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What is the difference between SAP Best Practices and an SAP Model Company?

Last updated: November 29 2019

SAP Best Practices and SAP Model Companies are used to accelerate customer’s SAP cloud and on-premise implementation projects. You can find lots of excellent content on the benefits and value of using them in SAP implementations. This blog looks at what they contain and describes the key differences between SAP Best Practices, SAP Model Companies and Rapid Deployment Solutions. It answers some of the questions often asked by customers. It also contains useful links to get the latest information.

The blog covers S/4HANA cloud and on-premise deployments. See my related blog to understand the S/4HANA deployment options. 

SAP Best Practices

SAP Best Practices came first and have evolved and improved for many years. They provide baseline configuration, standard business processes and a library of detailed documentation. They focus on cross-industry scope for S/4HANA but also cover C/4HANA and other cloud solutions.
The same Best Practice content generally exists in S/4HANA cloud and S/4HANA on-premise. (There are a few exceptions). They cover 42 countries in on premise and cloud. There are over 200 scope items representing business processes or functions. Each scope item can be activated in a sandbox or development system and has a process diagram and detailed test script.

SAP Best Practices are available free of charge and can be seen or downloaded at the Best Practices Explorer with your s-user: You can also find SAP packages for integration, data migration and analytics topics. Some partner solution packages are also available.

SAP S/4HANA Best Practices have significantly improved since 1) they became the foundation for S/4HANA Cloud and 2) they are developed and tested at the same time as the software by the same team. This means different Best Practices work together seamlessly and continuously evolve based on feedback from cloud customers. S/4HANA Cloud Best Practices are updated every quarter and on-premise S/4HANA Best Practices are updated once a year.

They can be selectively activated into your on-premise sandbox or development system using a tool called SAP Solution Builder. You can choose which countries you want, what scope items you need and certain other input parameters. S/4HANA cloud customers get content activated by SAP as part of their deployment. Activation creates new configuration settings and does not change the standard configuration that is part of a normal on-premise installation. For example, they may create one company code and other selected organization units that can then be renamed.

Activation is usually a one-off process, however, after the initial activation, an experienced team can do more delta activation. For example, to add an additional country or extra scope items. There are also tools to generate sample master data.

Once activated, even inexperienced SAP users can run end-to-end integrated business processes immediately by simply following the test script documentation. The greatest acceleration can be achieved by activating the configuration content into a new development system at the start of a project creating transports as you go. Alternatively, if you are already underway, a sandbox can be a good reference for project team members.

With Best Practices available, why start with an empty system? Read on further to see how SAP consulting can activate Best Practices for you. Alternatively, get a hosted 30-day trial (no licence required) here Or customers and partners with licences can use an “appliance” to get an activated sandbox quickly. This uses the Cloud Appliance Library (CAL). 

SAP’s implementation methodology, SAP Activate, recommends the use of SAP Best Practices in a “solution-led” approach. It advocates executing Fit-to-Standard workshops (for cloud) or Fit-Gap workshops (for on-premise) instead of the traditional Blueprint workshops that were part of the old ASAP methodology. Starting from day one with the standard SAP solution allows you to keep to standard and minimize customizations.

Many on-premise customers use SAP Solution Manager for the application lifecycle management of their SAP solutions. All the SAP Best Practice business processes diagrams and accelerators can be imported into Solution Manager and changed to reflect your project design.

Cloud (or hybrid cloud / on-premise) customers can use the Cloud Application Lifecycle Management implementation portal instead of Solution Manager.


SAP Model Companies

SAP Best Practices provide excellent cross-industry baseline solutions. Cloud single-tenant edition, hosted or on-premise customers can go one step better. What if you need deeper industry or line of business functionality and processes? Or, what if you want to avoid having to learn how to activate Best Practices yourself?

SAP Model Companies build on top of parts or all of the S/4HANA Best Practice baseline content. They provide additional processes, solutions, configuration and scope items. This can include additional SAP applications e.g. Leonardo innovations, SAP Integrated Business Planning and SAP Business Planning and Consolidation. Or they provide configuration and scenarios for a particular industry. They are purchased from SAP and include an engineered service to activate the Model Company in your on-premise, hosted or cloud solution.

For more information see the Model company page. Here is the current list of available Model Companies. Each one provides a choice of “scope options”. SAP upgrade the Model Company content once a year after the Best Practices content is upgraded.

Model Companies are rapidly deployed into a new sandbox using an “appliance”. The Cloud Appliance Library (CAL) can be used to download a single model company into Azure or AWS in a few hours. The Model Company must have been purchased from SAP, you must have the relevant software licences and pay the Azure or AWS hosting charges. CAL is available here: Alternatively, for an on-premise data centre, including cloud providers such as Azure and AWS, it can be set up in 2 to 3 weeks using a download or blu-ray disc.   SAP can also host a Model Company in HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud).

SAP Model companies can be used to jump-start a project that is SAP-led or being implemented by a partner. Furthermore, because they are all built on the same cross-industry Best Practice baseline, SAP can rapidly merge or assemble many of the offerings together into a single instance. This is a good way to maximize the number of ready to run processes.

Model Companies are normally used to build a sandbox system (rather than a development system). Like Best Practices, they include sample organization structures and master data.

The Multinational Corporations Model Company allows you to use Best Practices for multiple countries in one SAP instance. For more details on this important “foundation” model company, see my blog:

A service summary like the one below is available for all Model Companies.

Some of the industry and Line of Business Model Companies are available for just one reference country and must be localized to a target country after they have been activated.

You can buy a 30 day trial edition of some Model Companies. These are for a limited number of users and no configuration is possible.  No license is required.


Rapid Deployment Solutions

Before SAP Model Companies were released, SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDSs) were available. Most RDSs have been replaced by broader industry or line of Business SAP Model Companies. A few RDSs remain for areas such as analytics and integration and are still available in the Best Practice Explorer.



I hope you found this blog informative.

Amin Hoque
Enterprise Architect at SAP Digital Business Services UK

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