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ABAP Developer Specialist or Generalist or something else?

What is an ABAP developers nowadays? This question I’m trying to get answered and also how I would describe my work at this time as a developer?

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( https://infogr.am/abap_developer-96 )

In this blog I try to “better understand” the ABAP Developer or sort the required Skill-Set of an ABAP Developer mentally.

The classic ABAP developers

Is the classic ABAP developer existing at all? Why the skill requirements are so different? And how the developer Jobs actually looks really?

In other professions there was a development from generalists to specialists and to Super-specialists. Take, for example, the doctor profession for comparison. Here the development of the general physician to the medical specialist as to the Super-specialist. A similar trend I see already in our profession.

Specializations of the ABAP Developer

  • classic ABAP Developer
    • enjoy Controls / Reports / Screen Programming
  • WebDynpro Developer
    • WebDynpro ABAP 4 / JAVA
  • BW Developer
  • SAU UI Developer 5
    • Fiori
    • HTML, CSS, Javascript, Jquery
  • SAP HANA Developer

MUST-HAVE-knowledge for all ABAP developers

Yes, it is a criterion that both in freelance as well as in permanent Jobs you should mastery the ABAP OO and  also the OO thinking which summarizes for me content such as OOA, OOD and architecture skills.

SAP Module knowledge

Among the technological skills SAP Module skills are added.
In the SAP environment, there are an estimated 250 main and 750 sub-Modules. The SAP Module knowledge is very often a must-criterion for the ABAP Developer and only in combination they describe the “ideal candidate” for the company. I have my own opinion abaout the module-topic and my experience is so far that even experienced generalists  brings added value to projects where for them new Modules are used.

Additional knowledge

Each ABAP Developer should bring a good basic skills in the following topics:

  • Interface technologies (BAPI, RFC, IDoc, XML)
  • Performance Basics
  • Security Basics
  • Testing Basics

New frameworks and tools

  • BRFplus (see SCN)
  • BOPF (see SCN)
  • Core Data Services (CDS, see SCN)

What does this mean for me as a developer? The comparison to medicine can certainly bring many insights, but our profession is without question to understand quite different. My intuition tells me that the skill-set is quite developed so that a “broad-based developer” can make a big added value in the company in combination with a “specialization”.

Generalist or specialist or super-specialist?

How do you see that?
What specializations  can you find in your job environment?

Info

This Blog is also translated in german: ABAP Entwickler quo vadis?

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8 Comments

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  1. Pablo Casamayor

    Hi,

    good question…

    Anyway, rather than “Quo vadis?” i´d have used this other phrase: “Respice post te! , hominem te esse memento! because someone mastering all the techiques you mention here might easily be tempted to consider himself as a demi-god. 😉

    Best regards.

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    1. Damir Majer Post author

      Hi Pablo,

      indeed, you are right!

      But don´t forget “Even the longest journey begins with the first step” 😆


      Cheers,

      Damir

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  2. Vadim Vologzhanin

    Very interesting topic, thanks!

    In my job environment there is another differentiation into ERP (FI, MM, SD) and HCM ABAPers. It takes place because of many specialities of HCM such as infotypes, payroll, HR logical databases (PNPCE, PCH) and so on. The difference between HCM(HR) and any other modules is deeper than between FI and MM for instance.

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    1. Damir Majer Post author

      Hi Vadim,

      yes, this is a good point and I agree with you!

      Developing in HCM needs special knowledge (all stuff with logical databases, time-relevant expressions like PROVIDE etc..)

      Cheers,

      Damir

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  3. Christian Dr. Drumm

    Hi Damir,

    interesting blog/discussion.

    I want to bring a different focus to the discussion. IMHO the analogy you made regarding the specialization in other professions (general practitioner to surgeon to brain surgeon) doesn’t really fit to a programming language like ABAP. For me ABAP, the new technologies (HANA, HTML5) and the new frameworks (e.g. BRF+, SAP UI5) are just tools. These tools continuously evolve. The same happens in other professions (e.g. normal surgeries vs. minimal inversive surgeries or normal X-ray vs. CAT scans). So as in any other profession developers in the SAP world continuous need to learn the new tools. Currently this requires to learn new programming languages besides ABAP and new development paradigms.

    I think similar things are happening for all developers. For example, in the Java world functional features were introduces with the recent Java version and databases are not only JDBC compliant databases anymore.

    Nevertheless, I think the specialization you described is also happening in the area of software development. The specializations I’m thinking of are areas like embedded development, operating system development, enterprise software, parallel software etc. Currently most developers specialise in only one or very few of such areas and IMHO the specialization will continue.

    To come back to you original question. Currently I have the impression that the SAP world is still an area where most developers focus on ABAP. The advantage of ABAP in the past was, that it is relatively easy to learn even without any programming background. Here I see currently a change happening. Due to the diversification of the tools and frameworks not everyone developing in ABAP today will be able to develop using all the new tools in the future. While there certainly will be ABAP-only areas in the future I expect that these will be less important then today.

    Christian

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  4. Jelena Perfiljeva

    This looks like a good opportunity to bring up the old “if drivers were hired as programmers” joke. 🙂

    Personally I happened to work mostly for the small/medium SAP customers in the teams not bigger than a dozen of employees. In such environments one can’t really specialize strictly in one area and is forced to cover a lot of technical ground as well as maintain decent business knowledge. It works well with my personal preferences since I don’t really feel like being on the cutting edge, but at the same time don’t aim for a single “specialization” because you never know what the next job might bring. Diversity is the key for success here.

    I wish it was as easy for the programmers to plan as it is for the doctors though. Human bodies don’t change that frequently – if someone wants to work as, say, an ENT specialist it’s likely they will find many ears, noses and throats to work with for their whole career. But in IT as soon as you start getting familiar with something it becomes obsolete.

    However, just as in the medicine field, specialists and GPs can (and should) easily coexist in the SAP world. One just needs to know when to use which. Sadly, some people out there seem to use SCN to pretend they’re specialists even when they’re clearly not. But that’s another story…

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  5. Michelle Crapo

    I’ve worked in medium, large, and small firms.

    My preference was the medium and small.   Why?   I got to have fun in almost all the areas.   I hate to be “stuck” doing one thing.

    Now – now I am in my dream job.   I get to do ABAP, Configuration, all modules, specialize in PP, AND learn the .NET / VB side of things.   Is that cool or what?   I’m having so much fun.

    But it would be different in any company you go to.  Even all the medium companies don’t expect the same things from JUST an ABAP developer.   I have a bit of a rant on that.

    What is the same?  Constant learning.   There is always something you don’t know but should, and you don’t know you should.  Like that sentence?   If you knew you should know it, you would be trying to learn it.   Oh boy – I guess I’ll just give up.   There is always more.  General or special?   I think it depends on where you want to work, and what you want to do.   I am a firm believer work has to be fun.

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