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SAP development tools on slow march to standardization

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What if I told you that to deploy a new time entry system for your workforce, you would have to install and maintain a large, proprietary software installation on every computer of every employee at your company? This software would work differently from other software, so a large training investment would need to be made for every employee. And the software is not used at most other companies, so you’ll usually need to spend significant time training every new employee. You would justifiably look to a different vendor with a more standard, probably web-based time entry system.

For a long time, these were exactly SAP’s expectations for its user-facing software and for SAP development tools. You would have to install the SAP GUI or NetWeaver Business Client for many applications. Even for web-based interfaces, if your standard browser was Google Chrome, due to security and performance concerns, you would have to install Microsoft Internet Explorer because SAP interfaces only worked on IE.

This stance has changed in the last few years, starting with the introduction of SAP’s Web GUI over a decade ago, and culminating with a browser-only, standards-compliant approach in the S/4HANA ERP platform, which supports major browsers.

The change is a win for customers for a few reasons. It lets them choose the right tools for the job. Is security a top priority? Use Chrome. Need legacy support? Use Microsoft IE or Edge. Own some Macs? Use Safari.

In addition, it lets SAP users immediately benefit from the furious pace of third-party browser development if they so choose, and it enables scenarios that SAP may not have considered, including the use of different operating systems and form factors.

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