Whenever my dad opens the ‘Education Plus’ every Monday morning, he says his usual dialog ” Enga parthalum SAP’a than iruku” (Wherever I see, its SAP!). Whenever he says so, I feel proud but at the same time worried about the growing competition there too.This is because I am, for the past 1 month, been on SAP-ABAP training. My friends were quick to ask me whether I got a job in SAP, I grin a bit and say “Nope! I am with a private SAP consultant rather than with the Company named SAP”. I take a chance here to come out with a personal explanation of ‘ What SAP is ? ‘.
SAP stands for ” System Applications and Products in Data Processing”, a biggest software company head-quatered in Walldorf, Germany. It was founded in 1972 as ” Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung ” by former IBM employees, later named officially as SAP AG. Although generally not a famously known company as IBM or M$ is, but it is the fourth largest software company in the world. More information can be found at the SAP’s own webisite SAP.com, their official website.SAP is mainly into the ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning sector, with its leading product SAP R/3. R stands for ‘Real Time Data Processing’ while 3 denotes the ‘3-tier Architecture’ of the product. In a 3-tier architecture, we have 3 components in each tier: Presentation server which forms the front end / GUI, Application server which hosts the main R/3 system and finally, Database server which holds all the database related with the system. This 3-tier architecture helps in making it a multi-user system as one Application server can serve many presentation server and thereby many users can login using the same Application server. Major SAP packages include APO (Advanced Planner and Optimiser), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), HRMS (Human Resource Management Systems, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), BW (Buisness Information Warehouse) and the latest technology platform SAP Netweaver.
More than 28,000 companies run SAP, at over 91,500 locations. SAP users number over 12 million people in more than 120 countries. This is the most general introduction one can get about SAP, I too got it through doing a Wiki .
SAP consist of three types of modules: Functional, Technical and Techno-Functional. Technical Module are ABAP (Advanced Buissness Applications Program) and Basis. The SAP R/3 system is widely written in a Promgramming language called ABAP/4. The “/4” stands for 4th Generation programming language.
Basis deals with the Administration of SAP R/3 system and Networking of the entire system. Functional modules corresponding to various Enterprunal activities such as Human Resource Management, Customer-Relationship Management, Sales & Distribution (SD), Materials Management (MM), Quality Management (QM), Work Flow Management (WF), Financial Accounting (FI), Production Planning (PP), etc.
What is mainly SAP used for ? If ‘ERP’ didn’t give you satisfactory reply, here is the laymen level explanation. An enterprise may have a number of departments with distinct functions, but are related with one another when considering the entire enterprise. Also these departments maintain their own related data in the Database server, either one for the enterprise (for small enterprises) but mostly as a distributed database some synchronized with one another. So, when one of the department needs the other department’s data, then it has to run to the corresponding people in charge. But this is not an healthy behavior as the people may have heavy work loads and can’t be free to help every time. Also, if the management requires the data to take important decisions then it can’t be asking each and every department for these. So, we thereby need a system to manage these data and present them to those who require them, in a way that they are easily interpretable and understandable as crude data are not easy to understand. We therefore have to build a system which enables access as well as manipulation of data from various sources. The answer is a system which can have the entire database access as the back-end, which can update, modify and manipulate these crude data, and produce interactive and meaningful reports which can be understood by the entire enterprise. Such an anser is SAP R/3 System !
Technically, SAP employs a GUI front end in the Presentation server, ABAP/4 in the Application server,
and Database Management Systems (RDBMS) such as Oracle, SQL, etc. as Database Back-ends. Basis forms the main part, which helps the Application server especially the ABAP component to interact with the Database server, as well as aid in hardware interaction,and database management and maintenance.
So being a core-engineering professional, why and how did I end-up with SAP ?? One month ago, I was in a flustered mood without any idea about my career and my future, as my 5 months long endeavors to find a good job didn’t pay me any fruits as i hoped. I came to know about SAP through one of my friends, when it was the first time I was hearing some concrete information about it, though i too used to see the adds in the paper I thought it as some similar technology to Testing. When I made a further enquiry with some of my friends in the software field, though they didn’t know much about what SAP is, but were able to give me with one information that it was one of the highly paid job profiles as well something which had Demand > Supply.
I am always inclined to do something which not many just prefer to do because its not the one that everyone prefers to do or its not the easy way to do. This mind set made me to get impressed once I heard such things about SAP. So our next move was, to personally meet people who work with or train SAP techians to know about what the job is, is it worth to be focused as a career option, whats the scope and future ot the technology, what are the alternatives available, would we able to find job after getting trained as we were just freshers and finally the financial part of it.
In india, only a couple of companies including Seimens is officially authorized by SAP to conduct the SAP Certification Program, which includes a month long training session followed by the Certification examination, for a total fees of around 2.5 lakh rupees. And private unauthorized people who were advertising SAP R/3 training were offering it for around 10,00 – 20,000 rupees. So we had the doubt whether its worth doing the training unofficially and the recognition we would get after the training. We went to about 2 or 3 places who were offering such training but ended up unsatisfactory. At last we made to my current employer who is actually a ‘Real-time SAP Consultant’. The major difference between this and the previous one is that here he takes us as trainees and after the preliminary training for one month they send us to their clients who, based upon our technical skills and knowledge in SAP R/3, offer us Job in their companies as SAP Techians/Consultants. But, after a couple of years or real-time experience we have to take up the SAP Certification Exam, through our employers which will make us Certified SAP Techians. We found this option to be interesting and decided to make a GO!
As I from a technical background with a programming intuitive as well having a desire to do an MBA sometime after gaining real-time experience, I was suggested to take-up and get trained in ABAP/4 . Now I am at the end of the basic training in ABAP/4, while the employee recruiting me will provide me additional real-time training as per the projects I am put in or as per their requirements.
When someone asks me whether I would suggest SAP for those job-seeking freshers, I ask one question : Are looking for some software job in a big MNC ? If the answer is “Yes!” then, my advice is don’t take SAP. Though many software companies do put people in ERP side, but not many AFAIK are in SAP. Second, if u don’t have interests in moving into more a managerial side, but in hardcore programming then SAP wouldn’t be the better choice. This doesn’t mean SAP is going to be a much managerial kind of job. But it requires you to understand the functions of various departments, the managerial terminologies and methodologies as well work with managerial level people, as your main job as ABAP professional will be to design functional modules as per the needs of the various functional people. One real positive side of SAP R/3 is that, if you are a skilled SAP Consultant (Functional / Techno-functional) or Techian (ABAP/4 BASIS ) then you will be among the highly paid professionals in the Organization. B-)
Note: Getting trained by SAP authorized institutions like Seimens will be the best way to get trained in SAP, where you would be taking up the certification examination and on passing will be a ‘Certified SAP R/3 Professional’. I at no time suggest getting trained unauthorized, though I am doing one, because I am getting on-job training for their needs rather than a-promise-made-to-placement. But, to sign-up for Seimens conducted training/examination you should have either completed either 2 years of Real-time experience or should be sponsored by your employer.
Note: This is to inform you that the *am not a SAP Consultant or a SAP course advisor*. Please stop asking the author of this article about guidance/advice on SAP courses. The author has been out of SAP domain for the past 2 years. Please stop spamming the author!