SAP ABAP Developer – what does his/her job look like?

ABAP is a high-level programming language created by the German company, SAP SE, and its first implementations date back to the 1980s. It is a language that was originally intended to be used for the creation of simple reports by business people. The purpose of creating this language was to give people involved in sales, finance, accounting, or management, the ability to write programmes themselves. As the language was intended to be simple and accessible to everyone, anyone could write programmes, without the need for professional programmers.

In practice, however, it turned out that most people in the business world were not at all familiar with the technology. In the course of time, both the business and technology fields have evolved to such an extent, that they have simply become too extensive and advanced, to be the responsibility of a single person. This is how a new job position was created – the SAP developer.

SAP Developer – who is a SAP developer?

A SAP developer is none other than a person, who programs in the ABAP language for the SAP environment. This environment is divided into three main parts: developers, who program; testers, who test the correctness of the software; and consultants, who implement the already finished product for the customer. As every entrepreneur’s goal is to continually move upwards, their business is growing, so it is possible that they will need new features in their SAP system. Therefore, the SAP team, even after the system has been implemented, remains in constant contact with the customer, and the SAP Developer will support the changing business needs.

Working model

Most people working in IT appreciate the remote working model. Unfortunately, this is rather impossible in the SAP environment – not only do they usually have to work stationary or hybrid, but they are also often faced with making business trips to customers. The physical presence of the team at the customer’s site, facilitates communication, and streamlines the entire software development process. There are exceptions, of course – especially when data security is at stake, such as when the client is a military organisation, or a company that simply does not grant access to its premises to external contractors. For those, whose favourite place to work is their room, this will be an undesirable element, but for others, bored with constant programming within four walls, it will be a huge advantage. It is worth noting that the ABAP Programmer is close to the business, through his or her travels and work with clients, thus, developing his or her competencies beyond programming.

Programming in ABAP

Although the original syntax of the ABAP language is reminiscent of that of the now archaic COBOL, SAP is moving towards full objectivisation, and is supplemented by technologies such as Dynpro, Web Dynpro, or Business Server Pages for data presentation. Programming in ABAP itself is not complicated, and practically anyone who is in any way related to technology, can start their adventure in the SAP environment. However, it is important to bear in mind that ABAP is an extremely large language and, while writing the code itself, will not be a major problem, it can be troublesome to find the places, where the code will start to have a usable function.

To start programming in ABAP, you should have skills, such as:

  • writing extensions,
  • programming screens, reports, printouts,
  • debugging,
  • integration, using IDOCs and EDI, ALE, RFC technologies,
  • use of BADI, BAPI,
  • optimisation of selections using today’s extensive data volumes.

As with any position, in addition to hard skills, soft skills are also extremely important, and in this case, will include communication skills, great intuition, the ability to work in a team, or the willingness to improve your skills, both in terms of technology and business. Knowledge of foreign languages – English and German – will also prove especially useful.