This is possibly the most commonly asked question! Despite the fact that most people in the world interact with SAP on a daily basis, there is an incredible lack of understanding and visibility of what SAP is!
SAP AG is a German company which produces computer software for businesses. It has a variety of product ranges, but the basic tenet is to automate the core of many businesses. This can be confusing because almost every business uses SAP software differently and it is often highly tailored to the needs of that business.
That said, the core of SAP’s business comes from Financials. This means the automation of accounting and book-keeping activities like the General Ledger, Financial Controlling etc. This might sound simplistic but if you have 100,000 employees in 50 countries and 30 languages, it gets quickly complex!
From there, SAP extended the core of Financials to various other parts of the business – including managing Stock, Logistics, Employees (HR), Procurement, Supply Chain and other core parts to many businesses. They also built templates (called Industry Solutions or IS) for 24 industries from Retail to Pharmaceuticals that are tailored to the needs of that industry. For instance if you use IS Retail, it is aware of things like colours and styles of garments.
Expansion beyond the core
In addition to this in recent years, SAP have built and acquired software to extend the reach – for instance Business Objects, which has excellent software for producing reports and analysis, and Sybase, which has software to allow access to SAP via mobile devices like Apple’s iPad.