Using standard SAP versus customisation

SAP, Tech

I believe there is a lot of confusion around the use of standard SAP versus customisation. There are many advocates for the use standard SAP and the benefits offered.  However, there is no doubt standard SAP also has its limitations.  So as a consultant, when should you use standard SAP and when should you customise, and how do you decide between the two?

I believe as a general approach the use of standard SAP should take precedence.  As SAP has evolved during the past 17 years (my experience), more and more functionality and capability have been added.  Finding this functionality, however, is not always an easy task.  As such, I have included what I believe to be a methodical approach to looking for what is available as standard in SAP.  The suggestions below are by no means exhaustive, but provide a useful framework for exploring standard functionality available within SAP.


Explore the SAP area menus and the standard configuration tree

  • Explore the use of exits SMOD/CMOD
  • Explore the use of events
  • Google – how do I perform “X” in SAP
  • Read online forums
  • Ask colleagues/fellow experts
  • Download cookbooks
  • Use standard SAP development transactions, that find programs, function modules, BAPI’s, tables, etc. associated with packages
  • Search OSS
  • Raise an OSS message

Hopefully, the above will help you find most of the standard SAP functionality.


The use of standard SAP has numerous advantages:

  • Upgrading the system is faster and simpler, with less risk;
  • The processes are supported by SAP and the release of SAP notes/patches;
  • The transactions are built into SAP security profiles;
  • Many extractors to BI have been developed using standard SAP objects and tables.


So when would you customise?

If you have completed an exhaustive search (above) there are a few possible outcomes:

  • SAP has functionality that meets your requirement – of course, in this instance, you would use the SAP functionality
  • SAP has functionality close to your requirement, but it is not an exact match – this is the most difficult of the outcomes.  In this instance, where possible, it is best to use the SAP functionality on the provision that the accessory changes are not overtly cumbersome.  Sometimes this is a judgement call based on experience as to which option to pursue, standard or custom.  There have been numerous times in my career where the rigidity of standard SAP left me with no alternative but to customise.
  • SAP has no functionality to meet your requirement

A few examples include:

  • The creation of a costing/time entry system before the release of standard SAP functionality CATS.
  • The development of upload function to load multiple single values into either a table or selection parameter screen.  I built this with a developer before SAP releasing it as standard functionality.

A few final key points I would suggest to make the most of your SAP system:

  • Try and patch your SAP system on a regular basis as SAP provides both fixes and enhancements.
  • Consider activating new SAP modules or functionality.
  • Consider moving custom objects onto standard SAP functionality during SAP upgrades.
  • Never modify SAP standard code unless SAP recommends doing so.  A consultant I worked with once did this, and it took several months to isolate the problem as the modification was done, deep down in the bowels of a SAP function module and not recorded or communicated after they had left.


I hope you found this article informative.  Please feel free to email me with further suggestions or improvements. My email is