An Overview of the terminology used in an SAP S/4HANA Cloud Project
I still remember vividly when SAP ECC 6.0 was being implemented at the company I worked for. The organization had never used SAP before, and while we’d made it clear that we were brand new to SAP –the delivery project team couldn’t help themselves from constantly using technical terms and arconyms like SD, MM, Sales Org, IMG etc. I found this quite frustrating and while I eventually learned the language – I still remember the frustration well enough to mostly be aware of when I’m using these specialist’s terms myself. In this blog, I’ll highlight the terms that I find come up in most SAP S/4HANA Cloud projects, and provide a brief description of the them. The descriptions are short and meant to give you an idea of what the term is referring to. Many of these terms will have entire websites dedicated to them, and so the short descriptions here only scratch the surface – but hopefully the synopsis here helps get you get started in recognizing what the project team is talking about.
The list is alphabetized according to the typically spoken words (not necessarily the correct naming) – and will be updated as I factor in additional terms based on comments/feedback. I will sometimes use other acronyms/terms to explain each other, but those used acronyms will also be described in their respective sections.
SAP has created a number of templates that you can use to do things like execute workshops, excel templates to gather information for scope items, etc. These files ‘accelerate’ the project execution, as they avoid each project team from having to create the resources themselves. Accelerators for SAP S/4HANA Cloud are hosted in the Roadmap Viewer.
Proper Term: SAP Activate. This could refer to two things. 1: SAP Activate Methodology – The way SAP recommends you structure and execute the implementation project. For example, according to this methodology there are 6 project phases (Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy, Run) and you carry out the Fit To Standard Workshop in the ‘Explore’ Phase. 2: SAP Activate Framework – This is a grouping term that consists of the Activate Methodology, SAP Best Practices and Guided Configuration.
An API allows you to exchange data with other systems. An API for SAP S/4HANA Cloud for example could allow you to enable another system to retrieve pricing information from the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system, or it could allow you to have your SAP S/4HANA Cloud system retrieve pricing information from an external system. APIs provided for SAP S/4HANA Cloud are well documented in the API Hub.
The backend usually refers to areas of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system that are similar to the IMG/SPRO area of on premise systems. The ‘backend’ of SAP S/4HANA Cloud systems are not available to anyone except SAP support engineers. In SAP S/4HANA Cloud, configuration is done instead using Manage Your Solution or via the CBC configuration space.
Business Add-In. There are some business processes that you may need to work in a different way than standard. For example, your business has a unique need when creating a sales order to make sure that two fields don’t have the same value (e.g. Customer Reference number doesn’t match the Billing Instruction). You can write ‘custom logic’ to check the two fields against each other and give you a warning/error message only if the system has a ‘BAdI’ for that object which gives you a place make that change.
Proper Term: SAP Best Practices. This may refer to the ‘best practice approach’ or ‘best practice content’. The SAP best practice approach is the best way to carry out a process using SAP software, while best practice content may refer to content in the Best Practices Explorer. I’ve written a blog elaborating on best practices here, and I like this one for describing best practice content.
Proper Term: Business Driven Configuration Questionnaire. There are pre-made questionnaires in the best practices explorer for each LoB that SAP provides to help the project team check on configuration and business requirements before and during the Fit To Standard workshop.
Proper Term: SAP Business Technology Platform. This was formerly known as SAP Cloud Platform. This is used in projects for side by side extensibility and integrations that require additional functionality beyond just communication arrangements.
Proper Term: SAP Best Practices Explorer. This site contains documents like test scripts, setup guides and process diagrams for all scope items available in SAP S/4HANA Cloud.
Proper Term: SAP Cloud Application Lifecycle Manager. Some projects may utilize SAP CALM which supports you in managing your implementation. This platform enables you to manage the SAP S/4HANA Cloud project via the Activate Methodology with an interface for reviewing selected scope items, notes from the fit to standard, managing the project team etc. More information here. Rarely, this term may also be used in the sense of ‘please remain calm’ 🙂
Proper Term: SAP Central Business Configuration. SAP S/4HANA Cloud systems that were provisioned as of a specific point in 2021 will have this central tool for configuring their business processes in SAP S/4HANA Cloud and other systems. For these systems, the CBC tool is used instead of the ‘Manage Your Solution’ app that is used in systems provisioned before. More information on CBC here.
CE2105 / CE2102 / 2102 etc.:
CE is sometimes used to abbreviate ‘Cloud Edition’. As the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system is upgraded every quarter, for the update done in 2021-02 (February) – this is shortened to 2102. Similarly, the next upcoming release as of this blog will be in May (month 05) of 2021, and so is shortform called the ‘2105’ release. If you see a blog/Q&A that was shared then with the tag ‘CE2008’ – this means that the information shared was valid as of the 2020-08 version of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud software – so you should take care that functionality may have changed since then. (Credit @Julius Englert)
Proper Term: SAP Community. You are here. The community is a place to discuss challenges and how-to questions with experts on the topic. For SAP S/4HANA Cloud there is the Public Community where you are reading this blog, and also a Private Community operated by the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Expertise Services Team with additional support for Partners and SAP Internals accessible here.
Also referred to as ‘Customizing’ in on-premise. SAP provides various options for modifying the way things work within the system. For example, it is up to the business whether an order that exceeds the customer’s credit limit is automatically blocked from being created and saved at all – or if the order should be allowed to be created, but it is only blocked from being delivered. You modify the settings that control this system behavior with configuration. This is done using the Manage Your Solution app in systems without CBC, and in the CBC tool for systems with CBC.
Proper Term: Customer Success Manager. Customers who purchase SAP Preferred Success will be assigned a CSM who will support them in a wide variety of ways in throughout the project implementation and after. More information here.
Proper Term: Digital Discovery Assessment Tool. Before an SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementation begins, the implementing party will assess the customer requirements using this DDAT to check things like the scope, localizations required etc. to pre-check customer business requirements and any legal or critical requirements that may require further investigation before the project is commenced.
SAP shares a large amount of information about new functionality being delivered in SAP S/4HANA Cloud with each quarterly upgrade. These quarterly upgrades, and the content provided to enable the community on these innovations – may be referred to as Delta Content. Delta Training refers to special events that are focused on sharing critical information on these upgrades and more in a cadence matching the upgrade. You can access previous quarterly release highlights here.
Full term: End-to-End. This is often used in the context of ‘end to end processes.’ Sometimes, this is used to refer to business processes reflected by Scope items, and it is sometimes also used to describe the larger business processes into which multiple scope items fall, such as ‘Lead to Cash’ or ‘Procure to Pay’.
Proper Term: SAP S/4HANA Cloud – The SAP S/4HANA Cloud product has previously been known by the name SAP S/4HANA Cloud Essentials
Proper Term: SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended Edition – This is a different product with different functionality and implementation methodology from SAP S/4HANA Cloud. More information here.
There are very specific cases in which a Support Engineer may carry out system configuration that is not available via the Manage Your Solution app or via CBC. This sort of configuration is called ‘Expert Configuration’. The list of pre-approved expert configuration activities are available here.
To meet business/legal requirements – you may need to ‘extend’ the functionality made available by default in the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. You can do this via in-app extensibility, or side-by-side extensibility. Things like adding new custom fields to the system, or significant extensions of business processes with additional steps/apps fall under the banner of extensibility.
Fit-to-Standard (sometimes written as ‘F2S’) workshops are core building blocks for the entire SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementation. Fit To Standard workshops are typically carried out for each scope item being implemented, and determine what will be configured and delivered in the customer system. There is a wealth of information on the community about the Fit to Standard workshop.
If you identify what seems to be a bug in the system and need an engineer to check into the situation – you may create an ‘incident’ using your S-Userto begin the process. This may also sometimes be referred to as a ‘case’ instead of a ticket.
ILM / Information Lifecycle Management:
Information has a lifecycle: It is created, it lives within databases and systems, it changes, and it is archived and eventually deleted. How we create, store, retrieve, and delete it is termed information lifecycle management (ILM). At SAP we define ILM as a combination of processes and technologies whose goal it is to provide the right information at the right time, and at the right place, with the lowest possible costs, over the required life time of the data. This entails knowing and categorizing your data, defining policies that govern what you do with the information, setting up your system in such a way that you can apply these policies to your data, and then implementing your information management strategy with the help of technology. (Credit @Inga Turcan)
This is where SAP learning content, including certification courses and many live sessions are hosted. The learninghub requires a subscription. More information here.
Proper Term: Line of Business. Functionality (and scope items) in SAP are often grouped into different streams called ‘line of business’ which largely conform to the business operations they are named after. For example, if your business sells product those sales related processes are in the ‘Sales’ line of business, while procurement related processes are in the ‘Sourcing and Procurement’ line of business. The Lines of Business groupings as of 2021-04 are: Asset Management, Finance, Human Resources, Manufacturing, Professional Services, R&D/Engineering, Sales, Service, Supply Chain, Sourcing and Procurement. Note that some scope items do not fit into these LoBs and are grouped under other headings as per this page on the Best Practices Explorer.
Proper Term: Organizational Change Management. A new ERP implementation will have significant impact on the daily activities of many persons in the customer organization – from busines users through to supporting IT experts. Activities such as getting them onboard and on-side fall under the banner of OCM. Failure to address this properly may lead to overall project failure.
Output / Output Management:
Things like printouts of purchase orders or invoices, or e-mails of customer statements and picking lists fall under the topic of ‘output management’ – documents that are being ‘output’ from the SAP S/4HANA Cloud System.
Productive system/Production system. This is your live ‘real’ SAP system that you use to issue real customer invoices, purchase orders, and generate financial reports. This is what your business uses for everyday operations, and your customers and suppliers transact with you via.
Quality System. This is another instance of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system which is not used for actual transactions with real customers/suppliers/authorities. This is where you may load sample data and test new functionality before determining that it is suitable to be ‘transported’ to your productive system.
This is sometimes used to refer to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. Using this abbreviation can lead to a lot of confusion especially where there is a 2-Tier environment, and an on-premise system is being used in addition to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system, as this is sometimes also used to refer to S/4HANA On-Premise systems.
This is another instance of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system that is made available (‘provisioned’) upon commencement of the ‘Prepare’ phase of the project. It is only available for a limited time,
Scope item is a term that identifies a specific business process. For example, in the system and in real life – there’s a difference in some steps if you are selling an inventory managed items (e.g. Cell Phones) vs. service items (e.g. labour). There are therefore different ‘scope items’ associated with each of these processes – each assigned a 3 digit code. This allows you to more easily find information related to the BD9 – Sell from Stock scope item (Test Scripts, Configuration help, Community questions) without getting it confused with the same content for 2EZ – Sale of Services.
SAP Cloud Platform. This name is no longer valid, as it has been replaced by BTP.
Proper Term: Service User. SAP customers may acquire an S-User to identify themselves or their representatives when accessing things like technical support. For example, you will need to log in with your S-User credentials to create a support incident. More information here.
Test Automation Tool:
SAP S/4HANA Cloud comes with an embedded tool that can be used in the quality system to automatically execute various steps within the system and record the result. This is used to test business processes with reduced manual effort.
So far I haven’t thought of critical terms beginning with X, Y or Z – so apologies for the abrupt ending. I hope this was a bit helpful! If you have any suggestions for terms frequently used in SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementations, please mention it in the comments and I’ll consider updating the blog to add it.