Read an Excerpt
Welcome to the newly updated Sams Teach Yourself SAP in 24 Hours, your teach-yourself guide to learning one of the most sophisticated and far-reaching set of enterprise solutions available on the market today. And congratulationsyou've been paying attention. Over the last few years, we have seen software packages become popular overnight, fading back into obscurity just as quickly. Through every storm that the dot-com bubble, tragedy of September 11, period of global recession, and unparalleled growth of the Internet era mustered, though, it's been impossible not to notice how one company and its products consistently stayed the course. That company is SAP, and its most popular products and technologies are mainstays throughout much of corporate America and indeed the worldR/3, NetWeaver, mySAP ERP, Business Warehouse, Advanced Planner and Optimizer, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Portal, and much more. In fact, upwards of 30 products or technical components make up SAP's stable of software solutions today. It is hard to believe that merely a few short years ago, there were only two.
SAP is nothing if not revolutionary. Since 2001, we have witnessed something remarkable, almost unbelievable. The market leader in its industry looked inward and evaluated its core competencies, looked outward at its competitors and paid attention, and then made the necessary adjustments to maintain its market leadership. It didn't shrink back and "rightsize" around one or two things it did well, or waffle back and forth between leadership visionaries and their predictions of the future. Instead, faster than a ship its size has any business doing, SAP modified course headings without ever straying too far off course. SAP navigated the whole best-of-breed debacle, charted a wide path around the "sell services, not products" trend, embraced Java instead of circumventing it in favor of its own legacy development language, and all the while sped full steam ahead toward a vision of always-on, always-accessible, and eminently adaptable enterprise computing.
Yet, on a number of fronts, SAP remains a model of evolution as well as revolution, explaining at once why this company claims leadership in nearly every market in which it competes. SAP is not content to leave well enough alone. It's not content to hang its hat on market share and product award laurels that, immediately following product announcement, only begin to age at Internet speed. SAP's product design philosophy, its attention to underlying architecture models, and most of all its customer focus, has created the third largest software company in the world. SAP is not afraid to embrace new technologies and computing models, or to embrace new ways of getting work done. NetWeaver proves this: SAP has taken the specialization and integration it has done so well, and added adaptability and agility to the mix. Boldly claiming that the future belongs to Web Services and the rapid adaptation of business processes that such technology enables, SAP has given the world a platform that is not only immediately useful, but ready for the long haul. And its boldness will serve SAP well, especially in light of the fact that SAP is equally concerned with maintaining support for legacy technologies.
Today, SAP AG is the market leader in enterprise application software based on client/server and more recently Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) or more precisely Enterprise Services Architecture (ESA) technologythe latter of which is SAP's take on SOA. As the number one vendor of standard business-application software in the world, SAP AG's products are used by thousands of companies across more than a hundred countries, from multi-national global entities to small/medium business concerns determined to succeed in a global marketplace. And with solutions spanning industry verticals, SAP is also the undisputed leader in providing comprehensive solutions for companies of all sizes and within all industry sectors.
Picking up this book represents a confident step in the right direction. You are going with the market leader, the model of endurance, the preeminent technology frontrunner and enterprise solution enabler. As a result, after about 24 hours of reading, you will possess a solid foundation upon which to build greater capabilities or even a career in SAP. Your knowledge foundation will be broad, certainly, and in need of much bolstering in one direction or the other. But the beauty of the whole thing is that you'll be aware of these directionscareer options and choices that will enable you to grow and manage your own career in a direction of your choosing. You'll know where you want to go. That alone is enough to get you on the road toward making something happen.
And in the meantime, your 24-hour investment will likely serve you well in your current employment position, too. Armed with insight, skills, understanding, and a broad sense of the "big picture" facing nearly every company in business today, you'll no longer look at computing solutions and the people who use and manage them in the same way again. That will make you a valuable asset to your employer, and perhaps the envy of your co-workers.
What's New in This Edition
Sams Teach Yourself SAP in 24 Hours is divided into 24 chapters that can each be completed in about an hour. This book covers everything you need to become well acquainted with the core SAP products and components that are often collectively referred to simply as SAP. The book is organized to provide visibility into key facets of SAP terminology, usage, configuration, deployment, administration, and more. As such, it is necessarily general at times rather than exceedingly detailed, although a certain amount of depth in much of the subject matter is purposely provided where deemed critical to further your understanding. In this structure may be found the book's true valuethe content herein is broad enough to paint a picture most anyone can understand, yet deep enough to provide more than an introduction to the subject matter. Certainly, more detailed books abound; use this book as a stepping stone to those various other texts dedicated to SAP architecture, implementation, programming, configuration, administration, performance tuning, and so on.
Who Should Read This Book
Sams Teach Yourself SAP in 24 Hours begins with the basics and terminology surrounding SAP, SAP NetWeaver, and ESA, and from there begins the process of carefully building upon your new knowledge to piece together the complex world of SAP. The pace of the book is designed to provide a solid foundation such that you understand the more advanced topics covered later in the book. In this way, the novice may quickly realize what it means to plan for, deploy, and use SAP, in the process unleashing the power that comes with understanding how all the pieces of the puzzle come together to solve business problems. With this understanding also comes an appreciation of the role that colleagues and partners play with their regard to SAPperspectives of SAP end users, system administrators, business planners, will ultimately make more sense as you work your way through the book.
Organization of This Book
Thus, from the basics surrounding SAP, to implementation planning and system navigation, to creating your own SAP reports and using the many different SAP components that make up NetWeaver and mySAP business suite today, this book is ideal for people at all levels of education, experience, and familiarity with SAP. Combined with its real-world examples, along with figures, tables, graphics, and actual SAP user-interface screenshots, Sams Teach Yourself SAP in 24 Hours serves as an excellent launch pad for using and managing SAP in the real world of business and IT.
To test and reinforce your knowledge, each hour concludes with a Q&A, and Quiz section. These sections provide you an opportunity to put your newfound knowledge and understanding both to the test and into practice. And with the answers to the quiz questions found at the back of the book, it is an easy matter to verify your knowledge and hone in on particularly troublesome topics.
Finally, most hours include an Exercises section as well. Specifically, for those hours that are user-focused or that lend themselves to real-world application, a set of open-ended exercises are designed to get you familiar or comfortable with a particular area. There's no wrong answer when it comes to these exercises (indeed, there are no answers provided); instead, the knowledge you gain as you work through the exercises helps you build upon the foundation provided that hour.
I hope you enjoy the updated Sams Teach Yourself SAP in 24 Hours, and learning the new world of SAP. Good luck and regards!
Conventions Used in This Book
Text that you type appears as bold monospace and text that appears on your screen is presented in monospace type.
In addition to this, the following icons are used to introduce other pertinent information used in this book.
Note - A By the Way presents interesting pieces of information related to the surrounding discussion.
Tip - A Did you Know? offers advice or teaches an easier way to do something.
Caution - A Watch Out! advises you about potential problems and helps you steer clear of disaster.
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