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Thursday, May 24, 2007

SAP Basic Introduction in Details

What is SAP and SAP AG.

SAP AG is a German company founded in 1972 by 5 IBM employees who understood the benefit and the need of an ERP product which can fullfill all the business process needs of an enterprise big or small .
They developed the ERP packaget with the same name SAP and now is among the fourth largest independent software supplier across the world.
Among the various products of SAP AG is SAP R/3 ,which fullfills all the business needs of an organization by providing various applications like

Material Management(MM) ,
Sales and Distribution(SD) ,
Production Planning(PP) ,
Finance and Controlling(FI/CO) ,
Human Resources(HR) among others.

R/3 as it is popularly know is highly customizable and integrated product where all the applications running on it are tightly integrated .
Under SAP provides various web enabled products and services.It is a market leader in client/server enterprise application software and is based on best business practices and helps business achieve cost and competitive advantages.

What is SAP ABAP ?
The SAP R/3 code is written in an interpretive language called ABAP. (ABAP is a German acronym that, loosely translated, means "Advanced Business Application Programming.") ABAP is very similar to COBOL in its syntax. Use of the ABAP language allows SAP customers to extend the functionality of the base product .

SAP Products .
The SAP R/3 application offers end users the ability to run their entire business from a single application vendor. Some SAP customers choose to run their entire enterprise from SAP, while others run SAP only for specific business processes, such as manufacturing or finance. SAP is designed to allow customers to choose their own set of business functions, and it is sold in many configurations--both as specific business functions and as enterprise-wide solutions.
An SAP customer can choose whatever applications meet his site's specific business requirements. In addition, the customer is free to customize his SAP installation, adding new database entities as well as new functionality. For example, a company may use an inventory method that is nonstandard but essential to the company's efficiency; the basic SAP functionality can be modified to accommodate the specific requirements of that inventory method. The result of all of this flexibility is that virtually every SAP installation has its own specific configuration and set of functions. However, there are costs associated with customizing SAP. An organization that makes thousands of customizations to its SAP application may find itself spending millions of dollars to upgrade SAP: when SAP is upgraded, every customization must be identified in the ABAP code, and these changes must be reapplied to the upgraded SAP software, increasing the cost of the upgrade.
SAP products are distributed as applications with functional modules inside each application. Applications are generally focused on particular business functions. The modules within each application perform specific business tasks such as capital investment management, personnel administration, and quality management. The major applications are financials, human resources, and logistics, described briefly in the following sections.
In addition to basic business functions, SAP also offers products in the following areas
SAP Business Intelligence initiative
SAP Supply Chain Management initiative
SAP Customer Relationship Management initiative
SAP Electronic Commerce
SAP Human Resources
SAP Treasury
SAP Real Estate
SAP Environment, Health, & Safety
SAP has also branched out from traditional online transaction processing (OLTP) products into data warehousing with its Business Information Warehouse (BIW) and Supply Chain Optimization, Planning, and Execution (SCOPE) products
Financials applications
The SAP Financials applications contain all of the functionality needed for enterprise-wide financial management. The modules within the Financials applications include the following:
Financial Accounting (FI)
Provides a complete financial accounting solution, including income statements, balance sheets, journals, ledgers, and all areas of financial accounting.
Enterprise Controlling (EC)
Assists in controller tasks.
Capital Investment Management (IM)
Assists finance organizations in their capital investments and tracking.
Controlling (CO)
Assists the controller organization.
Treasury (TR)
Assists with transactions related to the U.S. Treasury.
Human Resources applications
The SAP Human Resources (HR) applications are designed to provide a fully functioning HR system. They include two primary modules:
Personnel Administration (PA)
Assists with all areas of personnel administration, including applicant tracking and personnel history.
Personnel Development (PD)
Assists with training and educational status of employees.
These systems handle all of the mundane HR tasks, such as personnel and payroll, and also a number of more esoteric HR functions, such as seminar and convention management.
Logistics applications
The SAP Logistics applications include SAP's most popular modules. Logistics was the first area of entry for SAP. This includes virtually every area of manufacturing, from the initial acquisition of raw materials to the delivery of finished goods. The modules in this area include the following products:
Materials Management (MM)
Manages raw materials, inventory, and all aspects of goods manufacturing.
Production Planning (PP)
Offers sophisticated tools for planning large production environments.
General Logistics (LO)
Manages logistics for companies that require large-scale deployment of goods and resources.
Sales and Distribution (SD)
Manages the inventory and distribution of finished goods.
Plant Maintenance (PM)
Manages the resources required for large manufacturing plants.
Quality Management (QM)
Captures and maintains quality control for manufacturing environments.
Project System (PS)
Assists with the scheduling of project tasks and interdependencies between tasks.

SAP R/3 Architecture
The R/3 architecture can be seen as consisting of 3 layers.
The three layers are:

Presentation layer
The PC-based GUI interface that is used by the end-user community.

Application layer
The SAP application servers that service requests for data and manage the interface to the presentation layer.

Database layer
The actual DBMS that communicates with the application servers to fulfill their requests for data.
A piece of "middleware" called BASIS links the application to the database and the operating system. BASIS is most commonly associated with the GUI interface to SAP (called SAPGUI), and the BASIS Administrator is an SAP professional who is responsible for configuring the SAP environment, including the GUI screens and the SAP application servers.

SAP end users log into their PCs using SAPGUI, and are connected to a specific application server. This application server has pre-established connections with the Oracle database, and it services all requests for data. As I mentioned earlier, the access language for Oracle data is SAP ABAP. ABAP generates Oracle SQL (Structured Query Language), which is then used to service the end user's request for data. The communication between the application servers and the database, and between the client and the application servers, is TCP/IP.

While SAP is available for many different hardware platforms and operating systems, the majority of SAP systems use Unix-based servers or Windows servers for hosting SAP and the Oracle database.

The SAP skills that are in demand today are :
Functional consultants: Without them business process can't be mapped to SAP so functional consultants in any module will always be in demand for a long time.
ABAP programmers: This skill has good market value and will continue to be around forever because of changes done to existing projects and new developments. Demand for HR ABAP programmers have vanished. But
programmers with experience in multiple modules, ESS, SAP Script, BAPI, and RFC etc. will persist to be in demand.
Human Resource (HR): Specialized knowledge of Payroll Mangement ,Travel and Expenses module, Recruitment, Tax configuration, extremely good Payroll functional consultants are still in good demand.
BASIS consultants: Consultants that have good experience in upgrading new versions, UNIX or Windows NT skill and database administration will be in demand. Role involves installation , recovery , performance tuning, networking , upgradation , user authorizations , archiving etc.
APO (Supply chain)
Business Warehouse (BW): many were thinking BW will be the next hot skill and they were right ! .
Project Management: Customers that are planning to upgrade will need experienced Project Managers & Team leaders to drive the project from scoping and planning all the way through implementation.
Human Resource (HR): SAP 46X version of HR is very user friendly and has many added functionalities. Good
payroll and time functional consultants will continue to be in demand.
ALE/EDI: Very few consultants get opportunity to do ALE, so there is still shortage of expert ALE consultants.

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