SAP® ERP, previously known as SAP R/3®, is a leading enterprise resource planning software developed by SAP AG in Germany. As of early 2013, it is used by about corporate 50,000 customers across 25 industries, 37 languages, and 45 localizations.
The strength of SAP is its online integration across key business functions, such as procurement, sales, banking and accounting. As soon as a warehouse clerk confirms a goods receipt from a vendor, it is immediately shown on a general ledger account. And when the vendor's invoice is entered, SAP automatically compares its price and quantity against the ordered and received ones and based on the result, it either releases it or blocks it against payment. One set of master data (e.g., vendor and customer list, catalogue of materials etc.) is used throughout the system, reducing the need for duplicate maintenance. If you are authorized, it is easy for you to "click through" from one object (e.g., accounting document) to all related information (e.g., original vendor invoice, purchase order, goods receipt, vendor and article master, payment document). This in turn implies, that:
- An error made in one area can easily spread and cause troubles in other areas
- Due to the size and complexity of the whole SAP ERP "package", it is usual that IT professionals specialize on certain parts of it (called "modules"). For example, an expert on Financial Accounting (FI) may not be able to set up Material Management (MM) and vice versa; however, both should be familiar with the integration points of their modules with others.
- A successful implementation and operation requires a close cooperation across business departments and among IT professionals. Each should be aware of the whole process flow and understand how their work impacts on others.
I want to learn more about SAP ERP. Where to start?
- What type of user are you?
- Business user - creates master data and enters business transactions as a part of daily operations, but does not change configuration or programs. Reports errors and requests for enhancements to IT specialists.
- IT specialist - configures the system, designs and develops enhancements as a part of an implementation or production support, based on requirements from business users.
- What area are you interested in? (Due to its size and complexity, SAP ERP is divided into modules, covering various areas of business operations. They generally correspond to business departments and most IT experts specialize in one or more such modules or their parts (sub-modules).)
- Logistics - contains Material Management (MM), Sales and Distribution (SD), Global Trade Management, Compensation Management and Agency Business
- Supply Chain Management - contains Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO), Global Trade Services (GTS), Event Management (EM) and Transportation Management (TM)
- Financials (sometimes referred to as "Accounting") - contains Financial Accounting (FI), Controlling (CO), Enterprise Controlling (EC), Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM), Project System and Investment Management (PS-IM), Flexible Real Estate Management and Banking Applications
- Human Resources
- Cross-application functions such as: Authorizations, ABAP™ programming and ALE (application link enabling, design of interfaces).
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