SAP experience means practical knowledge of software from SAP.
SAP is a huge business software manufacturer and is 2nd placed after Microsoft for business applications worldwide.
So, if you want to learn step-by-step what SAP experience is and how you can get it then this article is for you.
Let’s dive right in.
- SAP Experience in a Nutshell
- What is SAP?
- What is Experience?
- What is SAP Experience?
- What is the best way to get SAP Experience?
SAP Experience in a Nutshell
When a job posting lists SAP experience as a job requirement, it means they want candidates that are familiar with software developed by a business software manufacturer called SAP, which stands for Software, Applications, and Products in Data Processing.
But what exactly is SAP, and how can you get experience with SAP applications? Let’s take a look at the following:
- first, what SAP is,
- second, what experience is, and
- finally, both terms combined – what SAP experience means.
What Is SAP?
SAP 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 they’re placed 2nd placed after Microsoft for business software overall.
77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system.
SAP’s core products are ERP applications.
An ERP application is software that is used to run a company, mapping the business processes of the company into IT (Information Technology).
ERP applications cover all business processes of a company, from finance and logistics to human resources.
They include tools for invoicing, new employee recruitment, and more.
While this is the core of SAP, the company provides other business applications as well.
For example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications are another significant share of SAP’s portfolio.
CRM applications are designed to improve the customer relationships of a company.
This includes marketing, sales, service, and eCommerce (online shops).
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:
- in the cloud, or
- as a hybrid version of both.
On-premise means that the customer installs the SAP applications on the company’s hardware or on the hardware of some third party.
The customer manages their own updates and upgrades to the applications.
Cloud means that the customer does not install the SAP applications on the hardware of the customer or the hardware of some third party.
Instead, SAP runs the applications on their own systems (or third-party systems) and maintains them.
The customer has online access to the applications.
What Is Experience?
There are two definitions of the word:
- practical contact with and observation of facts or events. For example, learning by experience rather than learning by studying a book.
- an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. For example, a trip to the zoo can be a memorable experience.
The term “experience” as it’s used in this context means to have not just theoretical knowledge about something but practical know-how as well.
What Is SAP Experience?
Let’s put the terms “SAP” and “experience” together:
SAP experience means having experience with software from a software manufacturer called SAP; to have experience with one of SAP’s applications.
This is not just theoretical knowledge, but practical know-how gained from actually using it in a business context.
However, since SAP makes a variety of business applications, the exact definition of SAP experience depends on the context of the job listing.
For example, if the job is in finance or human resources, then SAP experience probably needs to include knowledge of an SAP R/3, SAP ECC, or SAP S/4 ERP system.
SAP R/3, SAP ECC, and SAP S/4 are different versions of SAP’s ERP application – SAP R/3 is the oldest and SAP S/4 the most recent one.
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.
If a job listing just says SAP experience is required, then it is crucial to look at the other specifics of the job in order to see what in particular is meant by SAP experience.
It should be possible to figure out which SAP application is to be used in the job and how deep the experience needs to be.
If it doesn’t list specific application knowledge, it’s likely that they don’t need an SAP expert, just someone who has used these applications in some form.
If they’re looking for someone with a high level of familiarity with a particular application, the listing will generally elaborate further.
Functional SAP Experience
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 into the SAP application, you’ll see an input field where you can enter transaction codes, among other things.
For example, a transaction code is “FB03” for the business area finance.
That transaction code opens a mini-application in the overall application where you can see finance documents.
Another transaction code is “PA41” for the business area HR (Human Resources) 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 that show up in each mini-application.
The process of entering transaction codes is similar to opening a website:
If you want to go to a specific website, you enter the address, such as “google.com” into your browser.
Instead of a browser, you’re using the SAP application, and instead of an address, you’re using a transaction code.
The knowledge of what to put into the form or what to change in the form you opened via a transaction is the crucial factor here.
This will be based on knowledge about the company’s process and the business area, such as finance, HR, logistics, sales, marketing, or customer service.
The SAP-related part is simply how to use the software, which is easy to learn.
Non-Transactional SAP Experience
Recently, SAP added cloud computing applications to its portfolio. These are applications that run on hardware that the company using them does not own or maintain.
The cloud computing provider takes care of the hardware and maintenance of the applications and leases the applications to companies.
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.
In the future, there will be less and less transactional usage for the end-user, as 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.
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 you’re in a job that uses SAP systems, simply operating any SAP application can be learned quickly, and as a non-transactional user interface becomes the norm with cloud applications, the learning curve will become even easier.
Therefore, if a job listing only says “SAP experience” and doesn’t elaborate further, don’t write off that job if you haven’t used SAP very much.
Instead, consider contacting the company and asking about what SAP applications the job requires, 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, since the most important thing is being able to fill out the forms correctly.
Therefore, if you have the fundamental skills that the job requires, 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 can quickly learn how to operate the SAP application in your particular business area.