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My process, my app, my competitive advantage

The reasons for returning to the standard in the course of an S/4 transformation are reasonable. Equally wise are individual process tailoring and enhancements to stand out from the competition. A plea for more differentiation through the individual Fiori apps.
Marco Grieger, BTC
May 9, 2022
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The world craves simple answers! The SAP community is no exception - especially when the transformation to S/4 is being discussed. Interested parties like to argue that S/4 can handle everything. The reduction of the uncontrolled growth of Abap modifications and Z programs as well as the return to the standard are considered - to use political jargon - to be without alternatives. And if functional wishes are still unfulfilled, the community may have a suitable solution ready in the public app "stores".

There is no doubt that S/4 offers a rich feature set and interesting technical innovations. There is no doubt that the return to the standard and the "keep the core clean" paradigm are highly persuasive. This is preferably true for plagued SAP managers in companies who are confronted daily with the grown uncontrolled growth of their application landscape. However, it is also true that S/4 Hana can do a lot, but not everything. Above all, it is a contradiction in terms to be able to generate competitive advantages with the help of best practices and standard functional scope.

The same applies to apps from generally accessible directories. An app from the SAP Store, such as BTC Facility Issue Report for damage reporting, is certainly a valuable aid in daily work. However, it takes a great deal of imagination to assume unique competitive advantages in programs from generally accessible directories. To put it bluntly, the apps are the mobile counterpart to the standard functionality of the corporate application in the backend.

The bottom line is that every company facing the S/4 transformation must inevitably face the discussion between individual and standard software or deal with the eternal question of IT, "Make or buy? But - and this much can be revealed here - the question already contains the answer at its core. The "or" is simply to be replaced by an "and" and the "make" is to be written rather small in comparison to the "buy".

The latter can be understood quite literally. A promising solution approach combines a consistent return to the SAP standard with the individual development of Fiori apps in order to implement functions that are relevant to the competition. The advantage is that SAP provides the necessary development tools, extension environment (BTP Extension Suite, Enhancement Framework) and operating environment (Fiori launch pad). Basically, modification-free additions can be made to data objects or individual processing logic can be added.

A new app is directly integrated into the SAP authorization concept and works in all relevant cloud or on-premises operating scenarios. Fiori apps take account of the changed user experience with the "mobile first" requirement, but also support use on the desktop in principle.  

BTC Fiori Sprint
The Fiori Sprint: fast results using proven design sprint methods.

Must-have instead of nice-to-have

Before rushing to replicate the individual additions and adaptations of the legacy system one-to-one, some basic considerations should be made in the run-up to the transformation. With due diligence, the individual requirements should be determined, the use of which ensures competitive advantages over the competitors. To do this, the range of functions provided by SAP as standard is compared with the functionality desired by a company, which is usually already used in the legacy system.

In the second step, the mandatory functions are recorded that have no equivalent in the standard. The decisive word in this context is "mandatory". In view of the high expenditure of resources and time that an S/4 transformation per se already means, it seems counterproductive to implement every customized feature or individual design preference once again as an app. Investments should be focused exclusively on functions and processes that promise real added value. A simple-sounding, but reliable approach can be used for identification. Every answer to the question: "Which function are we glad that it is not part of the standard or that our competitors have it?
have candidates for realization. This is because the self-assessment indicates that the function makes a notable contribution to the company's success.

Competitive advantage

Since the aim is to implement the function as a lean Fiori app, it is not possible to choose a method with management overhead such as Scrum, Kanban or others for reasons of effort and cost. It is in the nature of things or - better formulated - in the nature of the task to accompany the development with an equally lean approach. In order to test the resilience of a functional proposal in a short period of time, the Design Sprint is a suitable procedure - a popular method among start-ups that originally came from Google Ventures. Design Sprint is associated with the idea of validating product ideas within a few days in a quick run, implementing prototypes and having them tested by users in order to be able to evaluate the prospects of success of a full implementation at the end.

A Fiori Sprint of this kind is made up of four different episodes, ideally lasting one day. The first step is to identify the requirements, for example using the approach described in the previous paragraph. In the second step, details for the user experience of an app are worked out together. The prototype subsequently created gives users their first experience of implementing the function as an app on a smartphone, tablet or PC. After the successful test, the responsible parties receive a reliable calculation basis from the supporting consultants for the development of the functional app and can prioritize its implementation appropriately as part of the S/4 implementation.


With the solution approach outlined, companies are given a first-class opportunity to continue to leverage individual process strengths without jeopardizing the "Keep the Core Clean" paradigm in the SAP standard. In principle, a kind of Z data space is emulated for the realization of customized functions as an app. This enables companies to rescue their intellectual property and knowledge about optimized processes and functions, some of which has been maintained for many years, into the new SAP world - on a new basis and at a fraction of the financial and personnel expense.

Marco Grieger, BTC

Marco Grieger is Manager Team User Experience and SAP Fiori at BTC Business Technology Consulting

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.