It’s no exaggeration to say that the world runs on SAP. According to the company, 94% of the world’s largest companies are SAP customers, while 99 of the largest 100 companies in the world are S/4HANA customers.

But while SAP solutions are the backbone of our economy, no one ever accused them of being overly agile. Although SAP indeed offers ways to configure and customize the system, they tend to fall short in meeting the changing requirements in the current world we live in. As you’re most likely aware, competitive pressures, new market demands, and the pandemic have made business agility more important than almost anything else. Customers, partners, and employees won't be able to tolerate systems that don’t match their own requirements.

For example, if your SAP business process isn’t designed to meet the needs of a newly mobile employee in the field, you risk either making their jobs harder or experiencing low employee engagement with your SAP solutions. Either issue will increase the complexity or cycle time of the business process, or reduce the return you get on SAP’s high total cost of ownership.

Looking to modernize your SAP system? Here’s how we can help  

To meet the requirements for agility in business processes, the need to customize and modernize your existing SAP system is a fact of life. However, you are facing a daunting challenge. Do you migrate to the new platform, or can you squeeze out more value from what you already own?

What other options do you have? Sales may be asking for a new UI or refreshed user journeys, while operations needs a dashboard to understand what’s going on with all the systems connected to the business process besides just SAP. So where should you start?

In this blog post, I’ll show you three methods to remove the complexity from SAP customization using a low-code development platform.

3 Ways to Customize Your SAP System

There are three ways you can approach your SAP customization effort: extend, refactor, or rebuild. Let’s look at each option to see which is right for you.

1. Extend SAP


If your business is an established SAP user running mature processes in your SAP systems, it often makes the most sense to extend your SAP applications and business processes to add new capabilities or user journeys that address your urgent business needs.

By using a low-code development platform, you can create optimized user interfaces, applications, add-ons, and processes that leverage your SAP data without making any changes to the underlying SAP solution. The applications you create can be as simple or complex as you like, can be customized to the exact needs of specific users or use cases, and are easily accessible on the web or through mobile devices with no extra development for mobile required.

2. Refactor SAP


Refactoring SAP involves taking a business capability approach and moving to a more composable model for building your new applications. This means independently and systematically integrating data and processes with other systems of records to create new solutions that use SAP as the base for the process. By re-envisioning your use of SAP one component at a time, you can eventually modernize your legacy SAP system to reflect the way your organization works now.

A low-code platform can help you refactor SAP by allowing you to build and incorporate these new systems without impacting the rest of your underlying SAP structure, helping you bridge the gap.

3. Rebuild SAP


If you are preparing to migrate to S/4HANA, you may be concerned about the effort it will take to move all of the customizations you’ve built. In addition, you may be hesitant to rebuild them in SAP; after all, if you have to migrate once, who’s to say you won’t have to migrate again, once more adding more work to your overburdened IT Staff.

A low-code development platform allows you to build your customizations outside of SAP. Not only is this approach cheaper and less complex, but it keeps the SAP core clean so that the next migration goes off as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Which Is the Right Approach to Customize SAP?

There is no one correct approach for every organization — only an approach that is right for your specific business needs.

Regardless of which approach you choose — extend, refactor, or rebuild — a modern application development platform can open up opportunities for your business to leverage SAP so that you can improve your ROI and justify your TCO.

With a modern app dev platform, you can:

  • Create new omnichannel experiences that would be almost impossible to deliver using your SAP tooling alone.
  • Update and deliver SAP in a user-friendly front-end to employees, customers, and partners so you can create an incredible amount of value.
  • Do so quickly and without disrupting current applications or incurring technical debt, all while working with the developers you already have instead of bringing in expensive SAP development experts.
  • Combine data sources and functionality across your different platforms for new opportunities, such as integrating your SAP ERP and Salesforce CRM application into one mobile experience for your field team, while future-proofing your customizations regardless of SAP updates.

As a leading high-performance low-code development platform, OutSystems is proven to help companies of all sizes across every industry make the most out of SAP. A majority of OutSystems customers connect and integrate with SAP, making us the SAP extension experts. And with the recent launch of Integration Builder, it’s never been easier to connect your SAP data sources to create new applications.

Our low-code platform removes the complexity from upgrading your user experiences, rebuilding your SAP customizations as you migrate to S/4HANA, and integrating with other systems of record to create new end-to-end business processes.

To take the next step in modernizing SAP, watch the “Accelerate Innovation as an SAP-based Company” webinar on-demand to see a live SAP/OutSystems demo, as well as learn about a real-world success story of a renowned beverage and consumer goods organization that modernized SAP with OutSystems.