Get your organization in shape: Keep a Clean Core with SAP Business Technology Platform
There is no question that the future is digital, So digital transformation is essential for any competitive business. Organizations must embark on a digital transformation journey that implies either a fresh start or building on top of their existing investment.
This journey isn’t just about adopting new technology but is a quest to provide differentiating value to customers while being highly available. To help organizations achieve these goals, SAP introduced its clean core strategy designed for those running legacy ERP systems and envisioning a move to a next-generation ERP like S/4HANA or for those ready to adopt S/4HANA natively.
The strategy implies keeping the ERP system as close as possible to the standard, decoupling customizations, adopting inner extension methods and being aware of the customization footprint.
If you are wondering how to begin, follow these strategies to get a clean core:
- Retire the code which is not being used.
- Leverage SAP standard processes where possible by adhering to Fit-to-Standard.
- Use APIs to leverage BTP application development and integration.
- Document technical debt in case making clean core extension is not possible.
- Leverage tools like the SAP custom code Migration App.
Do you want more details? If you are in IT Leadership check the Custom Extensions in SAP S/4HANA Implementation guide, or if you are a project manager, key user or ABAP developer check the SAP S/4HANA extensibility guide.
Why keeping a clean core is important?
Simply because keeping a clean core makes business future-proof. On the one hand, a clean core ensures operations are stable and reliable, while on the other hand, they remain agile and able to innovate at market speed.
Since Business Processes vary from one organization to another, customers require ERP systems to cover their specific and unique scenarios through customization. This customization is defined as Extensibility.
SAP customers have followed a Classic Extensibility approach to implement Extensibility in the past. Classic Extensibility allowed developers to modify the SAP Core, which was reasonable for On-Premise Operation Models. However, that is no longer a sustainable approach for Cloud Operation Models. The main reason behind this is that this kind of Extensibility adds too much complexity to the Core and prevents adopting agile practices. For example, implementing new software versions becomes too complex, too long, or too expensive.
To address this challenge, It was necessary to think about the evolution of Classic Extensibility and sustainably adapt to modern business models. A new evolution module proposes decoupling two components: one focused on predictability and the other on exploration. This evolution model is known as Bimodal IT, a concept that Gartner first introduced. Understanding this concept is paramount for organizations starting their digital transformation journey.
Following Bimodal IT and in line with the adoption of Cloud practices, SAP proposes instead In-App and Side-Side Extensibility to implement new standard functionalities without needing external tools.
Through In-App Extensibility the digital Core of SAP S/4HANA offers a set of tools covering diverse needs like modifying the UI, exposing data models, adding application logic and running specific transactions, among others. Additionally, following a ‘Fit-to-Standard’ approach, SAP constantly adopts new standard business process through the latest product releases. Hence, Industry best practices are applied to create a self-reliant solution for customers to operate effectively.
On the other hand, through Side-By-Side Extensibility SAP provides a decoupled way to innovate and implement new extensibility techniques. Side-by-side extensions open up the door to possibilities like mobile user experience, B2C and B2B integrations, Data Science, Business Intelligence, IoT among many others.
Additionally, Side-By-Side Extensibility is supported by SAP Business Technology Platform through integrations that provide seamless user experience, process connectivity, event management and data replication.
How to achieve a clean core with SAP Business Technology Platform?
By leveraging Side-By-Side Extensibility on SAP Business Technology Platform.
While predictability is offered by the S/4HANA Core and In-App Extensibility, exploration and innovation are available through SAP Business Technology Platform Technology and Side-By-Side Extensibility. Specifically, SAP Business Technology Platform offers Cloud services that integrate seamlessly with the SAP Core and help the business get the differentiating value it requires. The Platform is a unified and open PaaS that combines several capabilities on one public cloud platform where customers can deploy their extensions, minimizing the use of Classic Extensibility.
SAP Business Technology Platform comes with a broad set of Platform Services that are built upon five areas, to know:
- Application Development: Services to build applications and powerful digital experiences.
- Automation: Services to automate repetitive tasks and optimize processes.
- Integration: Services to connect with simplicity across cloud and hybrid landscapes.
- Data & Analytics: Services to give data Purpose.
- Artificial Intelligence: Services to infuse ML and AI into business processes.
What a truly unified developer experience looks like?
Another challenge to consider when extending the Core is that nowadays, organizations struggle to innovate at the speed of the business demands. In the past, developing applications required advanced technical skills, using advanced programming languages, and integrated development environments. But things have changed quickly, bringing constantly new requirements and high demand of cloud solutions. With a limited development resources problem and increasing complexity in IT landscapes , organizations require a new approach.
With that in Mind SAP embraces Low-code and no-code (LCNC) as the approach organizations can leverage to solve the business and IT challenges and innovate at market speed. The goal is to empower more employees to build software through an easy to consume model . Low-code and no-code (LCNC) refer to a new style of visual programming that makes it possible to develop applications without the use of coding languages, which greatly reduces the barrier of entry for anyone looking to take up application development. To differentiate between the two aspects:
- Low-code uses both a traditional programming language-based environment combined with no-code platforms and is used by developers with at least basic technical knowledge.
- No-code is simpler, and it fully replaces the traditional programming language-based tooling with a suite of visual development tools (ex. drag-and-drop components) and can be used by technical and non-technical people alike, such as citizen developers.
SAP Business Technology platform Low-code and no-code (LCNC) offering is named SAP Build and is designed to support Citizen developers (users of every skill level, including those with little or no formal coding experience) . The three core components of SAP Build are:
- SAP Build Apps: Enables the creation of enterprise-grade apps with drag-and-drop simplicity
- SAP Build Process Automation: Automates processes and tasks visually
- SAP Build Work Zone: Allows users to design business sites using a visual editor and pre-built templates.
Find out how you can build apps, automations, and sites without professional coding skills to easily digitalize your daily work by exploring SAP’s free learning content on SAP Build. It is designed for business users who want to rapidly develop software using little or no code at all.
On the other end of the spectrum, SAP Business Technology Platform offers Professional Code tools and services, including traditional software development where high-level programming knowledge and professional development experience is required to build applications and automation that solve more complex problems. Those include:
- ABAP Environment: Leverage ABAP to develop and run applications in the cloud
- SAP Business Application Studio: using IDE and professional frameworks for Java, Node.js, Java script
- Cloud Native Build highly scalable resilient and management applications
Finally, to ensure a unified developer experience and to harmonize a decision-making process that ensures technical activities and applications contribute to company success, an IT Center of Excellence for low-code / no-code should be established and run by IT departments to provide guardrails for the rollout of citizen development to business users in an organization.
How to achieve rapid time to value with SAP Build?
By taking advantage of Low-code and no-code (LCNC) capabilities and accelerating development through prebuilt connectors and business content for SAP and non-SAP systems. Additionally, by promoting full collaboration between business and development teams with built-in governance and lifecycle management.
Companies are getting rapid time to value developing Side-By-Side extensions on SAP Business Technology Platform and a S/4HANA Clean Core. Use cases include organizations developing extensions to:
- Adapt their asset maintenance programs using Mobile and off-line capabilities
- Implement event-driven systems to complement operation activities.
- Digitize their logistics processes by introducing OCR, AI and ML technologies
- Provide alternative payment channels to a new generation of clients.
- Provide Business Partners with digital means to join on their own terms.
- Attract a new type of workforce and keep them engaged during the recruiting process.
- Automate respective tasks and increase process visibility.
- Providing a single point of entry and communication to employees and providers
Additional use cases examples are :
- Create a Purchase Requisition in SAP S/4HANA Cloud with SAP Process Automation
- Mass Updating Asset Master Data in SAP S/4HANA with SAP Process Automation
- SAP Process Automation: Automate Your Intelligent Enterprise
Perhaps one of most outstanding use cases is the one presented during the opening Keynote of SAP TechEd 2022 by Jürgen Muller (SAP CTO). The use case description included a demo from the National Hockey League with an app to reduce the NHL’s environmental impact tracking and measuring venue operations data. Omar Mitchell of the NHL presented the Venue Metrics app: built on SAP BTP, HANA Cloud, SAP Analytics Cloud, and developed end-to-end in SAP Build.
Do you want to know more about SAP Business Technology Platform?
Further information can be provided by the SAP BTP Solution advisory team Canada.
👉Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the team and check our video series of specific BTP topics like:
- BTP for Retail: Enable New Sales Channels and Create More Meaningful Shopping Experiences:
- SAP Sustainability Control Tower: Becoming an Intelligent and Sustainable Enterprise:
- SAP Build Process Automation: Achieve Business Agility with Confidence:
- SAP Cloud Integration: Orchestrating Innovative Integrations:
- SAP Analytics Cloud: Turn Data into Insights in Minutes:
- SAP Build Apps: Enter the No-code Revolution (Former AppGyver):
- SAP API Management: Enterprise-Grade Security and Governance for Your APIs:
- SAP AI Business Services: Leverage Pre-Built AI Models To Solve Business Challenges:
Thanks for sharing John. These are the important principles we're driving home with customers. Explaining the benefits of the clean core strategy backed up by bimodal practices makes for a compelling argument in digital transformation.
Really good, detailed article, and very well thought out and structured. Look forward to reading more John!