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SAP Architecture

Each type of SAP Architect role fuses technical prowess with business insight. It’s an art form that involves crafting advanced systems tailored to propel businesses forward. Along with SAP Project Managers, the five types of SAP Architect are pivotal in implementing and integrating new SAP technology solutions within an organization.

System architecture demands deep immersion into the functionalities, integrations, and intricate tapestries within the SAP landscape. At the core, the various types of SAP Architects are visionaries and builders, entrusted with the task of designing and delivering complex, bespoke SAP solutions that achieve a client’s unique business objectives, encompassing project leadership, stakeholder management, and continuous innovation.

This week IgniteSAP looks at some of the aspects that make up the discipline and practice of SAP Architecture and how the various roles in that category of SAP consulting are distinct from each other.

What sort of SAP Architect do you aspire to be?

SAP Architecture Roles

The SAP Enterprise Architect focuses on developing and communicating the overall IT landscape, both within and external to SAP.

SAP Solution Architect is a comprehensive role that oversees all aspects of SAP system implementations.

An SAP Technical Architect is responsible for owning the technical solution design throughout the delivery phase.

The SAP Integration Architect specializes in overseeing the technical integration of SAP solutions with existing business systems.

SAP Solution Designers assess specific business needs and crafts tailored solutions, integrating various organizational aspects into a cohesive framework.

Basic and Common Skills

Due to the complexity of SAP systems and the range of application in various industrial and commercial contexts SAP Architects usually specialize in one of the roles described above, but these roles share some common requirements.

The minimum requirement for all types of SAP Architect is that they should be both SAP BASIS and SAP HANA certified. Many positions will also require more than six years of experience in SAP product consulting, systems integration, or in an architect role. SAP Architects will often have a Bachelor’s Degree in IT, computer science, or engineering, and a preferably a Master’s degree in systems architecture or similar, but the pathways that lead to SAP Architecture vary widely.

SAP Architects should have experience in areas like SAP technical sizing & design, installation, upgrades, S/4HANA migration, and day-to-day administration across multiple OS and database variants (including SAP HANA). Experience in SAP Technical Design for Hyperscaler Hosting is also beneficial, particularly in Azure and AWS. They should also have an in-depth knowledge of ABAP development and a good understanding of core SAP modules such as Finance, MM, PP, QM, SD, PLM, and APO: again, depending on what type of SAP Architecture role they are aiming towards.

All types of SAP Architect should have both technical skills and a background in enterprise architecture, depending on their chosen specialism. An ideal candidate will be able to manage tasks like technical architecture analysis, research, design, and development of new functionality and integration with key applications and services in the SAP ecosystem.

Documenting processes and designs, and communicating them is a crucial aspect of SAP Architecture, especially when advising various stakeholders and addressing different audiences.

Good SAP Architects will have excellent soft skills and managerial skills as they will need to closely collaborate other teams, other SAP functional leads, teams working in non-SAP domains, and also work with representatives and teams on the client side to successfully deliver projects.

While all roles within the bracket of SAP Architect are ultimately contributing to the same goal of creating more value for a business through the proper use of technology, their overlapping roles have distinct requirements.

The SAP Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architecture paints a big picture of the enterprise that includes all business entities and their relationship to technology and applications. This architecture role is particularly concerned with guiding the client, the lifecycle of applications, and defining IT strategies.

The strategies created by Enterprise Architects are intended to reduce costs, eliminate redundant applications, technologies, or processes, and are meant to mitigate and manage the impact of a digital transformation.

Developing an enterprise architecture requires an understanding of the entire organization and close collaboration with leaders and stakeholders. Given the holistic view that enterprise architects need to have of a company, focus on the details of the infrastructure and other elements is delegated to others.

The skill requirements for an SAP Enterprise Architect include a blended skill set in enterprise, infrastructure, and business architecture, strong communication and analytical skills, and the capability to design and optimize enterprise-wide deployment of SAP.

The SAP Solution Architect

The Solution Architect is central to overseeing all aspects of SAP system implementations. They help to take the strategies created by Enterprise Architects and guide the client to the right solutions: formulating clear, adoptable approaches for the realization of the project.

The SAP Solution Architect is instrumental in designing SAP systems that are efficient, scalable, and capable of handling complex business processes. They manage third-party dependencies related to the SAP environment and handle duties such as provide project status reports to the client and project team, and monitoring compliance and adherence to industry standards.

They need a comprehensive understanding of SAP modules, integration points, and the impacts of changes in one area on the entire system. They are key in ensuring that systems cater to various business functions like finance, human resources, and operations, guaranteeing that these systems are seamlessly integrated.

They often have extensive experience with SAP technology and best practices, IT infrastructure, cloud technologies and application development lifecycle management. They are not directly in charge of the execution process but make sure that technical architects can successfully implement new IT solutions that are in line with all business requirements.

SAP Technical Architect

The SAP Technical Architect ensures that the technical aspects of SAP solutions are sound, sustainable, and scalable. The role involves providing technical expertise on SAP architecture, making recommendations to improve performance, and defining enterprise architecture standards.

Their focus is on the technicalities of the system’s architecture, working closely with the Solution Architect to ensure the technical feasibility and optimal performance of the proposed designs. Working closely with business, IT suppliers, and internal project teams Technical Architects gather non-functional requirements.

Technical Architects need a mix of IT knowledge and managerial skills. The ideal candidate should have a “T-skilled” approach, with a broad understanding of various SAP solutions like S/4HANA and NetWeaver and the ability to specialize in specific areas.

The SAP Integration Architect

The SAP Integration Architect ensures the integration of SAP systems with non-SAP applications and external systems. They must possess a thorough understanding of middleware, API management, and data synchronization techniques. Their expertise ensures that the SAP system functions as a cohesive unit, delivering unified functionality across the enterprise.

The role requires extensive knowledge of SAP systems, cloud platforms, and legacy applications. The main responsibilities include leading activities related to SAP system discovery, design, installation, upgrade, migration, and deployment. They also address complex issues around integration requirements of SAP systems with legacy, on-premise, and cloud applications.

They collaborate with cross-functional teams, and work closely with technical and functional teams to understand business requirements and plan solutions. The role also involves designing end-to-end SAP landscape sizing and architecture, providing technical advisory for solutions, and leading integrations.

Key skills and qualifications for an SAP Integration Architect include prior experience interfacing with functional/technical teams and executive management, knowledge of the SAP NetWeaver solution stack, and hands-on experience with the full life cycle of multiple SAP implementation projects.

The SAP Integration Architect is also expected to have a good understanding of SAP modules and processes, experience in SAP project management, and the ability to align with SAP functional and technical leads around SAP initiatives. They are required to ensure the quality and timeliness of deliverables to clients, and develop conceptual designs for new solutions.

The SAP Solution Designer

SAP Solution Designers work to combine various organizational aspects into a cohesive framework. They collaborate closely with the Solution Architect to translate business needs into technical solutions, ensuring that the designed system aligns with the specific requirements and objectives of the organization.

An SAP Solution Designer is responsible for designing technical and solution architecture, gathering non-functional requirements, and undertaking planning and management activities.

They are also responsible for solution design, configuration, and customization of SAP products, providing experienced advice on SAP functionality, and suggesting solutions to customers based on best practices.
The role requires strong presentation and communication skills, the ability to articulate sophisticated processes, and influence a wide range of collaborators. Additionally, expertise in SAP modules, such as Financial Accounting and Controlling (FICO), Sales and Distribution (SD), and Materials, is essential.

The position demands a good understanding of SAP best practices, extensive experience in ABAP development, and proficiency in performance tuning to deliver optimized solutions.

Emerging Trends and Future of SAP Architecture

The discipline of SAP Architecture is poised for significant changes driven by emerging technologies.

The shift towards cloud-based SAP solutions like SAP S/4HANA Cloud is gaining momentum, and demand for SAP Architects to deliver cloud-based SAP systems is increasing with the apporaching 2027 deadline for some legacy SAP products like SAP ECC (2030 for customers with extended support).

AI and ML are set to revolutionize SAP systems, and SAP Architects must now design systems that can integrate and harness the power of these advanced technologies. Much of the this new technology is now embedded in SAP products and services. SAP architects use SAP Business Technology Platform for integration using several protocols to both SAP and non-SAP systems, on the cloud and on-premise, and for providing detailed analytics functionality, data management, and intelligent technologies. SAP BTP also allows for the development and administration of business applications.

Integrating AI and ML into existing SAP systems presents multifaceted challenges. Foremost among these is ensuring data quality and availability; AI and ML thrive on high-quality, relevant data, a resource that may be scarce in legacy systems.

Compatibility issues also arise, as older SAP infrastructures might not seamlessly align with advanced AI and ML solutions, necessitating meticulous planning, and possibly substantial system upgrades or complete architectural overhaul.

A significant skills gap often exists within organizations around AI and ML, making it imperative to either upskill current staff or recruit new talent equipped with the necessary expertise. Beyond the technical aspects, the successful integration of AI and ML into SAP systems also demands effective change management, addressing not just the technological shifts but also the accompanying alterations in business processes and workforce dynamics.

It is extremely important to stay current with trends and emerging technologies. SAP Architects can remain at the forefront of the industry by:

Engaging in ongoing education through courses, webinars, and certifications offered by SAP and other reputable institutions. This ensures a deep and current understanding of the latest SAP solutions and practices.

Participating in professional networks, forums, and conferences related to SAP. This provides opportunities to exchange knowledge with peers and learn from industry leaders.

Applying new knowledge in practical scenarios is necessary to back up and contextualize understanding gained in training. By experimenting with new tools and methodologies in real projects, architects can understand their practical implications and benefits.

Regularly reading industry publications, blogs, and case studies helps in gaining insights into how emerging technologies are being implemented in different sectors.

The Market for SAP Architecture Services

There is a growing market for SAP consultants who can provide expert advice on system design, integration, and optimization. These consultants are instrumental in guiding enterprises through digital transformations and ensuring that their SAP systems deliver maximum value.

Every business has unique needs, and thus, the market for custom SAP solutions which are consistent with a clean core architecture is robust. Architects who can help to tailor SAP systems to meet specific business requirements while still opening up opportunities for innovation are highly sought after.

Career Progression in SAP Architecture

For aspiring SAP consultants, a career in SAP Architecture offers a pathway filled with opportunities for growth and development. All roles within SAP Architecture require varying degrees of technical expertise, but also a strategic mindset and a deep understanding of business processes.

SAP Architecture is an intricate and evolving field, deeply intertwined with the advancements in business technology. With its blend of technical challenge and strategic importance, SAP Architecture is the pinnacle of the art of SAP implementation.

A career pathway geared towards a role in SAP Architecture is an excellent choice for ambitious SAP consultants, and whether they are more proficient in the business side or the technical side, it offers opportunities for leadership.

SAP Architecture roles provide a means to profoundly transform businesses, ensuring their technological capabilities align seamlessly with their strategic objectives. By stepping into this type of role, SAP consultants are positioned at the cutting-edge of business technology, ready to shape the future of global enterprise.

Are you an SAP consultant with ambition and vision? Our teams can help you find your target employer and negotiate a compensation package which reflects your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive professional community at IgniteSAP.