Extend Your ERP using Clean Core Approach

Need to extend your SAP Application ? Here is what you need to know about ‘Clean Core Extendibility’

SAP S/4HANA Cloud operates in the cloud and is managed by SAP, making it distinct from traditional software products. All customers share the same base code, and updates are applied to everyone at the same time.

This setup makes it impractical for individual customers to implement custom enhancements as they could in previous on-premises systems. However, customer-specific enhancements are still essential. The methods and procedures for making these enhancements must be entirely reimagined and redesigned to suit the cloud environment.

The “Clean Core” Concept: Strategy and Implementation for SAP S/4HANA Cloud

The phrase “keep the core clean” was introduced by former SAP CTO Björn Goerke at TechEd 2018. He explained how SAP Cloud Platform Functions and Enterprise Messaging can develop agile, responsive applications while keeping the system’s core clean. Over the years, new methods and techniques for maintaining a clean core have emerged. I will outline these in detail.

The “clean core” concept is both an idea and a strategy for a modern, adaptable, and cloud-compliant SAP S/4HANA Cloud environment. It involves integrating and extending SAP S/4HANA Cloud to align with cloud standards, maintain high-quality master data, and optimize business process governance. By following this methodology, customers can enhance system maintainability, improve performance, and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for their SAP S/4HANA Cloud solutions.

Maintaining a clean core is crucial for several reasons.

  • Ensures core system stability and reliability for smooth business operations.
  • Allows easier upgrades and updates with fewer customizations to manage, enabling faster implementation of new SAP features and capabilities.
  • Improves overall system security by minimizing vulnerabilities from extensive customizations.
  • Supports better data management and governance, maintaining accurate and consistent master data for informed decision-making.
  • Enhances compliance with regulatory requirements by maintaining high standards of data integrity and quality.
  • Increases business agility and responsiveness to changing market conditions.
  • Enables quick adaptation to new business needs, scaling operations, and leveraging emerging technologies without the hindrance of a heavily customized and fragmented core system.


What is the ‘Core’?

The core of SAP S/4HANA Cloud encompasses its fundamental elements, which can be considered as dimensions or components. These include:

Processes: These are the sequences of actions or steps taken within SAP S/4HANA Cloud. They cover the entire journey from start to finish, ensuring that an outcome is delivered or a result is achieved. These processes are designed to handle end-to-end (E2E) activities efficiently.

Data: This refers to all the information stored and used by SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Data is crucial for the system’s operations and is divided into three main types: configuration data (settings that define how the system operates), master data (core data essential to business operations), and transactional data (data generated from business transactions).

Integration: Integration involves connecting SAP S/4HANA Cloud with other software systems. This connection allows for the seamless exchange of data, which is essential for supporting various processes and ensuring they run smoothly.

Operations: These are the necessary maintenance tasks performed within SAP S/4HANA Cloud to keep it running efficiently. Operations include managing software releases, scheduling background jobs, handling user permissions, and setting up monitoring and alert systems to keep an eye on the system’s performance.

Extensibility: Extensibility is the ability to expand SAP S/4HANA Cloud’s functionality. This allows businesses to add features and capabilities that meet specific organizational needs not covered by the standard software.


How to achieve a Clean Core?

How can we extend your ERP with clean core?

The clean core methodology is designed to ensure that any extensions made to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud system do not interfere with upgrades, and upgrades do not disrupt the extensions. Here are the key guidelines to follow:

Fit-to-Standard: Always strive to use SAP’s standard processes as much as possible. This means adopting the predefined business processes provided by SAP instead of creating custom ones. By doing so, you ensure that your system remains aligned with SAP’s best practices and is easier to upgrade in the future.

Zero-Modifications Policy: From the very beginning of your project, commit to a policy of making no modifications to the standard SAP code. Modifications can complicate future upgrades and maintenance. Instead, look for ways to meet your requirements using standard configurations and extensibility options provided by SAP.

Utilize Extension Options: Take full advantage of the various extension options available, such as In-App extensions, Developer extensions, and Side-by-Side extensions. Choose the option that best fits your specific needs. Ensure that you use only whitelisted and approved APIs to maintain system integrity and compatibility.

Remove Redundant Enhancements: Review any existing enhancements and remove those that duplicate standard SAP functionality. Avoid creating “clones” of standard code, as these can cause conflicts and issues during upgrades. Streamlining your enhancements helps keep the system clean and easier to manage.

Cloud Transition Mindset: Approach your project with the mindset that you are transitioning from an on-premise SAP S/4HANA system to a cloud-based SAP S/4HANA Cloud system. Leverage the capabilities of the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) Extension and Integration Suites for application development and system integration. This will help you take full advantage of cloud features and ensure a smoother transition.

Different Ways of extending the ERP with clean core includes the following.

ABAP Extensibility on Stack

Extending an SAP ERP using ABAP on the stack is a key method. Even though there’s a focus on keeping the core clean, ABAP still allows for tightly integrated expansions. This means you can add new features without cluttering the system.

This option connects the primary user with side-by-side extension possibilities. On-stack developer extensibility allows you to create personalized ABAP code. It also accommodates partner extension projects that need integration with SAP S/4HANA data, transactions, or applications, using a limited ABAP version. This option suits extension projects that surpass the capabilities of key user extensions.


Key User (In-app) Extensibility

SAP Fiori extensibility apps enable business experts or citizen developers to customize user interfaces, processes, email templates, and forms using a low-code/no-code approach. Consequently, these users, knowledgeable in business processes and configuration, can easily incorporate extensions without needing extensive coding skills. Moreover, this approach democratizes the customization process, allowing more users to contribute to the development of business applications.

While some development skills are helpful for creating custom objects and implementing logic with the cloud ABAP web editor, they are not strictly required. Therefore, even those with minimal programming experience can still achieve significant customization. Additionally, the intuitive design of SAP Fiori extensibility apps further simplifies the process, ensuring that users can make changes efficiently.

Side-by-side Extensibility

For other loosely-coupled extension scenarios that integrate with the extended SAP S/4HANA system, extensions operate on the separated SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP). This model, therefore, is the favored choice for developing extensions that are both loosely coupled and seamlessly integrated with SAP S/4HANA data, transactions, or applications. Consequently, it offers a robust framework for creating extensions that enhance the functionality of SAP S/4HANA, ensuring smooth integration with minimal disruption.


At Intellect, our experienced consultants specialize in maintaining a clean core ERP system in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. We implement strategies such as fit-to-standard practices, zero-modifications policy, and various extensibility options to ensure your ERP remains agile, secure, and cloud-compliant. Trust Intellect to enhance your system’s performance and governance effectively.

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