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Starting your SAP career is an exciting time, but it can also be very overwhelming. Like any technology or new career, there is a steep learning curve that can feel insurmountable. The goal of this blog is to concisely give you three major concepts to focus on when starting your career.

As a SAP beginner, you need a basic understanding of business processes, SAP acronyms and project concepts.  I first learned about SAP and ERP’s (Enterprise Resource Planning systems) while in school at Grand Valley State University. The SAP Alliance business program included a mandatory ERP course. Before fumbling through SAP transactions, we were given a framework of common business processes. For example, to understand how to process an invoice, you must first understand the purpose of invoices and where this step fits in the overall order to cash process. We also needed some key SAP and project terms to get a foundational understanding of what’s involved in a SAP project and the key components of the system.

1. Business Processes: If you have little or no exposure to a functional area, you first want to start with understanding the business processes that flow through SAP. Also keep in mind that most processes are cross-functional and go end-to-end, meaning they pass through many departments in an organization. Even if you are in a technical role, you need a general understanding of what business drivers are behind your role. Michael Management courses provide a functional understanding as you learn about SAP. You may also find it valuable to invest in business/or SAP textbooks specific to your functional area. As you dive in to SAP, remember to always focus on how technology drives the business. Focusing on streamlining business processes can avoid creating unnecessarily complex technical design and avoid creating waste in the system.

2. SAP Acronyms: Secondly, understanding SAP acronyms and how you fit in the overall SAP project is important in quickly providing value. As a beginner, you’re probably finding the world of SAP to be filled with intimidating acronyms. Before you get too overwhelmed, realize that there is probably only a subset of acronyms and terms that will actually be relevant to your role in SAP. As you meet people in your project or organization, you can start to build a mental list of which areas you will integrate with and hone in on those terms and acronyms. To start, I recommend you check out Michael Management’s course SAP100 Essential SAP Skills. It’s the perfect course to feel comfortable with basic SAP concepts and terms.  I’ve also found many websites that feature a list of SAP acronyms that you can use as reference. This wiki on SAP’s community network may be helpful: http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/HOME/SAP+Acronyms. Finally, I recommend following SAP news to learn more about the SAP terms you hear. SAP’s community network is an active community of SAP customers and partners and its one of the best resources to learn about functional modules, SAP trends, and news.  Keep in mind that it takes experience and your own research to feel comfortable with SAP acronyms.

Here are some common acronyms that every beginner will hear:

  • Functional & Technical Modules: FI (Finance), CO (Controlling), SD (Sales & Distribution), MM (Materials Management), HR (Human Resources), BI (Business Intelligence), BW (Business Warehousing), PM (Plant Maintenance), QM (Quality Management), LE (Logistics Execution), FSCM (Financial Supply Chain Management), PP (Production Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), SEC (Security), Basis (Business Application Software Integration System)
  • SAP Technical Acronyms: ABAP (Advances Business Application Programming), ALE (Application Link Enabling), ALV (SAP List Viewer), BAPI (Business Application Programming Interface), BEx (Business Explorer), BAdI (Business Add In), CATT (Computer Aided Test Tool), GUI (Graphical User Interface), HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), IMG (Implementation Guide), EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) LSMW (Legacy System Migration Workbench), OLE (Object Linking and Embedding), OSS (Online Support System), R/3 (Real Time 3 Tier), RFC (Remote Function Call), SOLMAN (Solution Manager), WD (Web Dynpro), SPRO (SAP Project Reference Object).

3. SAP Project Concepts: Finally, every beginner should understand basic SAP project concepts like the phases and roles people involved in a SAP implementation.

Let’s begin with SAP deployment phases. ASAP, Accelerated SAP, is the standard implementation approach that is used on every SAP implementation. The approach consists of 5 phases: Project Prep, Business Blueprint, Realization, Final Prep, and Go Live & Support. Each phase includes important milestones that allow the project to continue to the next phase. A successful project has clear ‘exit’ and ‘entrance’ criteria that must be fulfilled for the project to move to the next phase. These criteria are reviewed by project management and key stakeholders to assess the projects performance.


In the project preparation phase, project goals, scope and timeline are defined by project stakeholders and project management. In the blueprint phase, current business processes are documented and then redesigned to fit in SAP. Any requirement or process that does not fit using standard SAP functionality is documented as ‘gap’. This is a key part of the blueprint phase called ‘Fit/Gap Analysis’. In the realization phase, all requirements are configured in the system and the system is testing using integrated scenarios. Integration testing is cross-functional testing used to identify ‘defects’ or issues in the system that need to be resolved. In final preparation, testing is completed, training is delivered, and cutover steps are performed. Cutover involves all the steps necessary to go from the old, legacy system to SAP. Finally, Go Live and support occurs when users begin to perform their job in SAP and the project team monitors and supports users.

If you are fortunate enough to join a project in the beginning phases, you may have a better understanding of how a project moves from project preparation, to blueprint, to realization, to final preparation, and in to go live and support. Realistically, most resources are brought in to a project as things ramp up in the blueprint and realization phases.

Next, it’s key to understand who is involved in a SAP implementation to understand where you fit in. At the top level, you have corporate executives that are deemed project stakeholders. It is their job to oversee the project from a high level and ensure it fulfills the defined goals and objectives. Below stakeholders is the project management which is more hands on in overseeing the project and closely monitors each functional and technical area of the project. Project management helps mitigate risks and issues, delivers project messaging, and keeps the project within the timeline and budget. Heading up each functional and technical team is a team lead. Team leads oversee team members and communicate status, risks, and issues to project management. Functional team members configure the system to meet business requirements and write functional specifications for customized needs. Technical team members work in a variety of roles: security, ABAP development, data conversion, Basis, etc.

By focusing in on these 3 concepts, I hope you can quickly come up on the SAP learning curve and provide value on your project.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may be interested in my book, The Essential SAP Career Guide. It is a comprehensive guide to starting your career and covers job search tips, key skills for your first job, and how to choose consulting vs. industry positions.

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38 Comments

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  1. Pallavi Juturu

    Hi Tanya,

    That’s a comforting blog for a beginner like me.

    Can you tell a bit about SAP BI. I am planning to study this module and have absolutely no idea about where to start and how to study.

    This would be highly appreciated. Thanks.

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  2. Venkateswaran Krishnamurthy

    A Good Blog.

    I would like to add one more point for every SAP beginner or Consultant.

    Every Implementation will give us new type of experience and challenges.  Documentation is very important for every SAP consultat and I would say this can be a fourth concept.

    Regards,

    Venkat

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  3. Ning Li

    For, the business processes is very useful.

    I will study it further.

    If possible. would you please introduce more about what the standard courses are, like ADM100 or else?

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    1. Tanya Duncan Post author

      I’m not sure about courses, but I recommend the three books authored by Simha Magal and Jeffrey Word. Dr. Magal was one of my professors in college. He’s a SAP mentor and his books with Jeffrey Word detail business processes in SAP. I highly recommend these books to help you understand common processes and how they fit in to SAP.

      http://www.amazon.com/Simha-Magal/e/B001JSHIYS

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    1. mahesh kumar komatineni

      Hi Arvind,

      i hope you allredy have Accounting experiance, if yes observe the process that mean how the product or service is going to customer and how business getting benifit from the customer.

      it is little difficult to explain in simple words.process is nothing but how the business organisation do its daily activities. and how it will acomplish its targets by using the available resources.

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      1. Arvind Agarwal

        Hi Venkat,

        Thanks for info. I worked in finance depart. of a small organization and then moved towards IT support. I understand the basic process of accounting and finance and flow of docx within organization. But definitely process followed in large organizations would be different than smaller one. Where can I learn what processes are followed by different industries? Also where can I learn more about RTR integration points?

        Arvind

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        1. mahesh kumar komatineni

          Hi Arvind,

          yes process will different in large organisations.sap is all about mapping Existing Business Process into sap.so how well you understood the process that much you can understood the sap. as for my knowledge there is no standard techniques to understand the business process because there is hindreds of business processes which will changes from industry to indstry company to company.so select any manufacturing company which you can get some info about internal operations. gather info and try to analyse with your accounting knowledge.

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      1. Arvind Agarwal

        Thanks Tanya. This is something I was looking for. Much appreciated.

        I am also preparing for certification in FI. Where can I find some more guidance on how to prepare and materials for practicing?

        Thanks in advance.

        Arvind

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  4. Deepak Khanna

    Hi Tanya,

    It is indeed a helpful and informative blog to understand your basic eligibility to start your career in SAP.

    I am novice in terms of SAP, Would like to set career for SAP UI5, as i have 5+ years of experience working on User Interface development.

    Today, also will you recommend doing Micheal Management SAP100 Essentials course?

    Thank You

    Deepak Khanna

    (0) 
  5. Vinod Sharma

    Hi Tanya,

    I am new to SAP, have a 10+ years UI background and i’m currently involved in FIORI/UI5 project. I would want to pursue SAP technologies like FIORI and HANA but face difficulties in understanding SAP systems altogether, could you please advise how I can get accustomed with and create a comfort zone in the SAP related environment? Where do i make a start from?

    Would appreciate your help,

    Many Thanks

    Vinod

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  6. Md. Taiful Bari

    Hi Tanya,

     

    Appreciate your time and effort for the Post.

     

    What about someone looking forward to understand SAP as Technical Sales role?

    I have wide experience with IT Hardware required for any SAP Project and now want to learn in details about SAP ERP (may be HANNA S/4).

    I have no expertise in Business process or accounting or similar. Do I need to have such knowledge to understand SAP as an ERP and its functionality?

     

    Will appreciate highly if you pls reply.

     

    BR,

    Taiful

    (0) 

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