SAP architects are currently in high demand and much needed to help implement and guide SAP technology solutions that achieve the company's complex business objectives.
► Find out how SAP Architects set the stage for SAP S/4HANA migration!
Solutions architects and other IT architects looking to advance their careers and specialize should consider a future as SAP Architect. Besides SAP Project Managers, SAP Architects play a central role in an enterprise’s efforts to introduce and implement new SAP technology solutions.
Right now, SAP Architects and other SAP System Experts are in high demand as many organizations are tackling challenging transformations from SAP ECC ERP to SAP S/4HANA, creating a need for SAP Architects.
An SAP Architect is a system expert of SAP solutions who sets and manages the organization's SAP IT landscape in alignment with required business transformations. SAP Architects have specialized knowledge of SAP technology, and therefore are able to create and execute an architectural blueprint that outlines solutions to achieve complex business objectives.
An SAP Architect is a specialized subset of the generic solution architect role, but there are other examples of SAP architect job titles that will differentiate based on the company's needs and their specific structure:
With all this in mind, what are the main roles and responsibilities of an SAP architect? As mentioned above, an SAP Architect is a solution architect who works with a product–in this case, SAP.
The main role of an SAP Architect is to evaluate all business requirements and come up with solutions that provide an integrated approach for SAP customers. This includes deploying SAP solutions such as SAP CRM and SAP SRM and stabilizing core SAP ERP systems. Once they are given a problem, an SAP Architect’s role is not only to be in charge of finding answers but of actively leading the technical vision to success.
Many enterprises already use the SAP ERP / SAP ECC solution to manage their day-to-day key business functions, which is why solutions architects specializing in SAP products are currently in such high demand. SAP is also encouraging its customers to migrate their older ERP systems over to the new SAP S/4HANA with plenty of deployment options to fit their business processes.
As a result, organizations need guidance migrating their old systems to the new systems with HANA in-memory database, so a major responsibility of an SAP Architect, in this case, might be to organize and deploy the correct implementation method (Brownfield vs. Greenfield) based on the company’s needs.
Many skills are needed to become a successful SAP Architect, and not just hard skills and qualifications.
Be a T-skilled person
When entering into the role, it helps to be a T-skilled person. SAP provides thousands of solutions and it is impossible to acquire an in-depth knowledge of them all, so don’t be afraid to specialize–SAP architects who carefully choose where to specify will be most effective in delivering the best guide to where a particular solution should fit into an overall design.
Be comfortable with simplification
SAP Architects should keep in mind that they will be producing solutions that will need to be adopted by a range of different audiences within an enterprise; from Senior Executive Managers to administration. As a result, architects must be able to simplify complex processes in a way that they can be easily understood by anyone–this is a skill well worth developing, as it will save everyone huge amounts of time and confusion.
Know the difference between Best Practice and Best Fit
While SAP best practices are a good starting point for SAP Architects when working to understand a business’s requirements, they can endanger a project by over-engineering the design and should not take precedence over best fit. Just because a solution is an SAP best practice, does not mean it is the correct methodology or solution for the problem at hand.
Take notes & write things down
There will be points in each project–especially if you are working more in an advisory capacity–where you will have to relay your methodology and design to a variety of different audiences, so having your process written down and easily accessible will help you create concise and understandable explanations for why you chose that particular solution; especially if the majority of your time is spent in meetings reviewing progress or resolving issues.
Work well with others
Solution architecture is not a role you can work on alone and then walk away from; it requires working with others in the organization; listening to feedback, discussing pros and cons, cross-checking your design with others when it moves out of your area of expertise, and communicating your design to many different audiences, etc.
The minimum requirement for all SAP Architects is that they should be both SAP BASIS and SAP HANA certified. Many positions will also require 6+ years of experience in SAP product consulting, systems integration, or in an architect role. A Bachelor’s Degree in IT, computer science, or engineering–and a Master’s degree in systems architecture or similar–is desired. It is vital SAP Architects have a good understanding of SAP best practices.
SAP Architects should have experience in SAP technical sizing & design, installation, upgrade, 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 (specifically MS Azure and AWS). They should also have an in-depth knowledge of ABAP development and a good understanding of SAP modules such as Finance, MM, PP, QM, SD, PLM, and APO.
Ideally, an SAP Architect should have both technical skills and a background in enterprise architecture. An ideal candidate will manage technical architecture analysis, research, design, and development of new functionality and integration with key applications and services under the SAP ecosystem.
They will need to closely collaborate and partner with other teams, all other SAP functional leads, non-SAP domains, and demand organization from the business to successfully deliver projects.
SAP Architect salary expectations can range anywhere from $118,000 to $190,000 based on experience and location.
In the United States, the median annual income for a qualified SAP Architect with several years’ experience is around $133,000. In Europe (Germany), the median annual salary is around €120,000. Acquiring further certifications in SAP-specific areas such as project management or solutions architecture can also facilitate an increase in salary.
White PaperLeanIX SAP S/4HANA Survey 2022
White PaperHow LeanIX Helps with SAP S/4HANA Transformation
So how do I become an SAP Architect? There are many paths that lead into this role; including those who come from a generic solutions architecture role or from a developer position. Some may also come from an SAP product consulting position. Most SAP Architects will come from a background that already requires some working knowledge of the SAP ecosystem, and will be familiar with the migration to S/4HANA.
Specializing in product-based solutions architecture is a great career move with a significant increase in salary. However, the path to becoming a confident SAP Architect is a slow and steady progression of learning and developing, and requires time and commitment over many years.
It is a combination of talents that makes a successful SAP Architect. Most importantly, they need to understand how the enterprise technology framework can lead to desired business goals. In this role, strategic and analytical thinking is just as important as outstanding soft skills.
Their role goes beyond planning and executing complex SAP solutions; it’s a position that requires people skills and the ability to translate complex solutions into clear and concise strategies which can be easily adopted by anyone in an organization.
Here are some of the desired SAP Architect certifications:
Further specialized SAP certifications can be found on SAP's official website. There are also additional supplementary certifications that may benefit SAP Architects in their career growth, such as Project Management Professional (PMP) and AWS Certified Solution Architect.
Moving into an SAP Architect role provides a great step in personal development, as well as a promising career move with plenty of opportunities and higher salary expectations.
With SAP continuously developing its products, the role is an excellent educational opportunity with room for growth within the position and to become an expert in the broader solution architecture discipline.
Free White Paper
It’s time to draw up your digital transformation roadmap to migrate your company from its legacy SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA.
How do I become an SAP architect?
What is an SAP technical architect?
What does an SAP integration architect do?