SAP S/4HANA Custom Code: The heavily-customized elephant in the room | Blog

SAP S/4HANA Custom Code: The heavily-customized elephant in the room

Who’d want to be an SAP IT lead at the moment? They have COVID-19 to deal with and an economic downturn that may mean budget cuts ahead. Even worse, they’re expected to maintain business-as-usual while converting to SAP S/4HANA. If it was easy, everybody would do it…

But the world’s not entirely set against them. Businesses will learn to adapt to the new “normal”, and the economy will recover again. And while SAP S/4HANA conversion may be seen as a complicated, costly, headache by some, I prefer to think of it as a great opportunity for SAP leads. Done right, they can use this challenging conversion project to establish a modern digital core at the center of their business and IT landscape. They can demonstrate the skillset and impact of their tight-knit unit to executive sponsors and their C-Suite. And they can lay the foundations of a more agile, user-centric future, without sacrificing on their immediate innovation plans.

Doing this, of course, requires diligence, the right use of technology, and effective utilization of internal resources. It also requires smart thinking about one key topic: custom code.

The elephant in the room

Custom code is a double-edged sword. Most mid-size enterprises are rife with it, having built plenty of differentiating functionality to SAP to suit their specific needs. Often this custom code delivers a compelling competitive advantage or a shortcut for employees that seems to make the business more efficient. But the flip side is that masses of custom code can grow unwieldy. If custom code is not managed effectively, it becomes challenging to integrate, requires a lot of effort to maintain, and it drives up the total cost of ownership.

SAP S/4HANA Custom Code: the key question mark for businesses moving to SAP S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA represents a new way to work, with an in-memory database powering a completely reimagined and modern ERP solution. But to make the most of SAP S/4HANA, businesses have to adjust their existing custom code to the next technology stack. For many enterprises with a large custom codebase, this may require a huge effort and many resources. Furthermore, SAP leads have heard SAP’s C-Suite recommendation of ‘keeping the core clean’ and hence understand the need to cut down on technical debt, yet keep and renovate the differentiating custom code that adds value.

For many IT leaders, the complexity of how to handle custom code within the scope of an SAP S/4HANA conversion is causing a lot of sleepless nights.

Starting off on the right foot

There’s good news though. Following a standard procedure and aligning with the right platform technology can make custom code conversion simple. Better still, there’s no need for impact on current innovation efforts.

How can this be? With Neptune Software’s DX Platform (DXP), SAP leads have a bridge between SAP Business Suite 7 and SAP S/4HANA.

If they start their SAP S/4HANA conversion with a gap analysis, they can identify which additional functionality they require in the future. This tells them which custom code needs to be renovated, and what can be removed.

Once the analysis is done, they turn to Neptune DXP. This makes the conversion process simple and cost-effective and enables fast and future-proof innovation, including the development of multichannel Fiori apps.

How it works

Neptune DXP offers a dual-module approach that is perfect for aligning the SAP experts and the web / full stack developers in your IT department. Instead of working as disparate teams, these two groups of developers can use DXP to work together on custom-code renovation, plus new, multichannel Fiori app builds.

DXP allows SAP IT leads to leverage the knowledge of their ABAP dev team as they move to SAP S/4HANA (likely on-premise) because it blends into the ABAP technology stack, making it a ‘native’ tool for ABAP developers.

Then it allows those ABAPers to expose any type of business functionality as APIs. These APIs can act as a façade allowing IT ‘innovators’ to build apps within the existing ECC, then convert them in a near-automated way for SAP S/4HANA.

Simply put, DXP is a sidekick technology that makes renovating custom code easy and scalable. It facilitates the rapid creation of new custom apps; all aligned with SAP’s technology strategy and without introducing any further shadow IT.

The long-term advantage

“Think of Neptune DXP as a strategic platform that transforms your IT team into an ‘app factory’ that produces impactful custom business applications in an industrialized fashion. DXP helps you fully leverage your existing in-house expertise and provides your people with a tool to integrate SAP business systems, SAP’s SaaS solutions and 3rd-party functionality at ease. Suddenly the future looks a lot more exciting, and a lot less complicated to control. That’s the beauty of the Neptune DXP, and that’s the opportunity SAP leads need to grasp now.”

Matthias Steiner, Chief Product Officer, Neptune Software


If you’d like to learn more about how you can fast-track your way to SAP S/4HANA, download our whitepaper here.

Key Takeaways

dx api icons

Begin with a gap analysis of your custom code.

Keep the digital core clean.

Choose a platform that brings ABAP and full-stack developers together.

Innovate as you convert via an API-first framework.

Use a rapid app development platform as a safe harbor.

Want to know more about how Neptune Software can facilitate the rapid creation of your custom apps? Then get in touch with us:

Other Relevant Topics:

Neptune Software SAP S/4HANA

Sap fiori ux

Matthias Steiner

Matthias Steiner: Chief Product Officer [CPO] for Neptune Software

Matthias is a seasoned technologist with 20 years of experience in the enterprise software business with a focus on SAP. Former software architect, now focused on product management, with a sweet spot at the intersection of technology & communication. High profile blogger & influencer in the SAP ecosystem. Well versed in tech talk and C-level business conversations. Regular (keynote) speaker at international software development conferences. World traveler and aspiring global citizen. Father of four and part-time triathlete. Constantly balancing family, work and sports.

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