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Is Your SAP System Holding You Back? The Hidden Costs of Customization

Updated: Jun 4

In the SAP world, there’s a common problem with organizations heavily customizing their systems rather than embracing the robust standard modules and solutions that SAP offers. This practice leads to a host of issues:

  • Increased complexity: Customizations create complex systems that are harder to maintain, support, and upgrade.

  • Deviation from best practices: Tailored solutions often deviate from SAP’s designed best practices, leading to inefficient roundabout ways of achieving core functions.

  • Higher costs: Developing and maintaining bespoke code is expensive in the long run.

  • Upgrade difficulties: Customizations introduce challenges with future SAP upgrades, potentially requiring entire sections of the system to be rewritten.

  • Reduced flexibility: While customizations seem like a flexible approach, they often end up creating rigid systems that are difficult to adapt as business needs change.


The Root Cause: Inadequate Needs Analysis

The root cause is often a lack of thorough needs analysis at the start of SAP implementations. Businesses jump into customizing before fully understanding the capabilities of off-the-shelf SAP solutions. Key factors that contribute to this:

  • Misunderstanding of standard functionality: There’s a lack of awareness or a misunderstanding of the breadth of functionality standard SAP modules offer.

  • Perceived limitations: Companies may perceive standard solutions as lacking features when in reality the needs could be met with configuration or minor process adaptation.

  • Desire for a ‘perfect fit’: Organizations may have a desire to tailor the system to their existing processes rather than adapt those processes to best practices often built into SAP’s standard modules.


Harnessing SAP’s Potential: The Power of Needs Analysis and Solution Mapping

Here’s how to break the cycle:

1. Comprehensive needs analysis: Invest time in a detailed needs analysis that maps desired business processes and outcomes to existing SAP functionality.

2. Explore standard solutions: Critically examine standard SAP modules and products. It’s often surprising how many standard capabilities align with business needs. Here are some specific examples:

  • Trading companies: Many neglect the robust functionality of the SAP Global Trade Services (GTS) module, designed specifically to address the complexities of international trade compliance and management.

  • Transportation companies: Overlook the capabilities of the SAP Transportation Management (TM) module, a comprehensive solution for planning, executing, and settling transportation operations.

  • Car rental companies: Often fail to leverage the SAP Contract and Lease Management (CLM) tool, which streamlines the management of rental agreements, including scheduling, billing, and vehicle lifecycle management.

  • Embrace process re-engineering: Be open to adjusting existing business processes to align with SAP best practices. This often leads to greater efficiency and long-term benefits.

  • Strategic customization: Limit custom development to cases where standard solutions truly cannot meet critical requirements.


Benefits of Standard SAP Solutions

  • Reduced complexity

  • Lower maintenance costs

  • Easier upgrades

  • Leveraging SAP best practices

  • Long-term cost savings


In Conclusion

Embracing standard SAP solutions wherever possible is key to maximizing the value of SAP investments. Conduct a thorough needs analysis and actively explore the vast array of standard solutions and modules before turning to custom development. The potential gain in efficiency, reduced system complexity, and streamlined upgrades are significant benefits not to be missed.


Süleyman Çelik

F&R EWM ECC S/4 HANA ABAP-OO Developer / FIORI / Solution Architect 

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