Must you write your own code to get SAP to work?

For a couple of decades, attendees have said in class:

“Hey, our system doesn’t work like this!”,

just as I am performing a demo of some SAP functionality in class.

By asking a few standard questions, we can usually determine that the User is experiencing some form of User exit, “Z” program, screen mode or special interface to a legacy system that is inevitably included in their interface with SAP. (Most don’t even know that SAP supplies multiple “Blank” fields that a configurator and just name, define and 90% of the work is done, saving everyone trillions of wasted Project funds!”

Why the exit? Why the code. Many times it turns out that if the Consultant had a better understanding of how the SAP configuration worked, that any special code would not have been necessary. In many cases, it is just easier to write code, then to try and learn all of the SAP functionality. That would require SAP training and a better understanding of the system. I usually respond ironically Before someone says SAP can’t do this or can’t do that, make them prove it!

I am never really sure how someone would retain their integrity by trying to prove something them really didn’t know anyway, but at least I am trying to get people to better understand the environment they are supposed to know. Many Configuration partners (bless their souls) have wonderful ABAP and code writing skills, but little to no business acumen.

They just don’t know how a business works. So using the Project specs, they write out some code to solve a problem that could have probably been handled in configuration.

One of my best examples was when I was in class using the SAP Report to Report interface (standard functionality) in my report and linking a Sales Order view transaction code to a standard sales report. This was to allow the user to review what the Customer had purchased and then “drill-down” to the Sales document reported in summary. Standard functionality. Took my five minutes to write the report in front of class. A student loudly protested that I was using previously created exits to display these transaction and I was making it look to easy!. They should not expect to find this functionality on their home SAP systems.

I gently disagreed and reconstructed the report and drill-down with everyones attention. The student left the room and we could hear her call her office and ask what was going on. Sheepishly in a few minutes, she returned to the room and told the classroom that her configuration partners had 3 people working for 2 months to “develop” this standard functionality.

She apologized.

But it really was not her fault. She was there to learn and she did. The Partner should have been better informed, better trained!

I have ALWAYS recommended that Project Teams question every user exit, code, Z program, whatever, BEFORE they accept that this is the only answer.

There are many places to ask your question including members of your ASUG group (you are not the only one who has this procedure, no matter how different you think you are!), your assigned Platinum Consultant, and on and on.

Remember this is code you will own and maintain for years to come. Make sure you need it! Chances are that you are really paying big bucks to help train that 3rd party consultant and they just don’t know the big picture until the end of your project.

I am an Instructor. No doubt! But I know that the money spent to properly train your Project Team and the End Users, will be dollars well spent today and in the future. And for heaven’s sake, don’t look for the lowball estimate! Get references, talk to the Instructor, and review the material! Make sure you know what you are buying.


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