP SCM in February 2021. It received a lot of comments and most of them were seeking guidance about what training courses they should choose, where to find them, how much would they cost and whether there are any free options available, etc.
I am hoping to address these questions in this blog. I have also made a video about it which you can check out below.
SAP Supply Chain Management end-to-end business process
To start with, there is one common misconception about SAP SCM, where people assume it as one single product.
Supply Chain Management, in general, itself is a vast subject that contains multiple business process steps and complex scenarios. The steps that are involved in supply chain management can be described below
In the YouTube video, I have provided a real-world example and how these process steps can be mapped to different stages of the example.
Now back to the process steps, SAP offers multiple products that can be associated with every one of the steps in end-to-end supply chain management.
While it is important to learn the end-to-end business process of supply chain management on a high level, it is impossible for anyone to learn all the SAP products that come under the SCM category, let alone become an expert in all of them.
So the generic advice is to get a high-level overview of the end-to-end SCM business processes. Then choose a particular process step that you might be interested in, and learn the SAP product that is associated with that particular process step. This would be a good learning strategy to take the first step into the ever-complex world of SCM.
SAP SCM learning pathway
Learn the basics using the freely available resources – e.g. YouTube videos, blogs, online tutorials, articles and probably books that are not very expensive.
Choose a particular category or process step you might be interested in – e.g. Procurement, Extended Warehouse Management, Transport Management, etc.
Invest in a good SAP course – Enroll in an SAP course related to the category you chose in the previous step
Get certified – Take an exam and get SAP certified
Look for internships/graduate positions/fresher roles – There are tonnes of logistics and supply chain management companies in the world that uses SAP software to perform their operations. Apply for an entry level role or reach out to people in those companies to enquire about internships. Once you get the foot in the door, it will be easy to learn further and advance your career.
Gain experience, learn more, repeat
This might sound too simplistic but this is exactly how I started my career 10 years back.
Now, what are some of the resources both free and paid ones that are offered by SAP that you can use for learning purposes?
Free online courses that are offered directly by SAP
If you have been involved in the SAP ecosystem, then there is a good chance that you might have already come across one of their most famous products called the SAP Solution Manager. It is an Application Lifecycle Management tool that can be used to manage the technical operations of an organisation’s SAP landscape. Not just technical aspects, but It has also got some functionalities that can be used to monitor and improve business processes. Primarily it is designed to manage SAP applications but non-SAP applications can be managed using Solution Manager up to a certain level as well.
Customers do not have to purchase licenses for Solution Manager. The usage rights for Solution Manager is included within their SAP support contract. So, as far as a customer is subscribed to SAP support, they can use Solution Manager. But the type of functionalities they can use within the Solution Manager might vary depending on the type of support a customer has got. If you would like to learn more about what you can use and not use, please click here.
Once, SAP Solution Manager was the second most installed SAP product in the world after SAP ECC, but at the same time, the utilisation rate of the product has always been less than what SAP has hoped for. There are few reasons for that which we will discuss further in the blog.
I am not going to convince you if the Solution Manager is a good or bad tool. The intention of this blog is to provide you with as much information as possible so that you can make up your own mind.
SAP Solution Manager has been there for a while now. It was first introduced in 2001 as Solution Manager 2.1. Since then, the versions have evolved to 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.0, 7.0, 7.1 and the latest version is called Solution Manager 7.2.
Initially, it was only able to perform some basic system monitoring functions. But the latest Solution Manager 7.2 has come a long way since then and can run on the HANA database, uses FIORI, contains advanced technical and business improvement functionalities.
A lot of customers use Solution Manager for its core purpose only. Which is to send data about their SAP landscape back to SAP. The below diagram explains that process.
When SAP applications are connected to Solution Manager, it collects different types of information about the systems like license consumption, business process KPI’s, usage data, technical performance data, information about integration, database growth, custom code, security, ABAP dumps and much more.
That information is then sent to SAP which categorises them into individual customer profiles. The data in the customer profile are linked to a particular customer with the help of their “S” user-id. So when a customer uses SAP’s support tools like Early Watch Alert Workspace or Maintenance Planner, the data that is stored under their customer profile is automatically retrieved.
The is the core functionality of Solution Manager. Without this, customers won’t be able to send information about their SAP systems to SAP and won’t be able to use tools like Maintenance Planner. Which in turn will stop them from performing a support pack, enhancement pack, version or release upgrade of their SAP system.
Apart from the core functionality, Solution Manager has got plenty of other cool features.
Applications Operations contains functionalities such as System Monitoring, Integration Monitoring, User Monitoring, Root Cause Analytics, Exception Management, Analytics and Dashboards.
Basically, they provide functionalities that can be used to monitor, operate and improve technical aspects of SAP systems.
Business Process Operations:
It contains tools like Business Process Monitoring, Business Process Improvement, Data Consistency Management and Job Scheduling, that can help you monitor and improve core business processes across your SAP systems.
Business Process Monitoring – The business process and interface monitoring is used for the central automatic monitoring of a company’s core business processes. According to the business requirements, critical situations in the business process execution are identified and automatically alerted.
Business Process Improvement – Allows customers to monitor business process KPI’s and provides recommendations on how to improve them.
Data Consistency Management – Data consistency management ensures correct and up-to-date data at all times. As business decisions are based on this data, data inconsistencies can lead to increased costs, and business processes that include inconsistent data can lead to downtime of your solution until the root cause is identified and the data is corrected. You can protect your daily business operations by preventing and detecting data inconsistencies, as early as possible, using defined error handling procedures.
Job Scheduling – Job scheduling management manages your background operations centrally. It comprises several applications to establish standardized, formal processes in order to support the management of centralized end-to-end solution-wide background operations. It can also be integrated with external scheduling tools.
Data Volume Management (DVM):
DVM functionality in Solution Manager provides information on the size of the database and individual tables of an SAP system. It provides recommendations on archiving and deletion of unwanted data from your database.
Change Control Management:
Change Control Management or also known as ChaRM, helps controls changes in your system systems in a comprehensive workflow. In technical terms, changes are basically moved from one SAP system to the other in a virtual container called ‘Transport‘. ChaRM functionality in Solution Manager helps you manage the creation and movement of those ‘Transports’ among multiple SAP systems in a controlled way so that they do not disrupt or overwrite any already existing functionalities.
Change Control Management component consists of the following capabilities: Change and Transport System, Enhanced Change and Transport System, Transport Analytics, Change Diagnostics, Dual Landscape Synchronization (Retrofit), Quality Gate Management, Change Request Management and Release Management.
Custom Code Management:
This functionality helps you manage all the custom codes that exist in SAP systems. A custom code is basically a non-standard program that is created by the customer or a standard program that is altered by the customer in their SAP system. You can use this functionality to monitor and manage the complete lifecycle of custom developments from the requirement to retirement. You can also continually optimize your custom developments, monitor the implementation and track usage and quality.
IT Service Management:
This component offers functionality to deliver IT services like incident management, handling service requests, problem management and change management. With IT Service Management, you can connect to an external help desk, set up service connections, and access SAP Service & Support, If your IT system landscape also contains SAP solutions.
Change Control Management component consists of the following capabilities: IT Service Management, Change Request Management, Interface for the help desk of a third-party provider, Global Service & Support Backbone.
This functionality helps you document and manage your end-to-end SAP business processes. You can store them as documents and as well as define them in a modelling environment using drag and drop virtual boxes. This way, you can manage your business processes in a holistic way: you can describe both business and IT perspectives on processes, applications and system landscapes in one place. So business documentation and system reality are always synchronized.
This component borrows some of the functionalities from SAP’s Project and Portfolio Management (SAP PPM) product. Using functionalities like project time management, resource management, status updates, Project preparation, scoping, scheduling, etc. you can manage any project, whether it is SAP or non-SAP.
SAP Solution Manager provides a comprehensive test suite full of functionalities that can be used to perform end-to-end testing of SAP and non-SAP applications. It has the capabilities to perform both manual and automated testing. You can determine the scope of testing required for cross-system business processes, manage the tests centrally and execute the tests. The test management has the following phases: determining the testing scope, test planning, testing, and transferring the changes to production operation.
Focused Build is an add-on that can be installed on Solution Manager 7.2. It offers standard, out-of-the-box functionalities to manage requirements and software development for large, agile projects. In other words, it offers pre-defined templates which can be used for managing SAP and non-SAP projects.
Just like Focused Build, Focused Insights offer pre-defined, out-of-the-box templates and dashboards. So that customers do not have to spend time and effort building dashboards from scratch.
Advantages of using Solution Manager:
One integrated tool that offers functionalities to perform end-to-end application lifecycle management, from monitoring the technical aspects of the systems, improving business processes, managing projects, managing changes, ITSM, custom code till sending the required information to SAP, it can perform everything.
It does not require additional licenses. The usage rights for SAP Solution Manager is included in the SAP support contract. So, it saves license costs of using multiple third party ALM tools and reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of SAP systems.
It can be used to manage both SAP and non-SAP applications.
It can also be used to manage both cloud and on-premise applications.
Solution Manager 7.2 can run on the HANA database and can be hosted on any of the Hyperscalers like Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, etc.
Solution Manager 7.2 uses FIORI as the front end, thus providing a much better user experience than the previous versions.
Challenges of using Solution Manager:
Implementation effort can be very high. As mentioned previously, SAP Solution Manager contains hundreds of functionalities that enable customers to perform end-to-end application lifecycle management, but that in itself can get complex and cumbersome. Especially when customers try to implement a lot of functionalities in one go.
Maintaining a Solution Manager can be time-consuming. Similar to the implementation efforts, maintaining a Solution Manager to ensure all of its functionalities work optimally might require significant effort and resources. Since it has got a lot of moving parts, dedicated resources are sometimes required to just keep the lights on. Especially if you got a huge SAP landscape.
End-users will require significant training in order to use Solution Manager’s functionalities.
If the Solution Manager is not set up properly, then there is a high chance that it might send incorrect information to SAP’s customer profile, which in turn will cause issues while using SAP’s support tools like Maintenance Planner and Early Watch Alert Workspace.
SAP Solution Manager is a great tool. It contains everything an organisation could ever need to manage their SAP and non-SAP IT applications. But at the same time, it can get complex while trying to implement, maintain and operate its functionalities. So the best strategy to implement Solution Manager for your organisation is to start small. Implement something like Technical Monitoring, which is easy to implement and maintain. Then slowly look into other functionalities based on your organisation’s requirements.
Training the end-users in parallel is vital as well. If the end-users don’t see the advantages, then Solution Manager will always be considered as just an IT tool.
If you like this blog post, please share it with your friends and community who might benefit as well.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email or post it as a comment.
What are the different types of modules available in SAP S/4HANA?
S/4HANA Line of Business products includes Finance, Asset Management, Manufacturing, R & D Engineering, Sales & Distribution, Services, Logistics, Sourcing & Procurement, Supply chain management. More modules are being added continuously. Additionally, it also contains industry solutions and compatibility packs.
What are the different deplyoment options available for S/4HANA?
There are three different types of deployment options available for S/4HANA. They are
On-premise – customers can host the S/4HANA system using their own data centre or on one of the hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, SAP HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) or Alibaba Cloud.
Private Cloud – As part of RISE with SAP, customers will receive one license and one contract for hosting their SAP S/4HANA solution bundled with other solutions like BTP (Business Technology Platform), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) using one of the hyperscalers, Business network starter pack, Business Process Intelligence and much more.
Public Cloud – Customers can also choose to subscribe to the S/4HANA public cloud edition which is offered as Software as a Service (SaaS), hence they do not need to worry about hosting or managing the technical operations of the S/4HANA system.
What are the different implementation scenarios available for S/4HANA?
There are three different types of implementation scenarios available for S/4HANA. They are
System Conversion – The process of converting an existing ECC system into a S/4HANA system is called System Conversion. This procedure facilitates database migration from any classical DB to SAP HANA, migrates ERP data model into S/4HANA data model, replaces old ECC application code with S/4HANA application code, and does not force you to convert SAP GUI transactions into FIORI apps right away.
New Implementation – Implement the S/4HANA system from scratch. This procedure allows businesses to reengineer their business processes to simplify them and also make use of new functionalities available as part of S/4HANA. It facilitates the rapid adoption of new innovations in a standardized manner.
Selective Data Transition – Using this procedure, businesses can consolidate multiple ECC systems into one S/4HANA system. It allows them to perform a selective data migration based on legal entities, such as clients or company codes.
What type of tools does SAP offer that can help me build my business case for S/4HANA implementation?
SAP offers various types of tools and reports that can help customers prepare for their S/4HANA implementation or build a business case.
SAP Pathfinder report – This report analyses the customer’s ECC system and provides three types of information. Firstly, it provides information on how the current business processes are performing when benchmarked against industry peers. Secondly, it tells them about S/4HANA functionalities when compared to the customer’s current usage in their ECC system and finally, it provides information on the FIORI apps that are available which is also based on the current usage in their ECC system.
SAP Process Discovery report – This report helps the customers answer questions like why move to SAP S/4HANA, which new functionlaities in S/4HANA are most relevant for their business, how does S/4HANA support their business goals and what are the current processes that can be automated with the help of S/4HANA.
SAP Transformation Navigator – It is a self-service tool that can be accessed using your ‘S’ user id. Once logged in, it automatically picks up information about your organisation’s SAP landscape and provides product recommendation that can be used to determine your future SAP landscape.
SAP Readiness Check – This is an extensive report that is run on the customer’s ECC system. It provides information about compatability of add-on’s, custom code, inetgrations when moved to S/4HANA. It also provides guidance on sizing, archiving potential, health state of business process KPI’s. important project activities, FIORI roles and apps.
What tools does SAP offer for installing S/4HANA and data migration purposes?
SAP offers a bunch of tools that helps installing S/4HANA and data migration.
Software Provisioning Manager (SWPM) – Software Provisioning Manager offers the execution of many system provisioning tasks and covers a broad range of platforms and products, both on the ABAP and the Java technology. Whether you are going to copy an SAP NetWeaver system, rename an SAP Business Suite system, or install a standalone engine (such as SAP liveCache), you can handle all these tasks with Software Provisioning Manager.
SAP S/4HANA Migration Cockpit – This is a cloud based tool developed by SAP that helps to migrate legacy data into S/4HANA system. It contains standard pre-defined objects which can be used for out of box data migration. It allows customers to enhance the exisiting objects as per their requirement.
SAP S/4HANA Migration Object Modeler (MOM) – The standard objects available as part of the Migration Cockpit doesn’t satisfy all the data migration requirements. Hence SAP offers this other tool called Migration Object Modeler using which customers can can create new source structures, manipulate existing ones, change field mappings, add rules to manipulate data and create totally new objects.
SAP Data Services – Data Services allows you to cleanse, transform and load data into new SAP systems quickly and safely.
SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT) – SLT is an ETL tool that support real-time replication of data from SAP or third-party systems to SAP HANA to run applications and analyse data quickly.
Can S/4HANA run on any database like Oracle or MS SQL Server?
No. S/4HANA runs only on SAP HANA database.
Can you use SAP GUI to access an S/4HANA system?
Yes. Technically, you can use SAP GUI to access a S/4HANA system. But if you would like to use S/4HANA’s advanced functionalities like embedded analytics and Robotic Process Automation, you must use FIORI to access S/4HANA. FIORI also improves user experience by offerings functionalities such as enterprise search, notifications, default values, personalisation and user assistance which does not exist in SAP GUI.
How do i find out what FIORI apps are available for my S/4HANA system?
You can go to the SAP FIORI Apps Reference Library to learn about the FIORI apps that are available for your particular requirements. It is available not just for your S/4HANA system but for all SAP applications.
Alternatively, you can also run a report called FIORI Apps Recommendation Report that uses your current SAP usage information to help identify the most valuable Fiori Apps for your enterprise. This interactive report is available free of charge for all customers on SAP maintenance.
What are the key differences between a S/4HANA on-premise and a S/4HANA public cloud system?
S/4HANA Public Cloud
Infrastructure & maintenance model
S/4HANA on-premise system is installed, maintained and operated by the customer
System infrastructure and operational maintenance are performed by SAP
Speed of innovation
Planning, testing, upgrading and configuration changes within the system are the responsibility of the customer
Quarterly release upgrades are applied to the system automatically. The customer is incharge of testing only.
The on-premise edition can be fully customised as per the customer’s requirements
The cloud edition uses standard out of the box business processes and customization options are limited to a small number of settings.
On-premise edition supports full ERP scope. It can be integrated with SAP’s cloud products like SuccessFactors, Ariba, FieldGlass, Concur, SAC, CX portfolio of solutions etc. using BTP (SAP Business Technology Platform)
Cloud edition supports critical industry solutions and core ERP scenarios. It can also be integrated with other SAP cloud applications.
Can a S/4HANA system be hosted on hyperscalers?
Yes, as of 2020, S/4HANA can be hosted on the following hyperscalers.
Amazon Web Services
Alibaba Cloud Computing
What is the average implementation time for an S/4HANA project?
Implementation times varies on a customer by customer basis as it depends on customer requirements and their digital transformation goals. But according to SAP, on average, S/4HANA system conversion projects take 8 months to implement whereas new implementations take about 11 months.
On average, the system conversion projects are three months faster than the new implementations. The reason being, customers who undertake a system conversion keep their configuration and customizations. A technical conversion of an existing SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA requires low to moderate business process changes and allows the retention of historical data.
Should a S/4HANA system be complemented with other SAP cloud products?
It depends on the type of products a customer uses currently and their requirements for a future product roadmap. Some modules/functionalities that were available in SAP ECC is not available in S/4HANA. For example, S/4HANA doesn’t contain HCM and Payroll functionalities. If a customer is currently using payroll in their ECC system, they may have to consider SAP SuccessFactors for their payroll requirements once they move to S/4HANA.
Is there any S/4HANA trial option available?
Yes, there is a 14-day trial available for S/4HANA Cloud and a 30-day trial available for S/4HANA on-premise. Registration is required and can be done using the following link
Does SAP offer free tutorials and courses for S/4HANA?
SAP Help Learning Journeys – SAP has created free learning journeys about both S/4HANA On-premise and S/4HANA Cloud. It can be accessed using the following link
OpenSAP courses – Offered for free by SAP, OpenSAP delivers innovative learning for everyone with expert-led content. It can be accessed using the following link
SAP Training Shop – Here you can find paid training courses and certification offered directly by SAP. It can be accessed using the following link
Apart from these, there are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos available in the internet.
Until when a particular S/4HANA version is supported by SAP?
Each S/4HANA release is supported by SAP for five years. After that SAP will support the product but a solution for new bugs won’t be provided. SAP will also stop offering new functionalities for a particular release after five years. For example, S/4HANA 1709 is supported until 2022. S/4HANA 1809 is supported until 2023, so on and so forth.
What types of S/4HANA certifications does SAP offer?
Certifications offered directly by SAP are divided into three section. They are as follows.
SAP S/4HANA Applications
Planning, Manufacturing, Execution
SAP S/4HANA Technology
SAP S/4HANA Programming
SAP S/4HANA Administration
SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics
SAP S/4HANA Cloud
More information is available in the following link
What are the advantages of running an ERP system like S/4HANA on an in-memory database like SAP HANA?
There are plenty. I have listed some of them below.
Data model – A modern in-memory database, like SAP HANA, allows all types of data to be stored in a single system, including structured transactions and unstructured data such as voice, video, free-form documents, and emails – all with the same fast access capability.
Faster processing – In-memory databases are faster than legacy databases because they require fewer CPU instructions to retrieve data. Developers can exploit this benefit by adding more function without the accompanying drag on system response. Also, using parallel processing so that multiple subsets (columns) can be processed simultaneously adds even more speed and capacity.
Combination of OLTP and OLAP – Traditional systems store transaction data in a legacy ERP database that is accessed by online transactional processing (OLTP). Then, to get a view for analytics, the data is often moved to a separate database (data warehouse) where online analytical processing (OLAP) tools can be used to analyze large data sets (or Big Data). Modern, in-memory databases can support both OLAP and OLTP, eliminating the need for redundant storage and the delays between data transfers, which in turn eliminates any concerns about completeness or timeliness of the warehouse data.
Reduced storage size – Traditional databases store a large amount of redundant data. For example, the system creates a copy of each row that is updated, and it adds tables of combined data sets that increase space needs and maintenance requirements. In addition to the redundancy avoided for OLAP/OLTP mentioned above, column-oriented databases save changes as they are applied to the database.
Real time insights – A modern, in-memory database, like SAP HANA, has embedded analytics to provide business insight for real-time alerts and operational reporting on live transactional data.
What are the key benefits of SAP S/4HANA?
Again, there are plenty of business benefits for S/4HANA. I have listed some of them below.
Next generation ERP software providing advanced functionalities with in-built technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet of Things.
Embedded analytics and real time insights
Simplified in-memory database
Ease of use
Improved user experience with the help of FIORI
Accessible through mobile
Advantages of a Cloud based application
What is SAP Activate Methodology?
Activate Methodology is the next generation project implementation methodology offered by SAP using which customers and partners can implement SAP solutions, including both on-premise and cloud. It is based on agile methodology, hence involves constant collaboration and working in iterations.
More information about SAP Activate Methodology can be found using this link here
More people have started to shop online in recent years as customers have been spoilt for choices like same-day delivery, click & collect, free shipping, and free returns. They can make purchases using mobile phones and receive customer support via social media channels. As a result, access to customer data is very important for businesses nowadays. The better the data, the easier for businesses to make crucial decisions and provide better customer support to their customers.
This need to compete in a dynamic, increasingly interconnected world has led to the explosive surge the CRM industry has witnessed over the past several years. There are a plethora of CRM products out there in the market today. Out of them, there are big five vendors that dominate the market share, and they are Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Adobe and Microsoft.
If you would like to learn about SAP’s on-premise CRM application, please check out my blog “What is SAP CRM?“
Now let’s chat about SAP’s (mostly) cloud-based, the latest set of CRM solution called SAP C/4HANA. SAP has started calling it Customer Experience Solutions recently.
What is C/4HANA? or SAP Customer Experience Solutions?
SAP C/4HANA, also known as Customer Experience Solutions, consists of various products for marketing, sales, and customer relationship management. In recent years, SAP acquired different companies that offered CRM products like Hybris, Gigya, Callidus Cloud, and Coresystems. It has also got its own CRM products like C4C (Cloud for Customer) and S/4HANA Public Marketing Cloud and they have all gone under all sorts of guises.
SAP believed it is time to form one integrated solution under one new name and that’s how C/4HANA was formed. Launched in 2018, C/4HANA is basically a new branding of existing solutions from SAP’s recently acquired enterprises.
C/4HANA consists of five different cloud applications. They are SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud and SAP Customer Data Cloud. SAP claims their customer experience portfolio covers every step in the process of a customer journey, from the first contact a customer has with a company through to when they choose to buy from it and goes beyond that by providing great customer support with an intention to keep them as a customer for life.
Now let’s take a look at the different products included in the C/4HANA set of solutions.
What is SAP Commerce Cloud?
It is based on what was previously known as SAP Hybris Commerce. It is available as both cloud and on-premise model. It is an omnichannel, e-commerce solution that enables organisations to ease the buying process of their customers by offering the best possible functionalities – from search to sales.
Below are some of the core capabilities of SAP Commerce Cloud:
Omnichannel commerce – SAP Commerce Cloud offers functionalities that have the ability to monitor and track customers throughout multiple touchpoints. Hence providing an omnichannel, responsive storefront that promotes consistency across all devices, tailored promotions and recommendations to increase customer engagement and sales.
Product content management – As you can imagine an e-commerce store may contain multiple products. Commerce cloud offers centralised product content management functionalities through which the users can bulk-edit, bulk-publish, bulk upload multiple products, categorise them based on diverse attributes, saving time and ensuring consistency.
Order management – Customers can order or return products through multiple channels and everything will be monitored and recorded accordingly. This process helps companies to get a single view of inventory, shipping and return that helps them provide a better customer experience.
Industry-specific features – SAP Commerce Cloud provides out-of-the-box, industry-specific add-ons designed to meet the requirements of certain industries. They are called accelerators which are basically a set of business processes specifically designed for companies that belong to a particular industry. Examples of accelerators are the financial service accelerator, the travel accelerator, the citizen engagement accelerator, the telco&media accelerator, etc.
SAP Commerce Cloud also provides website editing tools based on drag&drop functionalities. Users can easily change the look and feel of a website using these tools and don’t require extensive web development knowledge to redesign.
What is SAP Marketing Cloud?
Before the technological era, marketing was not targeted. A product or service was marketed widely to pretty much everyone instead of a specific set of the target audience. As technology has advanced, we have plenty of tools like SAP Marketing Cloud that can help companies perform targeted marketing.
SAP Marketing Cloud is based on what was previously called SAP Hybris Marketing. It is available as both an on-premise and cloud model.
It provides a 360 view of the customer including their intention, motives, and needs. The SAP Marketing Cloud uses this data to constantly update an all-round profile for existing as well as potential customers. This includes data on the past buying behaviour of individual customers, forecasts of possible future buying behaviour as well as focused interests. The solution records how and where the customer moves, which websites and apps they are using, and whether they are more likely to contact a call centre or sales personnel.
Key features of SAP Marketing Cloud:
Dynamic customer profiling – Identify, capture, and enrich customer profiles across all sources in a single view to gain insights into customers’ real-time intents.
Marketing planning & performance – Collaborate across teams and provide transparency into marketing plans, budgets, and performance in real-time.
Audiences, Campaigns, and Journeys – Target and orchestrate cross-channel engagements accurately to deliver the personalised experiences customers expect.
Lead and Account-Based Marketing – Generate, nurture, and convert leads into revenue with close collaboration between sales and marketing.
Marketing Analytics – Understand marketing performance and the drivers to business success.
What is SAP Service Cloud?
Throughout this blog, we have been discussing the effects of technological advancements in e-commerce. Which have enabled the customers to use multiple channels to interact with the brands. Customer satisfaction is important more than ever. Statistics show that customers do not return to purchase with a store or business that does not provide a satisfactory level of customer support. However, keeping an eye on the numerous communication channels and versatile customer information is an ever-increasing challenge for service employees.
Service agents require a highly advanced digital service solution like SAP Service Cloud that can support them in a better way. SAP Service Cloud is made up of multiple SAP solutions like SAP Hybris Cloud for Service, SAP Customer Engagement Centre and Field Management Technology by Core Systems.
SAP Service Cloud is far more than a ticketing system or a call centre application. It provides effective knowledge management as all customer data is available for all departments on one single platform. Service employees work in a networked way and always use up-to-date data. This enables service analyses in real-time that are available on clear dashboards. They provide information on essential KPIs and employees in charge of service to get a comprehensive overview of their team’s performance.
Key features of SAP Service Cloud:
Omnichannel service – It provides an ability for service agents to manage all service inquiries in the same interface for a consistent experience.
Intelligent ticket Management – Service tickets can be created manually or automatically triggered by inbound email messages, chat or SMS. It also includes functionalities like automated ticket categorization and automated solution recommendation, based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies.
Analytics & experience management – Service cloud consists of inbuilt analytics and experience management solution based on Qualtrics. Analytics functionalities offer to track service performance, real-time analytics on agent workload, ticket completion rate, SLA’s and other relevant metrics. Whereas using experience management, you can understand the root cause of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Learning & knowledge management – It offers learning tools that can be used to keep the service agents updated with personal learning and ad hoc training.
Integration – SAP Service Cloud can be seamlessly integrated with other SAP and non-SAP solutions like ERP, S/4HANA, Commerce Cloud, and Marketing cloud to understand multiple touchpoints and improve customer experience.
What is SAP Sales Cloud?
SAP Sales Cloud brings together what was SAP Hybris Cloud for Sales, SAP Subscription Billing, and CallidusCloud to help organizations connect and guide customers throughout their buying journey.
It offers a comprehensive and seamless user experience to help businesses fully engage with their customers in real-time. With the SAP Sales Cloud, businesses can quickly turn valuable insights into effective action. Moreover, the solution can help nurture their customer relationships to give them the best chance of converting their leads.
It has got some advanced features that you expect in a modern sales force automation solution. They are:
Account, Lead and Opportunity Management – It is easy to manage customer accounts using SAP Sales Cloud as it provides each sales representative with a 360 view of the customer and key contacts as well as gives a comprehensive view on engagement history, service history, and transaction history. It also offers functionalities like intelligent scoring & routing to ensure that the best lads are going to the best sales representatives.
Sales Order Management – As the Sales Cloud can integrate with SAP ERP and S/4HANA, the product pricing and inventory information can be accessed in real-time. The solution also has leading capabilities for product configuration, bundling, intelligent product, margin guidance, and compelling proposing generation.
Mobile Experience – SAP Sales Cloud offers a responsive user interface, that enables a consistent user experience across multiple devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Furthermore, the mobile application provides offline support so that the sales representative in the field can engage with customers even when there is no network signal available.
Predictive Analytics & Machine Learning – SAP Sales Cloud helps businesses to establish scoring for leads and opportunities based on various factors. They are automated using predictive analytics and machine learning technologies. It also provides embedded analytics and dashboards which helps sales managers to drill down and get as much information as possible regarding sales, opportunities and a customer.
Collaboration & Productivity – Collaboration with social media channels is possible using SAP Sales Cloud. The in-build features such as feeds, allow sales representatives to get news feeds about the accounts or leads that they are interested in. To make sales representatives’ lives easier, SAP Sales Cloud can integrate with productivity applications like MS Outlook, Google Gmail, and Lotus Notes (not sure who uses Lotus Notes in this day and age 🙂 )
What is SAP Customer Data Cloud?
SAP Customer Data Cloud is the platform that holds customer data that can be accessed by other C/4HANA solutions. This is based on a Customer Identity Management solution offered by Gigya which was acquired by SAP in 2017. It offers functionalities that gather data of both known and unknown visitors to a company’s website. This data is then used to gain insights about a particular customer on the kinds of products and services he/she is interested in, inquired about, or searched for. So that the company can ensure a proactive engagement with the customer and as well as deliver targeted advertisement and promotion campaigns. It also assists companies in ensuring GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, privacy law passed by the European Union).
Let’s take a look at one of the use case example provided by an SAP C/4HANA expert, Andreas Schmitz.
“Let’s say a new customer has just registered on a B2C portal. That’s really easy on the new SAP Customer Data Cloud because if the customer has a social media profile, with just one click they are registered and a central customer profile is created. Every subsequent click on the website, every product the customer looks at, and every newsletter article they read are recorded in their personal history. This results in a dynamic customer profile to which data is added all the time, ultimately creating a “golden record.” In real-time, the Webshop learns which categories, styles, and colours the user has clicked most and personalizes the content for the SAP Commerce page, for instance, when the customers’ logs on the next time, or for marketing newsletters.
The process is very similar in the business-to-business segment. Using the same approach, a bathroom appliance manufacturer would learn the wholesaler’s preferences so that they could offer them the right products and information — everything from flyers to product launch announcements. The SAP Customer Experience portfolio also builds up a record of the wholesaler that can be used to offer the right price and identify up-selling opportunities.”
SAP Customer Data Cloud contains multiple sub-solutions like:
Customer Data Foundation
Customer Identity and Access Management
Partner Lifecycle Management
Consent and Preference Management
These solutions help companies to build trusted and valued relationships with their customers. Essentially turning unknown online website visitors into known, loyal customers.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is C/4HANA one product?
No. SAP C/4HANA is an integrated suite of five different CRM offerings offered both in the Cloud and On-premise model. These are five separate but well-connected solutions under the SAP C/4HANA offering.
Do i have to use all the five solutions available in C/4HANA?
No. Depending on the requirement, customers can use any single solution as standalone or in any combination with other solutions.
What is the main difference between C/4HANA and SAP CRM?
SAP CRM is an on-premise only product that contains functions for sales, customer service, and a little bit of marketing. It concentrates on the call centre-oriented customer service functions which were launched about two decades ago. Whereas C/4HANA contains the latest CRM solutions that are built using advanced technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. It can be deployed in the cloud and when deployed in combination, it can be highly integrated not just from a technical perspective but also from an end to end business process perspective.
Can i host C/4HANA solutions on-premise?
It depends on the solution being used.
SAP Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Customer Data Cloud are available on public cloud only
SAP Commerce Cloud is available on private cloud and can also be deployed on-premise
SAP Marketing Cloud can be deployed as private cloud, public cloud and on-premise
Does C/4HANA require an S/4HANA system to operate?
No. It can be deployed as a standalone solution or can be integrated with SAP ECC as well.
How is C/4HANA different from S/4HANA for Customer Management?
SAP S/4HANA for Customer Management is an add-on to the SAP S/4HANA system as an on-premise solution for Sales, Service, and Interaction Center processes. This is intended for customers with limited CRM with low TCO as no middleware is required for this solution. It does not have marketing or commerce functionality. SAP C/4HANA is SAP’s full CRM cloud offering that integrates both front-end as well as back end functions to provide a 360-degree customer view.
What is the role of Qualtrics in C/4HANA?
Qualtrics is the experience management (XM) platform acquired by SAP. Experience management monitors each interaction of a customer with a company and processes that data to improve future interactions with the customer. SAP Qualtrics Experience Management combines experience data (X-data) and operational data(O-data) and uses AI and machine learning to help close experience gaps and drive improvement in customer experiences. An example in marketing/sales cloud – Survey responses received from customers for an email campaign executed in Sales or Marketing Cloud can be scored using Qualtrics NPS (Net Promoter Score) software to identify hot leads.
If you have made this far, thank you very much. Would appreciate if you can leave a comment and let me know your thoughts 🙂
If you have been following SAP in recent years, you would have definitely come across the word “SAP S/4HANA”. S/4HANA stands for Suite on HANA.
It is SAP’s next-generation ERP software that comprises simplified architecture, lean functionalities, improved user experience and incorporates advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It runs only on the SAP HANA database and can be hosted both, on-premise and in the cloud.
S/4HANA’s architecture is quite complicated and involves a lot of moving parts. There are books that are dedicated specifically to S/4HANA’s architecture. I am not going to take a deep dive but let’s take a quick look at each component and its purpose in this section.
SAP WebDispatcher – WebDispatcher is the software switch that lies between the internet and your SAP system. When an end-user sends an HTTPS request, it first hits the WebDispatcher which then decides whether to accept or reject the request. When it accepts a connection, it balances the load to ensure an even distribution across the servers. SAP Web Dispatcher, therefore, contributes to security and also balances the load in your SAP system.
SAP FIORI – SAP FIORI is the presentation layer for S/4HANA. According to SAP, “SAP FIORI is the design language that brings great user experiences to enterprise applications”. Users can still access the S/4HANA system using SAPGUI but it is mostly reserved for administration and compatibility reasons. Moreover, utilising FIORI apps is a must in order to take full advantage of S/4HANA functionalities such as embedded analytics and robotic process automation.
SAP Gateway – As the name implies, SAP Gateway lets you connect devices, environments and platforms to SAP systems. It uses Open Data Protocol (OData) for communication which means you can use any programming language or model to connect to SAP and non-SAP applications using the Gateway. S/4HANA uses Gateway and OData services to translate business data from the database and present it using FIORI apps.
Application engine – S/4HANA’s application engine contains a simplified data model. There are no more aggregates and indices required, as a result, the number of tables required to perform day to day business operations is reduced. As a result, the memory footprint is drastically reduced as well. S/4HANA can perform both OLAP and OLTP transactions and there is a clear seperation of master data and transactional data.
CDS views – CDS stands for Core Data Services. It is also known as the code pushdown model. This means some of the resource-intensive calculations are pushed down to the database layer, which takes the load out of the application server thus providing the best possible performance. CDS also offers capabilities beyond the traditional data modelling tools, including support for conceptual modelling and relationship definitions, built-in functions, and extensions.
SAP HANA – S/4HANA only runs on the SAP HANA database. It is SAP’s in-memory, column-oriented, relational database management system that combines OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) and OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) into a single system. OLTP is basically about capturing, storing and processing data from transactions whereas OLAP is about analytics, processing complex queries to analyse aggregated historical data from OLTP systems. Storing data in main memory rather than on disk provides faster data access, faster querying and processing hence offering better performance than a non-in-memory database.
Now let’s take a look at the evolution of SAP S/4HANA
SAP ECC – ECC is the predecessor of S/4HANA. It’s latest enhancement pack version is 8 and it can run on multiple databases such as MS SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Max DB and Sybase.
Suite on HANA – In 2011, SAP introduced it’s in-memory database called HANA. From enhancement pack 7, ECC got the capability to run on HANA. Even though technically it was able to run on HANA database, it’s functionalities were not optimised to take advantage of the in-memory capabilities of the HANA database.
Simple Finance – In 2015, SAP introduced Simple Finance and the first version was called 1503. It is an add-on that sits on top of the ECC system. The ECC system must at least have an enhancement pack version of 7 as a requirement for the add-on to be installed. The add-on contained the core finance functionalities of ECC and the code was optimised to take full advantage of the HANA’s in-memory capabilities. But other functionalities in ECC remained the same and were not optimised.
SAP S/4HANA – In November 2015, SAP released the fully optimised Suite for HANA application called S/4HANA. The initial version of 1511 contained only some core functionalities. More functionalities and advanced technologies were added during future releases. By the time of writing this blog, the current version was release 2020. All the modules available in S/4HANA are optimised to take full advantage of in-memory capabilities of HANA database and FIORI user experience.
S/4HANA consists of modules such as Sales & Marketing, Finance, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Professional Services, Asset Management, R&D / Engineering, Sourcing & Procurement and Human Resources.
It offers more than 30 Industry Solutions. Industry Solutions are addon’s that provide a tailored system with industry-specific business processes for an organisation. It includes categories such as Energy & Natural resources, Service Industries, Consumer Industries, Discrete Industries, Financial Services and Public Services. Please note, not all the industry solutions are available in the S/4HANA Essential Edition (public cloud) yet.
Every year, a new release of S/4HANA is released with new functionalities and bug fixes. The releases follow a naming convention of four numbers, where the first two numbers represent the year and the last two numbers represent the month. For example, S/4HANA 1610 was released in October 2016 and S/4HANA 1709 was released in September 2017, so on and so forth. From 2020, a new nomenclature was introduced where the information about the month is not added in the name of the release. For example, the latest S/4HANA release is called S/4HANA 2020 and the one that will be released in 2021 will be called S/4HANA 2021 regardless of which month, it is released.
Difference between S/4HANA and ECC:
So how is S/4HANA different from SAP ECC? Well, it is a huge topic and might require a book of its own, but below are some of the key differences.
While SAP ECC can run on multiple databases such as Oracle, SQL server, DB2, HANA, Max-DB; S/4HANA can run only on SAP’s HANA database. S/4HANA has been rewritten in a way to take full advantage of HANA’s in-memory capability. Hence S/4HANA is faster than its predecessors when it comes to performing certain operations
S/4HANA comes in different versions such as S/4HANA any-premise (previously known as on-premise), S/4HANA Essential edition (previously known as S/4HANA public cloud) and S/4HANA Extended edition (previously known as single tenant edition). SAP ECC doesn’t have a pure cloud version but can be hosted on one of the hyperscalers such as AWS and Azure on a HANA DB.
Some of the functionalities that were available in SAP ECC were removed in S/4HANA since there is a cloud product available as an alternative for those functionalities. For example, payroll is not available in S/4HANA as customers can choose to run payroll using SuccessFactors’s employee central (EC) payroll instead. As a result, redundant functionalities and database tables has been removed in S/4HANA making it a lean software
While S/4HANA can be technically used with SAP GUI (SAP’s desktop client based graphical user interface), in order for the customers to take full advantage of S/4HANA’s capabilities, they have to access it using FIORI (SAP’s user experience product). For example, functionalities such as robotic process automation and embedded analytics cannot be used using SAP GUI. There are FIORI apps available for ECC system as well, but they are limited in numbers and functionality
SAP claims that customers can experience a 50% reduction in data footprint by taking advantage of HANA’s data compression technique. SAP also claims that reports run 100 times faster in S/4HANA, customers experience improved insights, better forecasting and experience better user experience with the help of S/4HANA
In the next blog, i will write about the difference between S/4HANA’s different deployment options like Any premise (on-premise), Essential edition (Public cloud) and Extended edition (Single tenant).