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9 Most Important SAP Full Forms Explained – Do You Know Them?

Wooden letters in a wooden box.

Besides those 9 SAP full forms, there is a full-fledged SAP acronyms list with 800 SAP full forms which continuously grows.

SAP, ERP, R/3, ECC, S/4, HANA, ABAP, CRM, SAP UI5 – these are the 9 most important SAP full forms. Plus, to each full form an explanation. From what SAP stands for through what is the meaning of SAP ERP to what HANA means.

Full Form of SAP

The SAP full form is German originally – the SAP full form in German is Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung. Luckily for SAP, the full form of SAP works out in English as well – the SAP full form in English is Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing.

But the SAP full form was changed in 1976 to what it is today – when SAP was founded the full form was in German Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung. The acronym’s former full form does not work out in English well: System Analysis and Program Development.

At the beginning of SAP, the name SAP was not just the name of the company itself but also a synonym for its central software product – an integrated standard business software package called R (Real-Time) and later R/1 (Real-Time 1 Tier).

Event today some refer with SAP to SAP’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software which newest version is called S/4 (Suite 4). But SAP offers besides its ERP applications a lot more – for example, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.

The SAP product portfolio is continuously growing – from 1 to over 340. Therefore, SAP as a synonym for SAP’s ERP applications becomes less and less due to the need for differentiation.

5 former IBM (International Business Machines) employees founded SAP in the year 1972. They were all from the German IBM AI department and worked on an enterprise-wide system standard software.

They decided to leave IBM and started SAP instead of abandoning the system after they could not agree with IBM about who would work with whom in the project. To leave IBM turned out to be not the worst idea.

SAP is now the market leader in ERP software and 2nd placed after Microsoft in the market for business applications by revenue in 2017.

There is a what SAP is and the SAP software evolution to dive deeper into SAP and its history.

Full Form of SAP ERP

The ERP full form is Enterprise Resource Planning.

A definition of ERP is: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integrated management of core business processes, often in real-time and mediated by software and technology.

To put it more simple: ERP is software and hardware to run a company.

SAP ERP is a synonym for the central software product of SAP – its ERP. SAP’s ERP evolved from the so-called R/1 over R/2 to R/3 and ECC, to now S/4. However, to use the synonym SAP ERP becomes less and less common.

That is because of the abundance of products which SAP added to its portfolio. It is necessary to differentiate precisely between each product to communicate what is meant.

For example, there is an S/4 HANA on-premise, and there is an S/4 HANA in the cloud. Both are SAP ERP systems. Or it exists even hybrid versions which using both variants.

Furthermore, two other SAP ERPs are SAP Business ByDesign for medium-sized and SAP Business One for small-sized companies.

Plus, many companies have not upgraded from ECC to S/4 yet. Therefore, to refer to a system with SAP ERP would lead right to the question: Which SAP ERP?

Hence, the SAP ERP full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Enterprise Resource Planning.

Full Form of SAP R/3

The R/3 full form is Real Time 3 Tier.

R/3 is an ERP software developed by SAP. SAP ERPs incorporates the key business functions and processes of a company.

The Real Time of R/3 is because of the following reason: IBM stored data on punch cards mechanically when 5 former IBM employees founded SAP in the year 1972. On the contrary, SAP stored data via a user interface electronically in a database – Real Time.

The 3 Tier of R/3 is because of the three-tier architecture which R/3 uses. An R/3 system has 3 layers:

  1. Presentation layer
  2. Application layer
  3. Database layer

The presentation layer provides the interface to the user, the application layer processes the business logic, and the database layer stores the business data. Each layer is a different system.

Before R/3, there were R/1 and R/2. There is a what SAP is, which takes a look at the SAP software evolution as well.

SAP R/1

R/1 (Real Time 1 Tier) was released in the year 1973. At first, R/1 was a financial accounting system. Later it served as the cornerstone in the continuous development of further software modules for the system such as HR (Human Capital Management).

R/1 was running on the DOS operating systems on-site of the customers. It had only one tier: The presentation, application, and database were all combined in one layer and therefore system.

SAP R/2

R/2 (Real Time 2 Tier) was released in the year 1979. R/2 expands the capabilities of R/1 to other areas, such as material management and production planning.

R/2 runs on mainframe computers and has two tiers: The presentation layer was separated from the application and database layer.

SAP R/3

R/3 (Real Time 3 Tier) was released in the year 1992. R/3 replaced later the mainframe computing of R/2 with the three-tier or client-server architecture.

Hence, the SAP R/3 full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Real Time 3 Tier.

Full Form of SAP ECC

The ECC full form is ERP Central Component or Enterprise Core Component. It was named ERP Central Component, but recently, SAP mentions it as Enterprise Core Component as well.

The ECC was released in the year 2004 as ECC 5.0. ECC replaced R/3. The latest version is 6.0, and this was released in 2006. Since then it has been updated by enhancement packages. The most recent enhancement package 8 was released in the year 2016.

ECC has a three-tier architecture as R/3. The successor of ECC is S/4.

Hence, the SAP ECC full form is Systems, Applications, and Products
ERP Central Component or Systems, Applications, and Products Enterprise Core Component.

Full Form of SAP S/4

The S/4 full form is Business Suite 4. S/4 was released in the year 2015 and is the most recent version of the SAP ERP systems. S/4 runs only on a HANA database. Therefore, S/4 appears often as S/4 HANA or SAP S/4 HANA.

The SAP S/4 HANA full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Business Suite 4 High-Performance Analytic Appliance.

S/4 is simpler and faster in comparison to the previous SAP ERP generations. Plus, it adds a lot of new features. That is all possible due to the underlying HANA database.

S/4 can be deployed on-premise like all SAP ERP generations before but also in the cloud or through a hybrid model of on-premise and cloud.

SAP entered the world of cloud computing recently and has rapidly built up a full-fledged cloud computing portfolio.

The 4 in S/4 might have different meanings:

  • 4th generation of SAP’s ERP
  • 4 as literally for: S 4 HANA = S for HANA
  • 4 tier architecture in the sense of an additional tier through cloud applications: cloud, presentation, application, and database

Hence, the SAP S/4 full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Business Suite 4.

Full Form of SAP HANA

The HANA full form is High Performance Analytic Appliance.

HANA is a relational database management system. HANA is in-memory and column-oriented. The primary function of HANA is that of a database server: To store and retrieve data as requested by applications.

But HANA can do more than being a super fast database due to its in-memory and column-oriented design: HANA is capable to perform advanced analytics and to extract, transform and load.

Plus, HANA includes with HANA XS (HANA Extended Application Services) an in the database layer embedded application server.

Hence, the SAP HANA full form is Systems, Applications, and Products High-Performance Analytic Appliance.

Full Form of SAP ABAP

The ABAP full form is as SAP German originally. ABAP stood in German for Allgemeiner Berichtsaufbereitungsprozessor. Translated to English, it is Generic Report Preparation Processor.

Later ABAP was renamed to Advanced Business Application Programming.

ABAP is a programming language for and by SAP and was released in the year 1983. It was named in the first place Generic Report Preparation Processor because the language was only capable of programming reports. ABAP could not do any database changes.

But ABAP has been upgraded and is upgraded continuously – for example, it is now not only capable of doing database changes but is object oriented as well.

The newest SAP ERP version S/4 uses ABAP as well although less than in the previous ECC. But likely it is never possible to say SAP without ABAP.

Hence, the SAP ABAP full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Advanced Business Application Programming.

Full Form of SAP CRM

The CRM full form is Customer Relationship Management.

A definition of CRM is: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the core business strategy that combines internal processes and functions, and external networks, to create and deliver value to targeted customers at a profit. It is grounded on high-quality customer-related data and support by information technology.

To put it more simple: CRM is software and hardware to improve the customer relationships of a company.

The first SAP CRM software was an embedded module of the SAP R/3 ERP. It was called Sales and Distribution (SD) and was released in 1992. SAP released its first stand-alone CRM application called SAP CRM 2.0 in 2000.

The SAP CRM 2.0 evolved into SAP CRM 5.0, SAP CRM 6.0, and SAP CRM 7.0.

SAP’s most recent CRM products are:

  • SAP Marketing Cloud
  • SAP Commerce Cloud
  • SAP Customer Data Cloud
  • SAP Sales Cloud
  • SAP Service Cloud
  • SAP S/4 HANA for Customer Management

The CRM market overtook the ERP market in 2017 in terms of revenue and is since then the biggest software market. Recently, SAP the market leader in the ERP market put the CRM market in its primary focus or as the CEO of SAP Bill McDermott said it in 2018:

“We’re going to turn up the jets, and we’re going after CRM with everything we have.”

The future of the SAP CRM market seems to lie in the cloud – Salesforce as the market leader in CRM offers only cloud computing since its founding in 1999. Finally, SAP recognized that and recently ramped up its cloud computing portfolio.

Hence, the SAP CRM full form is Systems, Applications, and Products Customer Relationship Management.

Full Form of SAP UI5

The UI5 full form is User Interface 5.

SAP UI5 was announced in 2013 and is the newest user interface of SAP. More and more SAP applications using SAP UI5. Besides SAP UI5 exists a free, open-source variant of SAP UI5 which is called OPEN UI5.

Modern applications consists of three layers:

  • on the top is the client that contains the user interface
  • in the middle is an application server
  • on the bottom is the database

SAP UI5 is part of the top layer of an application – it is the technology of the surface which the end user sees and uses.

Besides SAP UI5, there is Fiori. Fiori describes design guidelines for SAP UI5 – how SAP UI5 is supposed to look like. Therefore, SAP UI5 is the technical part and Fiori the determining factor of the optical part of the newest SAP user interface.

SAP aims with SAP UI5 and Fiori to provide end users with a consistent user interface for all SAP applications – SAP UI5 works on desktop computers and mobile devices as well.

Hence, the SAP UI5 full form is Systems, Applications, and Products User Interface 5.


All used acronyms and their full forms are in this ultimate SAP acronyms list alphabetically ordered.

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