How SAP HANA impacts SAP development teams

Ray-Prasad

We’ve all heard what SAP HANA can do for your business, but what will it do to your SAP development team? Ray Prasad discusses the implications.

After attending SAP TechEd in October 2015, and presenting a session at the New Zealand SAP User Group (NZSUG) later in the year on this topic, I had requests from both partners and customers for more discussion around the impact of SAP HANA on the future of SAP development teams.

With SAP HANA now taking off as the new ‘digital core’ for the SAP juggernaut, there is no doubt that the impact on existing SAP development teams, who implement and support SAP solutions, will be significant. With the rise of SAP HANA, the ways in which SAP technical teams deliver services to their SAP customers (in-house or external), will need a rethink. Teams and their managers should consider how they can prepare themselves to ensure they remain effective in delivering this new breed of SAP HANA-based solutions.

Looking ahead, SAP development teams will have many questions, such as:

  • What new skills and training do we need?
  • What development tools should we use and how do we set them up?
  • What is our role going to be and what should we focus on?
  • How will our team deliver and support HANA-based solutions?
  • What happens to traditional SAP development? Is it still relevant?
  • How will this align with our organisational goals?
  • How will we structure our teams in the future?
  • What strategies and methodologies will we introduce or modify to adapt to HANA?

    Impact on SAP development teams

    SAP HANA introduces new technologies and platforms, challenging the status quo. Consequently, existing SAP technical teams will need to look at how they adapt to these new challenges.

    impact to ABAP development & teams

    The impact on development teams could include:

  • The need to acquire new skill sets,
  • The use of new development and platform tools,
  • The requirement to establish new strategies and methodologies, and
  • The need to revise team roles and structures.This article discusses these areas of impact, and highlights the key action-points required for SAP practitioners and their managers to be better prepared and remain effective in delivering new SAP HANA-based solutions to their customers.The context of this discussion is specific to an SAP technical team and the focus is on a few key areas only. However, the introduction of SAP HANA has a far wider impact on all kinds of organisations (both partners and customers), and deserves its own scrutiny in a broader sense.

Developers need new skillsets

In addition to traditional ABAP skills (as in ABAP programming, e.g. Workflow, Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements, Forms), new HANA development skills are now required in areas such as HANA Modelling and Development, Development Tools, Programming Languages and User Experience (UX) Strategy and Design.

Developers Need New Skillsets

With HANA Modelling and Development capabilities, new ABAP CDS Views and HANA Views can be created for consumption by applications and reports. This provides the ability to push the heavy lifting to the HANA database, rather than using the traditional application layer.

SAP UI5 Applications and HANA Views require new toolsets, such as the SAP Web IDE and Eclipse-based HANA Studio.

HTML and JavaScript are the key programming languages required to create SAPUI5 applications, in addition to ABAP.

More importantly, in order to create an engaging User Experience (UX), greater focus and design effort is now required in creating new applications. This increased focus on the user requires new skills not universally known by current ABAP practitioners. To assist, SAP is providing prototyping tools such as BUILD to improve the quality of newly created applications, as well as facilitate them being created in an intuitive and responsive manner.

In order to achieve the above, and shift into the new development world of SAP HANA, team members need to re-assess their current skill levels and acquire new ones. In turn, managers should review their strategies and make sure they are investing in the necessary training to ensure their teams are prepared for SAP HANA.

New roles and team structures

Traditionally, when creating ABAP applications, a single developer covered multiple skill areas. With this shift in the developer skill set required to better meet the demands of HANA enriched solutions, new roles and team structures may be required to collaborate on projects and support responsibilities. For example, it might make sense to separate the design and development elements of HANA applications, based on specific individual and team strengths.

New Roles and Team Structures

Traditional ABAP skills are still required, with the addition to new capabilities such as Personas and ABAP CDS Views. These could be responsibilities of the ERP backend developer.

The HANA Modelling and native HANA development could be completed by a HANA Data Modeller or HANA Developer.

Integration Architects now require added cloud-based integration capabilities, in addition to traditional process orchestration skills. This is leading to new roles being created, such as ‘Cloud Integration Architect’.

User Experience (UX) Architects focus on the design aspects of an application. Using design thinking principles and prototyping tools (BUILD), they are responsible for creating applications that facilitate great user experiences. UX developers focus on the technical development of these applications using SAP FIORI/UI5 with SAP WEB IDE and programming languages such as JavaScript. The ERP Developer does not need extensive UX design or development skills, but can focus on provisioning ODATA services for access to SAP artifacts by UX applications.

Other areas that may require new team roles include Business Intelligence and Cloud Technologies. Of course, this analysis only mentions a few areas, and managers will need to consider the broader impact the ever-changing world of SAP technology is likely to make to their teams.

In summary, we recommend that managers review their teams and skills, both established and latent, and look to match these against the SAP roadmap, in order to effectively deliver and support HANA-based SAP Solutions in the future. This may include splitting responsibilities within teams across ERP backend, HANA specific development and UX, in order to better plan and deliver such solutions. Organisational size, existing structures and strategies and customer demand will impact on both what is feasible and when the optimal time to introduce change is.

New strategies and methodologies

SAP project and support teams establish strategies and methodologies to deliver services and solutions to their customers. This ensures standards and protocols are followed, in order to deliver consistent and quality solutions in an organised and measurable fashion.

New Strategies and Methodologies

With the new SAP HANA development capabilities, and deployment options (on-premise, hybrid or cloud platform), every aspect of these strategies and methodologies needs to be reviewed to consider whether they are still effectively delivering services and solutions to customers.

The architectural and deployment changes with migration from on-premise to hybrid or the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) require new governance, roles, responsibilities and security strategies.

Creating solutions via the HCP requires an assessment of existing strategies around Change and Lifecycle Management, Testing, Training, Hardware, Security and Integration.

With new developer skills and team structures, updates to operational guidelines are needed to establish clear reporting, delivery roles and responsibilities. Documentation that covers development standards and naming conventions for the developers needs to include new HANA development objects. New UX strategies and design methodologies need to be established to cover the development of SAP Fiori/SAPUI5 applications.

It must be noted that strategies and methodologies should align with organisational strategies and methodologies. Organisations that deliver SAP HANA solutions need to be clear on how they approach projects and how they measure whether they have been successful or not. Apart from these technically focused strategies, wider organisational strategies need to be reviewed, by both SAP Partners and customers, to consider the organisational impacts of SAP HANA.

Conclusion

This article has covered how SAP HANA impacts on the key focus areas for SAP Technical teams. The impact is, of course, far greater than this and is relevant across any organisation that implements or interacts with SAP.

SAP HANA is a catalyst for organisational change, and must be evaluated as a platform enabling organisations to gain a competitive advantage in the ever changing world of digital technology.

As Partners, the better prepared we are, the better we can prepare our customers and deliver better quality HANA-based solutions.

Ray Prasad is an SAP Architect at Soltius New Zealand. He has 17 years’ SAP experience and has held several different roles in his career including ABAP developer, technical team lead, SAP change and release manager, service delivery manager, solution architect, data migration lead and integration lead.

As a certified Technical Consultant, Prasad has worked on a number of SAP project implementations, including the first new implementation of Suite on HANA at a New Zealand life sciences manufacturer and the first S/4 HANA migration in New Zealand at a leading NZ agribusiness. Ray’s experience spans across industries such as finance, retail, telco, government, manufacturing, mining and healthcare.