SAP Experience: What Does It Mean? (+ Interesting Facts)

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This is about SAP experience.

SAP experience means practical knowledge of SAP software.

So if you want to get a handle on what SAP experience is and how you can get it, then this article is for you.

It’s time for the first step!

Understand SAP Experience

When candidates are being asked to have SAP experience, the company means they have to be familiar with software made by a company called SAP. SAP stands for Software, Applications, and Products in Data Processing—kind of a weird name.

But what is SAP, and how can you get experience with SAP software?

Let’s take a look at this:

  • First, what SAP is
  • Second, what experience is
  • Finally, both combined—what SAP experience means

First, What Is SAP?

SAP is a software company; more specifically, SAP is a software company that makes business software. SAP’s definition:

SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing) SE (Societas Europaea) is a European worldwide operating software company that makes software for the management of business processes suitable for companies of any size and industry.

Five IBM employees started SAP in Germany in 1972. Later it became a European company.

SAP is the #1 ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) player, and the #2 overall business software maker after Microsoft.

Furthermore, SAP is the #3 biggest programming & software company worldwide:

Top Software and Programming Companies Worldwide From 2017 to 2020-100
[Wikipedia]

SAP’s main products are ERP applications. ERP applications map business processes into digital IT (Information Technology). They help companies run their business efficiently and effectively.

ERP applications cover all business processes of a company, from finance to human resources to customer relationship management. They include everything from invoicing to employee recruiting to ticket systems.

77%+ of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system.

[SAP]

SAP offers its applications in a bunch of different environments:

  • On-premise
  • Cloud
  • Hybrid version of on-premise and cloud

On-premise means the customer installs the SAP applications on the company’s hardware or on some third party’s hardware. The customer takes care of the applications like upgrading them.

Cloud means the customer doesn’t install the SAP applications on their hardware or the hardware of a third party. Instead, SAP runs the applications on their own systems (or third-party systems like AWS, Azure, and so on) and maintains them.

The customer can access the applications online.

SAP is a huge company that makes software to manage business processes.

Next up, experience:

Second, What Is Experience?

Here are two definitions of experience:

  1. Practical contact with and observation of facts or events. For example, learning by experience rather than learning by studying a book.
  2. An event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone. For example, a trip to the zoo can be a memorable experience.

That kind of goes without saying.

The word experience as it’s used in SAP means that you have more than just theoretical knowledge about something; you also need to have practical experience as well.

Finally, let’s put SAP and experience together:

All Together Now: What Is SAP Experience?

Let’s combine SAP and experience:

SAP experience means having worked with software from SAP; to have used one of SAP’s applications.

This isn’t just knowledge; it’s experience gained in a business context.

However, since SAP makes a variety of business applications, how SAP experience is defined depends on the job description:

For instance, if the position is in finance or human resources, SAP experience probably includes knowledge of an SAP ERP system such as:

  • SAP R/3
  • SAP ECC
  • SAP S/4HANA

SAP R/3, SAP ECC, and SAP S/4HANA are different versions of SAP’s flagship application—SAP R/3 is the oldest and SAP S/4HANA the newest.

Is the advertised job in sales, marketing, or customer service?

Then the SAP experience probably belongs in one of those:

  • SAP CRM 6.0
  • SAP CRM 7.0
  • SAP S/4HANA for Customer Management
  • SAP Sales Cloud
  • SAP Marketing Cloud
  • SAP Service Cloud
  • SAP Commerce Cloud.

SAP CRM 6.0, SAP CRM 7.0, and SAP S/4HANA for Customer Management are SAP’s on-premise CRM applications that are increasingly replaced with SAP’s new cloud CRM applications. (SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud, SAP Marketing Cloud, SAP Commerce Cloud, and SAP Customer Data Cloud).

If the job description just says SAP experience is required, you should look at what specifically is meant by SAP experience. It should be clear which SAP application is going to be used and how deep the experience needs to be.

If the job description doesn’t mention specific application knowledge, they don’t need an SAP expert, just someone who’s used these applications. Because if they want someone who knows a lot about a certain application, the listing will usually elaborate further.

It Is About Functional SAP Experience

If a job description says SAP experience, then the requirements can’t be too high and can mostly be broken down into two functional categories:

  • SAP Experience with transactions (SAP GUI)
  • SAP Experience with web application (SAP Fiori/SAPUI5)

SAP Experience With Transactions

Some SAP systems require the use of specific t-code (transaction codes). Behind a t-code is the transaction, which is really a mini-application on top of the overall SAP program.

Let’s just get this straight:

After you login on the SAP application (it’s easy like you log into your email account), you’ll see an input field where you can enter t-codes.

The below image shows the input field for t-codes in the SAP GUI (Graphical User Interface)—the SAP GUI is the light blue UI (User Interface) with the buttons and forms. In the top left corner of the SAP GUI under the SAP logo is an input field with a green check mark on the right side of it. This input field is called the command field. That’s where you enter your t-code:

sap_gui_7.60_screenshot
[SAP]

For instance, a t-code is FB03 in the finance area. This transaction code opens a mini-application within the overall application (the SAP GUI) that shows finance documents. Enter the t-code in the input field of SAP GUI, press Enter, and the finance app opens.

Another t-code is PA41 in the business area HR (Human Resources) to change hiring data. Enter it in the input field of SAP GUI, click Enter, and an application opens where you can adjust hiring data.

Transaction codes cover all kinds of business areas, from finance to logistics to HR.

Thanks to experience with SAP transactions and the SAP GUI, you’ll be able to run many SAP applications and do SAP-related tasks.

Anyone can learn that pretty fast.

To put it simply, SAP experience with transactions means being able to open mini-applications via codes and fill out and change the forms in them.

The process of entering t-codes is pretty much the same as opening a website:

You type the address into your browser to go to a specific website. For example, if you want to know how many stars are in the Milky Way, you type Google.com into your address bar, wait until the site loads, and do a Google search.

But now, instead of a browser, you’re using a GUI of SAP, and instead of a URL of a website, you’re using a t-code of a mini-application of SAP.

The knowledge of what to put into the form or what to change in the form that you opened via a t-code is the key here. This will be based on knowledge of the company’s processes and the business area, like finance, HR, logistics, sales, marketing, or customer service.

The SAP-related part is just how to use the software, which is easy to learn. It has to be—otherwise SAP would have done a bad job. Because one of the reasons business software exists is to save you time, rather than making you solve rocket science equations to do your everyday business.

SAP Experience Without Transactions

SAP recently added cloud computing applications to its portfolio. These applications run on hardware that the company which uses them doesn’t own or maintain. Same for the applications themselves: cloud computing providers handle the updates.

The companies lease the applications, but don’t have to do any maintenance.

In general, on-premise applications work with transactions, while cloud apps don’t.

SAP’s cloud computing applications look like websites and are even easier to use than on-premise applications:

sap_fiori_object_page_screenshot
[SAP]

Therefore SAP experience for SAP cloud applications is acquired much faster than for SAP on-premise applications.

However, SAP S/4HANA is a hybrid: it lets you do transactions and run websites at the same time. As a regular user (and not a key user, administrator, or developer), you’ll probably only use the website-like UI.

SAP users will have less and less need for SAP transactions in the future, due to SAP’s plans to deliver a consistent user experience with their applications that looks and feels like websites. So, sooner or later, all SAP applications will be as easy to use as a website. Yay!

How to Get SAP Experience?

Unfortunately, you have to work with an SAP system to gain SAP experience. However, the isolated term SAP experience in a job ad could mean anything.

SAP has a lot of applications in different environments, each requiring different operating skills, especially since SAP ramped it up with cloud applications and a new UI design called SAP Fiori.

However, once you’re in a job that uses SAP systems, operating any SAP application is so easy, and as web-like UI becomes the norm with cloud applications, learning curve becomes even easier.

Therefore, if a job ad only says SAP experience and doesn’t elaborate further, don’t disregard it if you haven’t used SAP very much or at all.

Instead, try contacting the company and ask what SAP applications the job requires, as well as the level of experience needed. That’s a good first impression because you showed interest in the job and didn’t just apply blindly.

Moreover, you showed some knowledge about SAP: there are different applications in different environments, and different levels of experience, like operating experience or functional experience, such as a consultant has, or technical experience, such as a developer has.

If the company says you just need to know how to use SAP applications, you’ll learn that pretty fast, since the most important part is to be able to fill out forms and make sense of the data. If you have the fundamental skills required for the job, such as controlling, marketing, or sales, then the SAP experience requirement shouldn’t stop you from applying.

Even if you didn’t know what SAP was, you can quickly learn how to use the SAP application in your specific business area—get that job!

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