What is SAP BTP | Business Technology Platform?

Hello friends, welcome to my blog.

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.

Introduction:

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.

Difference between PaaS, Saas, Iaas & 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.

On-premise:

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.

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP
  1. Database & Data Management
  2. Analytics
  3. Application Development & Integration
  4. Intelligent Technologies

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.

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

The above picture shows the solutions that are offered as part of the Database & Data Management solution under BTP. You can find more info regarding this project in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/database-data-management.html

Analytics

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

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.

You can receive more information regarding the solutions that are offered as part of the analytics in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/analytics.html

Application Development & Integration

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

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.

You can get more information regarding SAP Integration Suite using the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/integration-suite.html

Extension Suite

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.

More information about SAP’s extension suite is available in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products/extension-suite.html

Intelligent Technologies

Image source: SAP. All rights reserved by SAP

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.

You can find that information in the following link https://store.sap.com/dcp/en/product/display-9999951781_live_v1/SAP Business Technology Platform#pricing

How can you learn SAP BTP?

YouTube channel – SAP HANA Academy – Developer Onboarding

SAP Community – https://community.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform

OpenSAP – https://open.sap.com/courses/btp1

SAp training & certification – https://training.sap.com/content/sap-training-technology

Other useful links

https://www.sap.com/australia/products/business-technology-platform.html

https://community.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform

https://developers.sap.com/topics/business-technology-platform.html

https://help.sap.com/products/BTP/65de2977205c403bbc107264b8eccf4b/6a2c1ab5a31b4ed9a2ce17a5329e1dd8.html

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.

What is SAP SuccessFactors?

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.

  1. Core HR
  2. Talent Management
  3. Reporting & Analytics

Modules under core HR are

  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
  • SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll

Modules under Talent Management are

  • Performance & Goals
  • Compensation
  • Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Learning
  • 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

  1. Workforce analytics
  2. Workforce planning and
  3. Enterprise analytics

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
  • SAP Training & Certification – This is SAP’s official training & certification shop. SAP offers paid training and certifications for a variety of its products through this platform. Training is available as both onsite & remote learning methods. https://training.sap.com/content/sap-successfactors-hr-training-and-certification

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.

  1. Enduser – 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.
  2. 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.

Basics of SAP – Five most important elements

Dear friends,

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.

  1. Overview of SAP
  2. Products offered by SAP
  3. Types of jobs in SAP
  4. How can you learn SAP
  5. 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.

You can find the list of all the products they offer in the following link https://www.sap.com/australia/products-a-z.html

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.
  • SAP S/4HANA
  • Finance
  • Accounting & Financial Close
  • Treasury Management
  • Accounts receivables, billing & revenue management
  • Governance, risk, compliance and cybersecurity

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
  • Marketing cloud
  • Commerce cloud
  • Sales cloud
  • Service 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.
  • Supplier management
  • Souricing & contracts
  • Procurement
  • 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
  • Manufacturing
  • Product lifecycle management
  • Enterprise asset management
  • Transport 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
  • Talent management
  • 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
  • Analytics
  • Intelligent technologies

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 coursesopen.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.

Free and paid training courses available for SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management)

Hello Friends,

(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

Design –> Plan –> Procure –> Manufacture –> Sell –> Deliver –> Operate –> Project management

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?

NameDescriptionMethodLink
OpenSAPFree online courses that are offered directly by SAPFreehttps://open.sap.com/
SAP CommunitiesBlogs, webinars, events, ask questions and receive guidanceFreehttps://community.sap.com/
SAP Help PortalProduct documents, Learning journeysProducts documents are free but learning journeys will require a learning hub subscriptionhttps://help.sap.com/viewer/index
SAP Learning HubLearning resources specific to roles & skill levelPaid – different subscription levelhttps://training.sap.com/learninghub
SAP Training & Certification ShopSAP’s official training & certification shopPaidhttps://training.sap.com/

Hopefully, this will give you some useful information about the learning materials and courses available for SAP SCM.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comment section. I will try to answer them.

Wishing you all the best!

What is SAP S/4HANA?

Introduction:

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.

Checkout my YouTube video about SAP S/4HANA

Architecture:

SAP S/4HANA Architecture

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

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 modules:

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.

S/4HANA releases:

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).

If you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading my blog. Please check out my YouTube channel as well – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYhvHUq8iZRzkg_zEmvrWyQ

What is SAP Intelligent Enterprise?

Introduction:

There is a misconception in the SAP market where some people assume Intelligent Enterprise as one of the SAP product. It is not the name of an SAP product or any software product for that matter. Rather, it is a term used to represent a modern enterprise that uses advanced technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to get the most out of it’s data.

Watch my YouTube video about “SAP Intelligent Enterprise”. Don’t miss out the real world example towards the end of the video.

If you go backwards in time, before the age of computers, business operations were manual, restricted to limited set of process steps and no room for innovation or felxibility.

When computers were introduced, they revolutionised the way organisations did business. Instead of sending checks through physical mail, online money transfers were utilised. Bulky physical ledgers were replaced by software applications. Business processes were redefined to make use of the advantages provided by computers.

Fast forward to 2020, we are in a period where technological advances are at it’s peak. Modern day consumers use mobile apps and social media to make purchases and communicate with brands. They make carldless payments and receive same day delivery.

As a result, modern enterprises must change the way they do business by redefining their business processes, otherwise, they will be left behind in the fast-changing world. They must integrate their customer support channels and CRM software with social media to serve customers better. They need all the data in realtime to make faster decisions. They must utilise technologies such as AI and predictive analytics to predict things proactively. They must use technologies like IoT to save cost and provide better support to their customers. They must use cloud technologies so that they are agile and will be able to quickly adapt change. They must provide better user experience not just to their customers but also to their employees. In simple terms, they must become an Intelligent Enterprise.

SAP Intelligent Enterprise

Now let’s take a look at SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise stratey.

As per SAP’s website “Intelligent Enterprises are integrated enterprises that use data to feed their intelligence. At SAP, we are enabling our customers to become Intelligent Enterprises by integrating data and processes, building flexible value chains, innovating with industry best practices, providing our customers with the ability to understand and act on their customer, partner, and employee sentiment, and how to manage their environmental impact — to grow more resilient, more profitable, and more sustainable”

When SAP introduced it’s version of the Intelligent Enterprise in 2018, it’s framework looked like the below picture.

SAP Intelligent Enterprise – 2018 strategy

There are three main components involved in the above framework. They are

  1. Intelligent Suite: It basically contains the suite of products that are required by an organisation to run their core business processes. In the centre is the ERP digital core which could be either S/4HANA on-premise or cloud version. Supported by Customer Experience (C4HANA), Manufacturing & Supply Chain (IBP, Ariba, EAM), People Engagement (SuccessFactors & FieldGlass), Network & Spend Management (Ariba & Concur).
  2. Digital Platform: The Digital Platform provides a bunch of applications that enable the collection, connection, and orchestration of data (SAC, MDM and DWC) as well as the integration and extension of data-rich processes in integrated applications (SCP).
  3. Intelligent Technologies: Intelligent technologies such as ML, AI, IoT and Analytics help organisation to use company wide data to detect patterns, predict outcomes, suggest actions and trigger process execution.

In 2020, SAP has updated its Intelligent Enterprise framework and it looks like the below picture.

SAP Intelligent Enterprise – 2020 strategy

The latest Intelligent Enterprise framework consists of components such as Business Process, Applications, Technology and Infrastructure. SAP believes, holistic integration approach goes far beyond just technical integration of applications. Integrating both technology and business processes to deliver significant value to businesses is what will help organisations become an Intelligent Enterprise.

Let’s take a deeper look at each one of these components.

  • Business Process: This includes Business Network and Business Process Intelligence. Business Network is a cloud-based solution that helps organisations to connect all their trading partners into a single directory. It also helps them streamline their supply chain operations. It consists of applications such as Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network and SAP Asset Intelligence Network.
SAP Business Process Intelligence

Whereas Business Process Intelligence solutions enable organisations to analyse the performance of their business processes and then turn the process insights into actions to help drive digital transformation. It includes components such as Analyze, Design & Simulate, Improve, Rollout & Govern, Monitor, Model & Manage and Benchmark. SAP’s recent acquisition, Signavio, is part of the Business Process Intelligence solution.

  • Applications: This includes SAP applications such as the Intelligent Suite and Industry Cloud. Intelligent Suite further consists of SAP solutions such as Customer Experience, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, The Digital Core, People Engagement, Network & Spend Management. Industry Cloud consists of vertical solutions from both SAP and Partners that can be utilised by organisations to make use of industry best practises and extend their current business processes.
  • Business Technology Platform: It is made up of a holistic of SAP solutions such as Database & Data Management, Analytics, Application Development & Integration and Intelligent Technologies.
SAP Business Technology Platform

It provides organisations with a platform through which they can build, manage, deploy and connect data and business processes on one integrated platform.

  • Infrastructure: Customers has the option to host their applications either on SAP Data Centre or one of the Hyperscalers such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. It helps them to be more agile and also reduce Total Cost of ownership (TCO).

So all these solutions combinedly helps organisations to modernise their business and become an Intelligent Enterprise.

What is SAP SCM? (Supply Chain Management)

Before getting into the details of SAP’s SCM solution, let’s chat about what Supply Chain Management in general?

Supply Chain Management is the process of centrally managing the flow of goods from raw materials into finished products.

Let’s take a T-shirt manufacturing company as an example. On a high level, their supply chain would involve activities such as sourcing the cotton threads, buttons and labels from different vendors. Then combining those raw materials into making T-shirts in the factory and sending them to warehouses. From the warehouses, they are distributed to different wholesalers. The wholesalers then distribute them to retail shops before eventually reaching the end consumers. This is a simplistic example but supply chain processes of big organisations would be much more complicated than this. A software or a multiple set of software that helps an organisation manage these end to end supply chain processes in an efficient way is known as the supply chain software.

At SAP, SCM is not just one application but it is made up of a group of software applications that helps organisations perform operations such as supply chain networking, supply chain planning, supply chain coordination and supply chain execution.

Now let’s take a look at the different types of SAP applications that fall under the SCM umbrella.

SAP SCM consists of different varieties of SAP applications that enable organisations manage their end-to-end supply chain operations

  • SAP PLM – Product Lifecycle Management. I have already written a blog about SAP PLM. Please check it out here. In a nutshell, SAP PLM is used by organisations around the world to manage development lifecycle of both physical and digital products. It has got capabilities to manage product development projects, product costing, product engineering, product development and much more.
  • SAP IBP – IBP stands for Integrated Business Planning. It is a cloud-based solution which consists of functionalities such as sales & operations planning, forecasting and demand, response and supply, demand-driven replenishment and inventory planning. It incorporates technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence that enables capabilities such as what-if simulations, alerts and predictive planning.
  • SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud, SAP Manufacturing Execution and SAP S/4HANA Manufacturing – These bunch of applications are used for streamlining end to end manufacturing processes. They incorporate functionalities such as manufacturing operations management, comprehensive planning features, integrated scheduling, managing equipment effectiveness, etc.
  • SAP WM and EWM – Warehouse Management and Extended Warehouse Management – These are used for warehouse management and contains functionalities such as logistics management, storage and operations, outbound logistics management, freight logistics collaboration, global track and trace and much more. The Extended Warehouse Management contains the same core functionalities of SAP Warehouse Management but with additional capabilities such as internal routing and labour management.
  • SAP TM – Transport Management is used to manage the transportation aspects of goods between multiple locations. It contains functionalities such as strategic freight management, order management, transportation planning and transportation execution.
  • SAP EAM – Enterprise Asset Management is used to maintain and manage the performance of an organisation’s physical assets. It contains functionalities such as asset information management, centralised asset data repository, automated equipment tracking, work order management and mobile asset management.

As you have seen, SAP’s SCM solution contains a variety of powerful applications that are more than capable of managing supply chain operations of any organisation. A lot of these applications contain predictive analytics and machine learning which helps organisations to predict consumer behaviour well in advance.

Walgreens, one of the biggest pharmaceutical company in the US, uses SAP’s SCM solution to manage their supply chain operations. It uses analytics to predict customer behaviour and works its way up to meet the expected demand. For example, they anticipate flu patterns based on location, which allows them to forecast the required inventory for over-the-counter flu medicines in certain locations during a certain time of the year. This process helps the company to reduce excess inventory and all the cost associated with transportation and storage in warehouses.

If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

What is SAP PLM? (Product Lifecycle Management)

During the development process, a product goes through different stages such as planning, design and engineering, manufacturing, transportation, service and disposal/recycle.

If it is a digital product, then the stages will be bit different, like, requirement analysis, design, develop, test, launch, upgrade.

Whether it is a physical product or a digital product, organisations require efficient process and tools to successfully manage each and every phase of a product’s lifecycle. So that they can streamline the production process and reduce the production cost.

Lifecycle of a typical physical product development

Lifecycle of a typical digital product

SAP PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management and it is used by big organisations around the world to manage development lifecycle of both physical and digital products. It has got capabilities to manage product development projects, product costing, product engineering, product development and much more.

SAP PLM is available in different version. The one that is part of business suite of solutions, is based on the NetWeaver technology and can run on any database. Whereas the latest PLM capabilities are available as part of the S/4HANA application and runs only on the HANA database. It can be hosted as both, on-premise and cloud.

Capabilities of SAP PLM

Capabilities of PLM:

  • Portfolio and project management – Supports product development processes, project tasks, proposals, timelines, commercial project management, project network, etc.
  • Product costing – Determine product costing and simulation taking various aspects into consideration, pricing features, best target price and profitability prediction.
  • Product engineering – Collaborate with multiple teams to produce a product. Provide secure and easy access to all product development information.
  • Product development – PLM offers a 3D viewer to help engineers get a visual simulation of their product development. It can be integrated with design software like CAD to assist the development process.
  • Product compliance – Depending on the type of products you manufacture and type of industry/customers you serve, there are a variety of regulations which your product must fulfil. PLM offers capabilities to centrally manage product compliance regulations, registrations, classifications, labels and documents.
  • Integration – SAP PLM can be integrated with other SAP applications such as ECC (finance and master data), CRM (customer information), SRM(supplier and raw materials information), SCM (supply chain and transportation) and BI (analytics) to perform the end to end manufacturing business process.

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What is SAP SRM? (Supplier Relationship Management)

SRM stands for Supplier Relationship Management. Big organisations have to deal with hundreds of suppliers on a day to day basis. Those suppliers supply the organisation with materials and resources that will help the organisation to manufacture their products or deliver their services. So, it is important for an organisation to manage its suppliers efficiently which in turn will help them build a long-term relationship with them.

You might already start to notice a pattern with SAP’s product portfolio. They usually have an on-premise application for a particular domain which has been there for a long time. But in the recent years, they might also have a cloud application for the same domain which might succeed the on-premise version in the near future.

For example, SAP CRM 7.0 (on-premise version) and SAP C/4HANA (cloud application). SAP BW 7.5 or SAP BW4HANA (on-premise version) and SAP Analytics Cloud/SAP Datawarehouse Cloud (cloud application).

Watch my YouTube video about SAP SRM

In the same pattern, we have two different versions when it comes to SAP SRM as well. One is the on-premise version, SAP SRM 7.0. Enhancement pack 4 is the latest EHP version and it is based on the NetWeaver platform. It can run multiple databases such as MS SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, MaxDB and SAP HANA. End of mainstream maintenance for SAP SRM 7.0 is 31st December 2027. After that, SAP recommends its customers to transition towards its cloud application for procurement solutions called SAP Ariba.

SAP SRM 7.0 is usually integrated with MM (Materials Management) module in SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA to achieve the end to end procurement business process operation which includes, purchase requisition, purchase order management, goods receipt, material management invoices, financial invoices, and open item clearings.

In this blog, we will be discussing SAP SRM 7.0, the on-premise version of SAP SRM.

Capabilities of SAP SRM 7.0:

  • Operational Procurement – Catalog management, creating invoices, processing purchase orders, shopping cart management for direct procurement and indirect procurement.
  • Strategic Sourcing – RFx and bids management and centralised sourcing.
  • Operational Contract Management – Managing supplier contracts centrally.
  • Supplier Self Service – Manage self-service capabilities for suppliers.
  • Services Procurement – To manage services procurement for large services provided or received.
  • Operational reporting and workforce mobility.

As mentioned previously, SAP also has a cloud based B2B sourcing and procurement application called Ariba where buyers and suppliers can do business in a networked structure. It provides capabilities such as Supplier Management, Strategic Sourcing, Supply Chain, Procurement, Services Procurement and External Workforce, Selling and Fulfillment. Let’s discuss SAP Ariba in detail in an another blog post.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

What is SAP CRM? (Customer Relationship Management)

What is CRM in general?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. As the name implies, it is a software that is used to manage customer relationships of a company. It helps companies to focus on individual customers throughout their lifecycle.

Say for example, I run a SAP consulting company. Below are some of the activities that my company needs to perform when it comes to customer management.
• Manage marketing campaigns
• Lead generation
• Store customer contact information
• Manage sales opportunities
• Convert opportunities into sales
• Manage customer issues
• Receive customer feedback

A CRM software will help me perform the above activities efficiently. These activities might vary depending on the type of service or product a company sells, but the core activities will remain the same.

What are the benefits of running a CRM system?
The number of customers will grow as the company grows. So it’s vital for a company to make sure they capture all their customer information, their feedbacks, the products and services they bought, the products and services they like and dislike and much more. So that the company can keep the customers happy and as well as continue to sell them their products and services.

Below are some of the benefits of running a good CRM system
• Identify, capture and categorise leads in a better way
• Increase referrals from existing customers
• Offer better customer support
• Improve the quality of products and services

Now what CRM software does SAP have?

SAP CRM 7.0 capabilities


SAP offers a variety of CRM applications in the form of both cloud and on-premise model. Initially, SAP offered CRM functionalities embedded within the R/3 application in 1990. Later on in 2000, SAP released its first standalone CRM software called SAP CRM 2.0.  

The latest version is SAP CRM 7.0 which is the on-premise version of SAP’s CRM application and It has Sales, Marketing, Service and Customer interaction capabilities. EHP 4 is the latest EHP version of CRM 7.0 and it is supported until 31st December 2027. After that, customers are advised to transition towards SAP C/4HANA.
 
Launched in 2018, SAP C/4HANA is the next generation CRM application offered by SAP in the cloud. It provides modern tools to engage modern customers through social media and mobile platforms. It can also integrate with other SAP backend systems and as well as applications such as email, calendar and social media. SAP C/4HANA provides capabilities such as Commerce, Marketing, Revenue, Sales and Services. We will discuss about SAP C/4HANA in another detailed blog post.