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3 Key Concepts for SAP

Beginners
Beginning 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. 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.

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.
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+Acr
onyms. I also 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).
2 - 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. Do you have a fourth
concept that you think is valuable for beginners?
Share below.