December 01, 2023

How to Tailor SAP S/4HANA Cloud to Your Needs: 3 Categories of Extensibility

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Blog > How to Tailor SAP S/4HANA Cloud to Your Needs: 3 Categories of Extensibility


Many of today’s leading cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are built on an “adopt, not create” methodology.

That means the ERP publisher developed best practices that eliminate the need for blueprinting and built them into the solution—reducing implementation time significantly.

Unlike other ERP providers, SAP—a technology pioneer—doesn’t believe in one-size-fits-all, even with the “adopt, not create” mindset.

With SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition (SAP S/4HANA Cloud), a consumer products company won’t get the same ERP solution as a professional services company—but from day one, both will run on the tried, tested, and proven standards for their industries.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a modern, intelligent ERP solution that streamlines operations, improves decision-making, and keeps businesses competitive in an ever-changing market. Its cutting-edge technology provides real-time and predictive analytics and harnesses the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, empowering businesses to do more with less.

Even though SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a powerful, ready-to-run ERP solution, businesses often wish to tailor it to their needs—anything from adding a company logo to a purchase order or integrating the ERP solution with an eCommerce platform.

This type of extensibility isn’t an issue with on-premises ERP solutions. When the solution runs on a business’s in-house hardware, the business has access to the development layer used to design and build the software. So, an IT professional can extend or tweak the ERP solution to meet a particular need.

However, this wasn’t the case when ERP solutions evolved into software as a service (SaaS) offerings.

“An initial hiccup with the cloud was the lack of extensibility,” says Ijlal Naqvi, senior director of SAP Cloud Solutions at Vision33. “Original equipment manufacturers couldn’t afford to expose development layers because these ERP solutions were hosted for multiple customers in shared environments—among other technical reasons. A development change by one company could cause unwanted changes for other customers.”

The need for extensibility wasn’t going away, so SAP met the demand in three ways.

Here’s an overview of SAP S/4HANA Cloud’s three categories of extensibility.

Key User Extensibility

This simple extensibility allows a business user to make changes within their SAP S/4HANA Cloud environment—without a computer science degree or coding experience.

Users can do things like design reports, define sorting criteria, or schedule reports to be exported from the system and emailed to a customer on a particular date. This also includes building specific rules and controls such as workflows, schedules, and exception-handling procedures.

This option has significantly empowered business users to design and develop their own requirements in the system without depending on IT or solution consultant expertise.

Side-By-Side Extensibility

This extensibility allows the extension to reside outside the ERP solution while adhering to custom requirements. For example, you can integrate SAP S/4HANA Cloud with any solution—SAP or not.

A company can integrate SAP S/4HANA Cloud with SAP Concur so its traveling salespeople who don’t have access to SAP S/4HANA Cloud can enter their expenses in SAP Concur. Integrating the two systems moves all approved expenses and travel requests into SAP S/4HANA Cloud to be posted into journals and the general ledger. The integration also ensures reimbursements are made through the bank as part of off-cycle or usual payrolls.

SAP has an extensive repository of pre-built APIs for consumption and allows customers and partners to develop additional APIs to suit specific requirements.

These integrations are created using an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution like Vision33’s The Saltbox Platform or SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP). These middleware solutions ensure strong and secure two-way communication between systems when both are hosted in the cloud.

Developer Extensibility

Developer extensibility is access to ABAP, the high-level SAP programming language SAP S/4HANA Cloud is written in.

ABAP is part of the core SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. Developers can put enhancements, customizations, and data migrations directly into the SAP code, governed by a framework in which all developers operate.

With SaaS solutions, upgrades happen automatically and can’t be declined—but any changes a developer makes to SAP S/4HANA Cloud within the permitted framework are update-proof. That means the customer is always on the latest release while retaining its custom code.

“An important aspect of developer extensibility is that access to the development platform within the core ERP enables partners like Vision33 to offer add-on solutions as well,” Ijlal says.

Ijlal cites Brutos, Vision33’s end-to-end brewery management software, as an example. Brutos was built on SAP Business One but can be effectively replicated in SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

Developer extensibility also opens niche opportunities for industries like utilities, oil and gas, or mining.

“Vision33 is working with a customer who wants a detailed, industry-specific project estimator,” Ijlal says. “We have the opportunity to prepare an add-on, plug it into the core application, and deliver it to the customer as one seamless solution in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. That’s a game-changer.”

Learn More

Vision33 is a multi-award-winning SAP partner, and our experts have created a free SAP S/4HANA Cloud info kit. Access it below to explore the next-generation cloud-based, intelligent ERP solution that will quickly drive your business forward and deliver a fast ROI.

Get the info kit