SAP developers are the backbone of any organization that uses SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. They are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and maintaining the SAP systems, ensuring that the software is tailored to the organization's specific needs. They work closely with business stakeholders to understand their requirements and integrate the system with other software and systems, ensuring seamless operations and data exchange.

But why partnering with an SAP development team is crucial for your organization? Let's explore the key responsibilities of SAP developers, why companies need them to help run their operations smoothly, and tips for hiring well-seasoned specialists.

Who are SAP developers?

SAP is a company that provides ERP software to manage business operations and customer relations. The ERP software integrates various departments and functions across a company, such as finance, human resources, and operations, into one complete system. SAP systems allow for greater efficiency, streamlined processes, and better decision-making through real-time data analysis.

SAP consultants and developers specialize in developing, testing, and maintaining SAP systems. They work to tailor the SAP system to the organization's needs. There are functional SAP consultants and technical specialists (SAP or ABAP developers), but also a mix can exist. For reference, ABAP is a programming language created by SAP that helps customize the ERP software. SAP architects integrate the system with other software and systems, ensuring seamless operations and data exchange. Additionally, they are responsible for maintaining and updating the system, enhancing Business Intelligence (BI) and reporting, and ensuring compliance with industry standards.

The role of SAP developers requires a combination of technical and functional knowledge in their development areas. They need to deeply understand the SAP system, the specific industry, and the business processes of the organization they are working with. It allows them to make informed decisions and recommendations on utilizing the SAP system to improve operations.

Why do companies need SAP developers?

Companies need an SAP development team to help them fully leverage the system's capabilities. Without this expertise, companies would be unable to fully utilize the capabilities of the SAP system and optimize their operations. Let’s consider the most important reasons companies should consider hiring SAP developers to enhance their workflow:

  • Tailor the SAP system to the company's specific needs. SAP experts work closely with the business to customize the system's functionalities, workflows, and interfaces to align with the organization's business processes. For example, if a company operates in multiple countries, the SAP system has to be configured to handle multiple currencies, languages, and tax regulations. Such experts are SAP functional consultants, such as FICO or SD specialists, who engage in continuous customization and provide technical specifications. ABAP consultants help with additional development when it cannot be covered via standard SAP functions.
  • Integrate with other systems and software. SAP developers are responsible for integrating the SAP system with the organization's other software and systems. It ensures seamless data exchange and operations across all systems. An organization might have a CRM system like Salesforce, a warehouse management system, and a financial system, all of which need to communicate with the SAP system to function correctly. In such cases, developers provide SAP consulting services, also having specific integration knowledge like SAP Fiori\SAPUI5 and ODATA knowledge. If SAP middleware like PI or CPI is used, the SAP developer can be recognized as an SAP PI\CPI consultant and SAP ABAP expert.
  • Maintain and update the system. It’s crucial to maintain and update the SAP system to ensure it’s running efficiently and according to your business needs. It includes troubleshooting and resolving any issues that may arise. Companies must also stay up-to-date with the latest SAP software releases and perform upgrade and migration tasks to keep the system current. Hiring SAP Basis consultants can be vital for maintenance and updating efforts.
  • Enhance BI and reporting. The SAP development team works to enhance the BI and reporting capabilities of the existing system. It helps the organization gain valuable insights into its operations and make informed business decisions. They can create reports that help managers to track the company's performance, including but not limited to sales and inventory. Regarding those specifics, we refer to SAP specialists who are SAP BI, BO, BW, or BPC consultants. Usually, SAP people working in ERP are different from those who work with SAP BI, BO, and BW. For specific ABAP tasks, like Data Extractors developments, the engagement of SAP BW/BI/BO experts is necessary.
  • Ensure compliance with industry standards. These specialists ensure that the SAP system complies with industry standards and regulations. It helps to protect the organization from legal and financial risks. For instance, they ensure that the system complies with data privacy laws and regulations and meets the requirements of the company's industry. SAP Compliance team can exist for big SAP customers. Those experts act more as QA and usually don’t perform any customization or development but help establish and control SAP use rules.

5 reasons why companies need SAP developers

Read more: Top 12 ERP development companies

Responsibilities and work scope of SAP developers

SAP specialists have numerous responsibilities crucial to successfully implementing and maintaining SAP systems. The primary responsibilities range from customization and configuration to maintenance and specialization in SAP-specific tools. As a whole, the key responsibilities of these specialists include the following:

1. SAP system customization. SAP developers work with business stakeholders to understand their unique requirements and tailor the system to meet those needs. It includes customizing the system's functionalities, workflows, and interfaces to align with the organization's business processes. For example, they can create custom transactions, reports, and user interfaces using ABAP to meet the business's specific needs.

2. SAP system configuration. Experts in SAP software are also responsible for configuring the system to meet the organization's specific needs. It includes setting up the system's functionalities, workflows, and interfaces and configuring security and access controls. They also need to be familiar with the system's standard functionalities and be able to guide the business through the system configuration.

3. SAP integration. SAP generalists are responsible for integrating the SAP system with the organization's other software and systems. It ensures seamless data exchange and operations across all systems. They need to know about SAP middleware products like PI/PO or Cloud Platform Integration to integrate it with other systems, such as CRM, warehouse management, and any other backbone system, including SAP products like Concur or FIeldglass.

4. Maintenance and support. These specialists are responsible for maintaining and updating the SAP system to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently. It includes troubleshooting and resolving any issues that may arise and performing upgrade and migration tasks. They also need to be familiar with the different types of SAP systems, such as ECC or S/4HANA, as well as know how to maintain them properly. The team of such experts for AMS includes both functional consultants and developers for ABAP and/or SAPUI5.

5. Specialization in SAP-specific tools. Developers have to specialize in specific areas of the SAP system, such as ABAP, SAP HANA (an in-memory database platform), SAP S/4 HANA (the latest version of SAP's ERP system), or SAP UI5/Fiori (SAP's user interface framework). These technologies include object-oriented programming techniques such as inheritance, encapsulation, polymorphism, and generics, as well as UI development techniques such as responsive design and mobile optimization. Additionally, specialization in these areas involves understanding how they integrate with other technological directions.

responsibilities of SAP developers

The skill set of SAP developers

SAP experts need diverse skills to design, develop, test, and maintain systems. Some critical skills they need to excel at include the following:

  • Programming languages. ABAP is the primary programming language used in SAP for developing custom functionality, transactions, and reports. It is a proprietary language and is not commonly used outside of SAP. However, knowledge of other languages, such as Java and JavaScript, is vital for integration and Web development. For example, Java is used to develop add-ons and integrations with other systems and in SAP Hybris. In contrast, JavaScript is used for front-end development, such as creating custom UI5/Fiori solutions. There are also a lot of SAP-specific scripting languages used across SAP, such as specific SAPscript, or scripting in XSLT transformations.
  • Data modeling. Knowledge of data modeling concepts and experience with database management systems like HANA, Oracle, or MS SQL Server is essential for designing and maintaining the data structure of the SAP system. Data modeling skills are necessary to understand the data flow and relationships between the tables in the system and how to retrieve the data efficiently, especially regarding SAP BI/BO/BW.
  • Development tools. It’s a must to become familiar with development tools such as SAP Web IDE, SAP Cloud Platform, or ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse to design, develop, test, and deploy the system. These tools provide a development environment relevant to SAP, such as debugging and code analysis. SAP Web IDE and ABAP Development Tools for Eclipse are primarily used for on-premise development.
  • Integration. Knowledge of SAP products like PI/PO or Cloud Platform Integration is needed to integrate the SAP system with other systems, such as CRM, warehouse management, and financial ones. It is critical to be able to exchange data between the systems and to be able to automate business processes that span across multiple systems. Sometimes, when the middleware is not SAP, you need a mature ABAP specialist to cover integration tasks with this MW and SAP ERP. Alternatively, such experts can also integrate SAP with some FTP\SFTP file transfers, which is possible via ABAP and is possible for most SAP Customer Environments on-premise.
  • Reporting and analytics. Experience with reporting and analytics tools such as SAP Crystal Reports, SAP Lumira, or SAP BusinessObjects is vital for creating and maintaining BI and reporting capabilities in the SAP system. These tools allow for creating interactive reports and analyzing and visualizing data from the SAP system. Reporting and analytics are necessary to extract insights and make data-driven decisions.

skill set of SAP developers

Tips for hiring SAP developers

Hiring the right specialists is crucial for successfully implementing and maintaining SAP systems. We’ve hand-picked a few tips to consider when looking for SAP consultants and developers, as follows:

1. Define the specific needs of the company. Before beginning the hiring process, it's vital to specify SAP configuration, integration, and other requirements. This step will ensure that the candidates have the necessary skills and experience to meet those needs. It's essential to clearly understand the SAP system's current state and the areas that need improvement.

2. Look for specific SAP skills and technologies. Once you have defined particular SAP needs, look for specific services and technologies that align with the company's needs. It might include experience with specific SAP modules, programming languages, or integration technologies. Suppose the company needs to integrate the SAP system with a CRM system. In that case, looking for candidates with experience with PI/PO or Cloud Platform Integration is crucial if it is used as middleware.

3. Evaluate technical skills. It’s vital to take the time and evaluate the candidate's technical skills, including knowledge of programming languages and specific experience with previous SAP integrations and customization. If you’re looking for an SAP Cloud migration, focus on this aspect and ensure the candidates can deliver such a service in your business environment. Specialists should demonstrate their abilities and experience through past projects and case studies.

4. Check expertise and review references. The next step is to check the candidate's expertise in the field by reviewing their work history, education, and certifications. Pay attention to the SAP and OpenText-specific certifications, such as SAP and OpenText Silver Partnerships. If you have such a chance, ask for references from previous employers to understand what SAP processes were configured or optimized. It's vital to check the candidate's background and to ensure that they have worked on similar projects and have experience in similar roles.

5. Provide a thorough review and make your choice. After evaluating all candidates, provide a comprehensive review, including their qualifications, skills, and experience. Make sure to take your time and make a well-informed decision. It's essential to evaluate all candidates objectively and to select the ones that best fit your SAP needs.

tips for hiring SAP developers

How an SAP development center drives digital transformation: Case of Metinvest

Metinvest Holding is a global steel and mining company that operates in Europe and North America. According to the World Steel Association, the company is among the world's top 50 largest steel companies. Metinvest Digital is the IT Company in Metinvest Group. It is responsible for overseeing the IT processes in the Group and improving the quality of services provided.

The business challenge faced by Metinvest Holding was to streamline its enterprise content management. To achieve this, the company chose an SAP-endorsed solution, OpenText Extended ECM, as an enterprise content management platform. Metinvest Digital and an independent OpenText integrator N-iX worked together to implement OpenText Extended ECM and integrate it into the SAP environment.

The N-iX team conducted the system upgrade by installing new instances of OpenText Extended ECM for SAP Solutions for the development, testing, and production systems. The team built SAP links that ensured the seamless linking of documents from ECM with business objects. SAP architects at N-iX contributed to rewriting a Property Provider in ABAP in SAP to transfer data to the OpenText Extended ECM system.

As a result of this long-scale project, the cooperation between N-iX and Metinvest DIgital allowed the client’s solution to:

  • Improve system processing speed;
  • Increase the number of documents the system can process;
  • Enhance scalability and flexibility.

Read more: Implementation of OpenText Extended ECM for SAP in Metinvest

partner with a reliable SAP development center

Final remarks

In conclusion, SAP specialists are essential for organizations that use SAP systems to improve their operations. They possess various technical and business skills, including programming languages, data modeling, development tools, integration, and reporting and analytics. Hiring the right technical partners is crucial for successfully implementing and maintaining SAP systems. As the demand for SAP architects continues to grow, it becomes a challenging and rewarding endeavor to strengthen your team with top talent.

Why choose N-iX as an SAP development center?

  • N-iX is a certified SAP development partner, proven by 15+ years of expertise in delivering Professional Services;
  • The company has an excellent track record in Professional Services, with 150+ completed projects in utilities, manufacturing, energy, insurtech, telecom, and more;
  • N-iX has 2,000+ tech experts in delivery centers across the US and Europe, competent not only in SAP expertise but also in Embedded and IoT, Data Analytics, Cloud-native services, DevOps, and AWS Consulting & Development, and others;
  • The company’s portfolio comprises projects delivered for Messer, OpenText, Lebara, Gogo, cleverbridge, and a couple of Fortune 500 companies;
  • N-iX complies with industry regulations and standards crucial for SAP migration, including PCI DSS, ISO 9001, and ISO 27001;
  • CRN has repeatedly recognized N-iX among the leading solution providers in North America in their ratings, including Solution Provider 500 and CRN Fast Growth 150.

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