SAP Basics for Beginners and SAP Job Seekers

Congratulations! You’ve just accepted an offer for a new job. You’re excited, but the company uses this business software it calls “SAP” that you’ve never heard of. Your new employer runs modules and components that address business operations for finance and controlling, asset management, supply chain, sales and distribution, manufacturing, CRM and marketing, and human resources (just to name a few).  


What Is SAP? 

So, what exactly is SAP, you ask? Great question.  


SAP SE is a Germany company that creates software for enterprise resource planning processes, designed to give companies insights into their business processes in data in real time. Many of its customers colloquially call the software they run “SAP,” even though this is the brand name. 


The company was founded in 1972, and SAP’s earliest software focused on financial accounting and eventually expanded to other areas of business over time. Fast forward to 2015. SAP has grown its extensive product suite and capabilities, and has launched a new, centralized ERP system called SAP S/4HANA. SAP S/4HANA essentially acts as the core software of SAP solutions, initially built around a set of robust financials capabilities. This was SAP’s replacement for its predecessor system, SAP ERP (which is also known as SAP ERP Central Component, or SAP ECC). Additional lines of business (LoBs) have been added to the SAP S/4HANA solution since 2015. There are currently nine LoBs available or in development


Since 2020, SAP has been focused on enhancing SAP S/4HANA with tools for reporting and analytics, providing automation options for business processes, and exploring ways to leverage IoT and machine learning technologies. 


What Is SAP Used For? 

SAP specializes in multiple product categories for its business applications, including both solutions and services. 


If you are an accountant, controller, or financial adviser, you may use SAP S/4HANA Finance solutions, which include treasury management, financial planning and analysis, tax management, accounts receivable, and more. 


If your role in human resources incorporates tasks like recruiting and onboarding, payroll, and time management, then SAP SuccessFactors applications might facilitate your daily work. This human capital management portfolio also addresses core HR, employee experience management, workforce planning, HR analytics, and more.  


SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) includes many solutions and services used by developers and data analysts. SAP BTP is used for data and analytics, application development and automation, integration, enterprise planning, and artificial intelligence technologies. SAP Analytics Cloud is a key solution that runs on SAP BTP and is used for data visualization, predicative analytics, and financial planning.  


SAP also offers software solutions for cloud ERP, CRM and customer service, logistics, and intelligent technologies.  


Why Do Companies Use SAP? 

SAP is used by many companies to improve business processes. It offers products suitable for basically any industry you could think of—healthcare, oil and gas, automotive, high tech, and so on. You name it, SAP probably has something for it. They even do sports analytics! Software licenses include individual solution offerings focused on an isolated functional area, all the way to a full-suite platform for companies looking to operate all business processes strictly with SAP software. 


How to Learn SAP 

With this background in mind, now what? You’re at the starting line of a new position and have to tackle an unfamiliar hurdle: working in an SAP system. You have a general understanding of the “what” and “why” of SAP, so now let’s explore the “how.” That is, how to learn SAP and master your focus area.  


Everyone has their preferred way of learning, and there are various avenues to take when approaching SAP, from books and online publications, to trainings and conferences. Below is a list of different learning resources we recommend. 

Official SAP Resources 

The first place you can go to discover SAP learning resources is none other than the SAP website itself. There are a handful of written and audiovisual materials to help you leverage the system and solutions. 


openSAP is a collection of free learning materials developed by SAP that focuses on helping you enhance your knowledge. It includes open online courses, video training, and a podcast. 


The SAP Community is a repository of documents including blog posts, Q&As, event details, and more. Select from over 140 different topic categories ranging from ABAP connectivity and development to Web Dynpro. Similarly, the SAP Developer Center is also available for developers looking for more customized content. 


SAP Learning Hub is a paid, self-service training module that provides subscribers with e-learning courses, live learning sessions, and virtual social rooms.  


These are just a few of the major resources to leverage. To explore more of the SAP learning avenues, check out this blog post here.  

SAP PRESS Resources 

If the book format is your type of learning style, look no further than SAP PRESS. (This is the section where we have to talk ourselves up a little. After all, this is our area of expertise.) We publish more than 50 new titles each year, covering a variety of SAP topics to help readers reach their professional goals. Various series address specific needs of organizations: migration guides for companies moving their data from one system to the next, certification guides for professionals who are preparing for exams, computing books for learners of SAP-adjacent topics, E-Bites that provide information for specific and niche topics, and much more. You can check out the SAP PRESS library in its entirety here. 


We get it: SAP books and trainings can be pricey. If you’re looking for a free, quick alternative to learning, blog posts are a great place to begin.  


The SAP PRESS Blog includes over 500 posts about everything from programming topics like ABAP and SAP Fiori development to logistics topics like materials management and production planning. Our Learning Center also includes links to topic overviews, Q&As with our authors, and video tutorials on how to use SAP software. 


Other online publications include:  

  • ASUG News:  Americas’ SAP User Group puts out web articles exploring different avenues where SAP solutions are being used and how readers can utilize those solutions at their organizations.
  • ERPCorp: This consulting firm publishes blog posts and videos on things related to the Controlling subcomponent of SAP ERP, as well as its SAP S/4HANA counterpart.
  • SAPinsider: This publisher releases content in multiple content, including a magazine, research papers, webinars, videos, and whitepapers.

Keep in mind, we’ve only dipped our toes into the SAP resource pool. There are plenty more print and online publications, trainings, and learning communities to dive into. For an extensive list of the SAP learning avenues, take a look at our 35+ Ways to Learn SAP blog post.  


SAP Certifications 

Okay, fast forward a bit. You’ve got the hang of your new position, and thanks to the countless SAP PRESS books and blog posts you’ve read thoroughly, you’re pretty much a master of your area of SAP...but not officially.  


Not to worry! It’s time to get you certified! SAP offers various certification exams to help experts prove their skills. Being certified by SAP Training provides professional opportunities for individuals, such as promotions or job offers. Not only will candidates gain recognition for their skills, but they’ll also gain the confidence of employers looking for trustworthy and knowledgeable employees.  


An SAP certification is an achievement that prospective employers can verify with digital badges that exhibit an individual’s accomplishments and credentials. 


Because there are many areas and responsibilities pertaining to SAP, there are more than 150 certifications available to test-takers. Here’s a brief overview of the three types of tests: 

  • An associate certification covers the fundamental concepts SAP users and consultants need to know in order to prove basic and broad SAP knowledge.
  • A specialist certification is more specific to a role or integration component that an SAP user or consultant is involved in.
  • A professional certification is for the more advanced SAP users and consultants who require a detailed understanding of SAP and have proven project experience or business process knowledge. 


And now we're back to the present day. You already have a better sense of what SAP is and what it offers, the resources you need to learn SAP, and the next steps for proving the skills you're about to hone. We've provided you with first-step information to SAP, and now it's time to progress by learning and then implementing your skills. So go find the learning resources best for you, and show your company that you’ve mastered your area of SAP! 


SAP: An Introduction
SAP: An Introduction to Next-Generation Business Processes and Solutions

What comes after SAP Business Suite? Can the “new SAP” meet your existing business requirements—and if so, how? This book is your big-picture introduction to how SAP solutions address your day-to-day business and IT processes in the post-SAP Business Suite landscape. Learn about up-and-coming SAP applications, from SAP S/4HANA, to SAP Customer Experience, to SAP IBP. Follow a central business case to get a clear idea of how the new SAP portfolio can work for you, now and in the years ahead!

Learn More
Alyson Gluck
by Alyson Gluck

Alyson Gluck is a marketing coordinator at SAP PRESS where she works with expert authors to promote their publications. When she’s not wearing her marketing hat, she’s somewhere in the Boston area eating brunch, hiking, or talking about filmmaking with anyone who will listen.