Article Series “Bringing Together Clean Core, Cloud, the SAP Extension Suite and SAP BTP – A Clean Core and Differentiation / Extensibility Strategy”
This posting is the sixth part of a series, which proposes a functional-strategic approach to Clean Core to help overcome the challenges, which the prevalent technical approach entails. Visit the overview page for a management summary and links to the other postings.
Introduction and Recap
The essence of the Clean Core Principle is the separation of standard code from custom code, as outlined in the second posting. When thinking about developments in the context of the SAP standard, it is subsequently argued in the posting on the functional-strategic approach that a new perspective is necessary when dealing with custom extensions of the SAP standard which shifts the focus from the SAP standard to the custom development. The framework presented in the previous post implements this paradigm change from thinking of extensions to thinking of differentiations. Nonetheless, the SAP standard continues to play an important role, of course.
First Decision Point: Standard – Or Not?
When looking at the big picture, for example during the initial phases of an S/4HANA transition, the first step is to distinguish between business capabilities which implement competitive advantages and those which do not. Regarding the capabilities, in which an organization does not gain any strategic advantages, individual deviations from the SAP standard processes are inefficiencies from a technical perspective. The recommendation is to completely standardize these processes as part of Fit-To-Standard and to only customize the SAP standard. No development should be used for their implementation in the system to achieve the highest efficiency and maintainability – and to meet the requirements of one half of the Clean Core Principle.
The Selection of the Extensibility Flavor is Not the Next Step
This part, however, is the straightforward one and does not need any further attention from a development perspective. The same is true for a second group of capabilities, which are clearly unrelated to SAP standard functionality and typically stay implemented as pure custom developments outside of the SAP space. The critical capabilities from a Clean Core perspective are those which do constitute important aspects of the USP of an organization and are simultaneously supported by or closely linked to SAP standard functionality. These are the second half of the Clean Core Principle and specifically for them a differentiation strategy is proposed in the next posting. From a technical perspective, a further distinction according to the extensibility option used for their implementation may be introduced. This, however, reflects the reasoning of the technical approach and thus should be delayed until a differentiation strategy has been specified, which provides a consistent and integrated functional and technical application architecture covering the entire range of implementations for differentiation, independent of the extensibility option.
A Combination of Two Approaches is Required for a Clean Core Strategy
There are two sides of Clean Core:
The SAP standard (or Core), which should be kept clean
The differentiation logic, which needs to be implemented outside of the core.
In the Clean Core Strategy, both sides have to be addressed, but each of them requires an individual project approach.
As a result, the Clean Core Strategy covers two fundamentally different approaches, one for the introduction of the SAP standard only by customizing, and one for the implementation of the differentiation.