What is SAP experience? Divide and conquer – first, what SAP is, and second, what experience is. Finally, both terms combined: what SAP experience means – for example, in a job description or a job advertisement.
In short: SAP experience means asking if an individual has had practical contact with software developed by a software manufacturer called SAP.
What SAP Is
SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing) is a software company; more specifically, SAP is a software company for business applications. Five former IBM employees founded SAP in Germany in 1972.
Today, SAP is the market leader for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) applications and 2nd placed after Microsoft for business software overall. 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system.
ERP applications are SAP’s core product. An ERP application is software and hardware to run a company – an ERP application maps the business processes of a company into IT (Information Technology).
An ERP covers all business processes of a company, from finance through logistics to human resources. For example, a finance business process is to send an invoice to a customer; an HR business process is the recruitment of a new employee.
SAP has more applications than just ERP applications. For example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications are another significant share of SAP’s portfolio. CRM applications are software and hardware to improve the customer relationships of a company.
CRM includes marketing, sales, service, and eCommerce (online shops). For example, a sales business process is the start of a new business partnership, while an eCommerce business process is the offering of a product in an online shop.
SAP offers its applications in different environments: on-premise, in the cloud, or as a hybrid version of both. On-premise means that the customer installs the SAP software on the company’s hardware or on the hardware of some third party, which is specialized in hardware. Then, the customer takes care of the software, such as updates and upgrades.
Cloud means that the customer does not install the SAP software on the hardware of the customer or the hardware of some third party. SAP installs the software on its hardware or the hardware of some third party. After that, SAP takes care of the software, such as updates and upgrades.
To dive deeper into SAP, here is a what SAP is and the SAP software evolution.
What Experience Is
Two definitions of the term experience are:
- practical contact with and observation of facts or events. For example, he had learned his lesson by painful experience.
- an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. For example, audition day is an enjoyable experience for any seven-year-old.
Therefore, the term experience means to have not just theoretical knowledge about something but practical know-how as well.
What SAP Experience Is
Finally, putting the terms SAP and experience together: SAP experience means to have experience with software from a software manufacturer called SAP; to have experience with one of SAP’s applications.
For example, a job description says under requirements ‘SAP experience’. That means that this job requires that applicants have had practical contact with an SAP application.
SAP experience means to have not only theoretical knowledge about SAP applications but must include practical know-how.
However, for which SAP application the SAP experience is necessary depends on the context of the job advertisement. For example, if the job is in finance or human resources, then the SAP experience probably needs to include an SAP R/3, SAP ECC, or SAP S/4 ERP system.
Is the advertised job in sales, marketing, or customer service? Then the SAP experience probably should be in SAP CRM 6.0, SAP CRM 7.0, or SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Service Cloud.
Take a look at what SAP is and the SAP software evolution if you are confused by the different SAP applications.
If a job advertisement just says SAP experience is required, then it is crucial to put the context of the job advertisement in context to see what in particular is meant by SAP experience – which SAP application is to be used in the job and how deep the experience needs to be.
However, if a job advertisement just says SAP experience, then the demands cannot be too high. Usually, you do not need to be an SAP expert but rather have already been in contact somehow with an SAP system. Otherwise, the term ‘SAP experience’ would have been explained by the company who placed the advertisement.
SAP Experience Functional
If a job description just says ‘SAP experience’, then the requirements for the SAP experience cannot be too high and can mostly be broken down on a functional level into two areas:
Transactional SAP Experience
Some SAP tasks require using specific transactions. A transaction is basically a mini-application in the SAP overall application. After you log in the SAP overall application, you see an input field where you can enter transaction codes, among other things.
For example, a transaction code is FB03 for finance. That transaction code opens a mini-application in the overall application where you can see finance documents. There is also the transaction code PA41 for HR to change hiring data.
Transaction codes exist for all business areas, as well as for both ERP and CRM: from finance through logistics to HR, sales, marketing, or customer service.
Through transactional experience, you can operate most SAP applications and do SAP-related tasks – anybody can learn that pretty fast.
Put simply, SAP transactional experience means to be able to open mini-applications via codes and to fill out and change the forms which show up in each mini-application.
The knowledge of what to put into the form or what to change in the form is the crucial factor here – the knowledge about the business area, such as finance, HR, logistics, sales, marketing, or customer service. The SAP-related part is learned quickly.
Non-Transactional SAP Experience
Recently, SAP added additional cloud computing applications to its portfolio – there are cloud computing and on-premise applications.
In a nutshell, cloud computing applications run on hardware that the company does not own and does not maintain. The cloud computing provider takes care of the hardware and maintenance of the applications and leases the applications to companies.
On the contrary, on-premise applications run on hardware that a company owns, and the company maintains those applications as well.
There are exceptions, but in general on-premise applications work with transactions, while cloud computing applications work without transactions.
The interface of SAP’s cloud computing applications look more like websites and are even more simple to operate than the on-premise applications. Therefore, SAP experience for SAP cloud applications is learned even faster than for SAP on-premise applications.
However, the newest SAP ERP version S/4 is a hybrid: it provides a transaction code and website-like operation as well, but it is a hybrid regarding on-premise and cloud computing, too. There is an on-premise version and a cloud computing version. Both offer a transaction code and a website-like operation.
In the future, there will be less and less transactional usage for the end-user. SAP aims to provide one consistent end-user experience. Therefore, sooner or later, all SAP applications will be as easy to operate as a website – even one more reason to not put too much thought into SAP experience as a job requirement.
How to Get SAP Experience
Unfortunately, there is no way around getting your hands on an SAP system to gain SAP experience.
But the isolated term ‘SAP experience’ in a job advertisement can mean anything. SAP has a lot of applications in different environments, which all require different operating skills, especially since SAP ramped up its portfolio with the cloud applications and a new user interface called SAP UI5.
However, once in a job that has contact with SAP systems, simply operating any SAP application can be learned quickly. Otherwise, SAP would have done a bad job in developing those applications. They are supposed to be end-user-friendly.
Therefore, if a job advertisement only says ‘SAP experience’, then you could contact the company and ask for which SAP application the experience is actually required, as well as the depth of experience needed.
That makes a good first impression because you showed interest and didn’t just apply blindly. Moreover, you showed some knowledge about SAP – there are different applications in different environments and different levels of experiences, like operating experience or deeper functional experience, such as SAP consulting, or technical experience, such as SAP development.
If the company says it is about operating experience, then you can learn that quickly. Basically, it is about filling out forms correctly – of course, in combination with the knowledge of the specific business area, regardless of SAP.
Therefore, if you have the fundamental skills in the job advertisement – such as controlling, marketing, sales, etc. – then the requirement of ‘SAP experience’ should not stop you from applying. Even if you did not know what SAP was a few minutes ago, you would quickly learn how to operate the SAP application in your particular business area.