SAP and SAP Modules: A Complete Guide

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Have you always wanted to know what SAP is about but can’t find a short and complete explanation? You’ve come to the right place! This article answers the questions about SAP and SAP modules from the perspective of a freelancer! 

  1. What is SAP?
  2. How popular is it and why?
  3. What is SAP?
  4. Why would I want to look into SAP as a freelancer?
  5. What else do I need to know to get started with SAP?
  6. How do I get into it?
  7. SAP modules
    1. SAP Basis
    2. SAP ABAP
    3. SAP FI
    4. SAP CO
    5. SAP SD
    6. SAP MM
    7. SAP PP
    8. SAP HCM
    9. SAP QM
    10. SAP PS
    11. SAP HANA & S4/HANA
    12. Other products outside of ERP

    What is SAP?

    SAP is a software package for ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning. The acronym itself stands for “Systems, Applications and Products”. That’s very broad and doesn’t really tell you a lot though. Or does it? 

    The fact is, SAP is actually a very broad framework which allows you to do almost anything connected with your business – accounting, customer relationships, sales, inventory, HR, resource management, the list goes on and on. But you don’t necessarily have to use every component of the puzzle – the good thing about SAP is that it can be tailored to the preferences of individual clients so that it suits their business.

    How popular is it and why?

    Here are some numbers that show you just how crazy popular SAP software is. According to INUI, $16 trillion of consumer purchases worldwide go through SAP systems. In addition, SAP has 101,450+ employees in 145+ countries as of 2020. 

    SAP has been a number one name in its market for quite a while now. It can thus be intimidating, especially to smaller to medium businesses. To handle that, many hire SAP consultants. This is where you can come in.

    Why would I want to look into SAP as a freelancer?

    There are several reasons for considering SAP as your freelancing field. It is in high demand and has been for a while. Unlike other fields of expertise, there is no clear way towards educating yourself as a SAP freelancer, e.g. little to no availability of university courses. 

    SAP is also a dream come true for slowly building up your experience. There is a lot of variety – companies from virtually every market use it for different things, working with different kinds of modules. This gives you, the freelancer, a lot of freedom, a huge amount of network opportunities and the space to grow.

    Last but not least, good SAP consultants are among the highest paid freelancers. According to our last year study, freelancers working in the SAP field charged $ 110 /hr. on average and were placed in the second place on rates by area of expertise.

    Hourly Rates By Area Of Expertise
    Hourly Rates By Area Of Expertise

     >> Find freelance SAP projects!

    What else do I need to know to get started with SAP?

    SAP is something you’ll have to constantly learn and improve upon, so be prepared for that. 

    Additionally, there might always be the nagging thought in your head that SAP’s downfall can end your career. It’s very unlikely, but not entirely unreasonable. Infor, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle are all popular ERP’s that might offer some good synergy effects if SAP doesn’t work out for you after a while.

    We already mentioned modules – think of them as parts of SAP. Most freelancers pick a couple which they focus on – doing sales, HR and manufacturing all at the same time is extremely unlikely. How do you pick one? Your previous working experience is a good start since it might help you understand some modules.

    How do I get into it?

    Because of the popularity of SAP there are a ton of resources out there to get you started. If you’re into self-training, you’ll find it. If you want to go the official route, you can also do it. There are probably a bunch of offline training courses in your area. If not, there are definitely a lot of online ones.

    In short, if you want to start building a career as a SAP freelancer, you can do it. Just make sure it’s the thing you want by talking to other people in the market and reading up online on both success and failure stories. You can learn from both!

    📖 Diary of a SAP Consultant: How to become a freelancer in SAP?

    SAP modules

    If you’re completely new to SAP, you might ask yourself what modules are. Think of SAP as a broad framework which has different components for virtually all companies and fields. 

    Whether it’s financial management and planning, project development or human resources – SAP has almost everything a business needs. However, many fields will require some particular knowledge, in the best case from your previous job and/or a SAP certification.

    To help you decide what you want to learn, we’ve comprised a list of some of SAP’s best-known modules:

    #1 SAP Basis

    SAP Basis is the backbone of the whole framework and as such is highly sought after. Consultants who are in the SAP Basis field are the people who patch, install, debug and troubleshoot any technical problems. With some programming knowledge, this area should be easier to get into.

    #2 SAP ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming)

    ABAP is essentially the programming language for developing any additions to SAP. It is the second essential skill that any company using SAP will look for. As such, ABAP consultants are always in high demand and will be as long as SAP is relevant. You can’t learn ABAP as you go, so don’t expect to find a job without having any experience or certificate. Coding and programming skills will definitely be of use for learning this module.

    #3 SAP FI (Financials)

    Moving on to the modules centred on business, financials is one of the biggest ones out there. It is designed to do reports, manage and monitor the financial flow within a business. Having experience in accounting or a degree in Economics/Business will help you grasp the way FI is built.

    To cover the different processes within the financial area, the SAP FI module has different subcomponents such as:

    • Accounts Payable (AP)
    • Accounts Receivable (AR)
    • Taxes (TAX)
    • Bank Accounting (BL)
    • General Ledger (GL)

    #4 SAP CO (Controlling)

    The SAP CO module supports the coordination, monitoring, and optimization of all the processes in a company. This module is primarily responsible for managing costs and profits and required for financial support.

    Some of the SAP CO subcomponents are:

    • SAP CO EC (Profit Centres)
    • SAP CO OM (Expense control)
    • SAP CO PC (Cost control)
    • SAP CO PA (Income Account)

    This SAP module allows the company to know if they’re adjusting to the budget.

    #5 SAP SD (Sales & Distributuion)

    Sales and Distribution is another very popular module which will benefit from a general business experience or degree. The SAP SD module is all about tracking what your customers want and how you can best deliver it to them. 

    Stocking, restocking and managing prices across different regions – if that sounds like your jam, go for SD!

    The SD module has different submodules:

    • Basic functions and data in SD (BF) – include PR, EC, CM, AS
    • Sales (SLS) – including FT, BIL, EDI
    • Shipping (LE) and Transport (TRA)

    The SD module also helps to provision or manage different prices in different regions. As with the FI module, having previous experience in business and/or logistics can be very helpful in specialising in this component.

    #6 SAP MM (Material Management)

    Materials management is a module that helps companies and enterprises with material management, inventory management, and warehouse management. 

    The SAP MM module includes purchase planning, invoice verification or merchandise distribution. Among the subcomponents of MM are: Purchasing (PUR), and inventory management (IM).

    #7 SAP PP (Product Plannning)

    This module supports production planning and manufacturing process management. The objective is to guarantee the manufacture and delivery of products according to demand.

    It allows managing manufacturing on order, by batch, or the integrated management of supply chains.

    The submodules within the SAP PP module are:

    • SAP PP MRP – Material Requirement Planning
    • SAP PP SFC – Production Order
    • SAP PP KAB – Kanban Manufacturing
    • SAP PP REM – Repetitive Manufacturing
    • SAP PP PI – Industrial Processes

    #8 SAP HCM (Human Capital Management)

    HCM is the SAP module for human resources. SAP HCM allows the management of personnel and related processes: payroll, vacation and attendance management, personnel expenses, etc.

    In addition to the personnel on the payroll, it also allows managing the retention of personnel with personal development, workshops, trips, etc.

    This module is key for recruiters and talent selectors, so having experience in this field can be useful to work on this SAP module.

    The key submodules in SAP HR are:

    • Time control and payroll calculation (OP)
    • Organisation Management (PA)

    #8 SAP QM (Quality Management)

    The SAP QM module allows you to manage and control the quality of the supply, sales, production and maintenance processes.

    It also allows you to control the quality of the materials or to make controls in search of errors or defects, for which it is a useful module in the audit activities.

    The functions of the Quality Management (QM) module are complemented by other integrated application components of the SAP system (for example: MM or PP).

    #9 SAP PS

    As the name suggests, PS is made to support projects. From planning the workflow itself to splitting people up into groups and teams, PS is a broad management tool. It also helps you allocate money and other resources towards certain project goals. 

    Your general experience managing projects as a freelancer can come in handy here, but as a PS consultant you’ll have to implement that knowledge on a (probably) much larger scale.

    #10 SAP HANA & S4/HANA

    SAP HANA is an in-memory database and platform that can be deployed on premises or in the cloud.

    SAP HANA is a combination of hardware and software, integrating different components such as SAP HANA database, SAP SLT (System Landscape Transformation) server, SAP HANA direct extractor connection, and Sybase replication.

    HANA has unprecedented adoption by SAP customers and expert S/4HANA consultants are currently in high demand.

     Funcional SAP Modules And Technical SAP Modules
    Funcional SAP Modules And Technical SAP Modules

    Other products outside of ERP

    As we mentioned at the start of this article, SAP’s portfolio is currently not limited to its ERP products. So freelancers in SAP can specialise in the implementation of other products.

    Cloud solutions 

    This is one of the trends that SAP has joined and that many companies are adopting. The  cloud service is therefore a good niche to work as a freelancer with HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) or also a public one such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

    Great opportunities also exist with SAP SuccessFactors, the core of the Human Capital Management (HCM) or Hybris Cloud offerings.

    Another very important topic when talking about cloud solutions will be security and cloud-to-cloud-to-ground integrations with HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).


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    Big Data and Advanced Analytics (BW)

    SAP BW and Business Objects are two other SAP products that are in high demand in the freelance market.

    SAP BW provides features and tools that enable companies to report and analyse business data for competitive advantage. In addition, integration with SAP BusinessObjects enables efficient use of interfaces in the analytics engine.

    With big data, new requirements arrive as the data must be analysed with more flexibility and in real time. And for that, companies need a migration from BW to HANA with BW/4HANA.

    As you will see, the potential of SAP from the freelancer’s point of view is very interesting. SAP as a company is very strong and invests heavily in innovation, bringing out new products as needs arise.

    Did we miss a module you wanted to know about? Ask us and your fellow freelancers in the comments below the article!

Viktor Marinov

Viktor is the voice behind the freelancermap blog. Every week he comes up with helpful hints, checklists, and guides for freelancers and independent workers. If you would like to know how to find remote jobs online or how to niche yourself as a freelancer, don't miss his freelancer tips!

By Viktor Marinov

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