SAP main flows and modules

In general, the SAP modules are represented in four SAP main flows:

  • Lead-to-Cash (Lead, Opportunity, Quote, Sales Order, Fulfillment, Invoice)
  • Source-to-Pay (Sourcing, Contracting, Procurement, Payment, Analytics)
  • Recruit-to-Retire (Plan, Staff, Onboard, Work, Travel, Pay & Close)
  • Design-to-Operate (Design, Planning, Production, Logistics, Operation)
SAP main flows
Figure: SAP main flows

The main flows of SAP consist of business functions that are supported by the SAP modules. Although these are the 4 main flows, the implementation and naming of these flows can differ per organization.

SAP Financial Management is a combination of two modules (Line of Business), i.e. Finance Accounting (FI) and Controlling (CO). Under Finance in SAP and at an enterprise level, the following modules take part:

FI – Finance
CO – Controlling
IM – Investment Management
TR – Treasury
EC – Enterprise Controlling

SAP FI (Financial Accounting) is accountable for tracking the flow of financial data across the organization in a controlled manner and integrating all the information for effective strategic decision-making.

SAP CO (Controlling) module facilitates coordinating, monitoring, and optimizing all the processes in an organization. It controls the business flow in an organization. This module helps in analyzing the actual figures with the planned data and in planning business strategies.

Some important financial elements managed in CO are:

  • Cost elements
  • Revenue elements

Sales & Distribution Management (SD) is one of the most important modules in SAP. It has a high level of integration complexity. SAP SD is used by organizations to support sales and distribution activities of products and services, starting from enquiry (lead) to order, and then ending with delivery.

In all these processes, multiple modules are involved such as FI (Finance Accounting), CO (Controlling), MM (Material Management), PP (Production Planning), LE (Logistics Execution), etc., which shows the complexity of the integration involved.

Material Management (MM) deals with movement of materials via other modules like logistics, supply chain management, sales and delivery, warehouse management, production, and planning.

Production Planning (PP) deals with planning processes, such as capacity planning, material planning, execution of production order, bill of material and goods movement. SAP PP module handles the master data required for Bill of Materials (BOMs) activity, work center and routing, and keeps it in a separate component.

Quality Management (QM) is an integral part of logistic management, and it is used to perform quality functions such as quality planning, quality assurance, and quality control, at various stages such as incoming material stage, in-process manufacturing process stage, and after production as well.

QM is integrated with other SAP modules like SAP Material Management (MM), Production Planning (PP), and Plant Maintenance (PM).

Plant Maintenance (PM) is a software product that manages all maintenance activities in an organization. Plant Maintenance module consists of key activities to include inspection, notifications, corrective and preventive maintenance, repairs, and other measures to maintain an ideal technical system.

Using SAP PM, you can perform automatic repairs and facilitate maintenance requests in an organization. It allows you to record problems in SAP system, plan labor and material activities, and to record and settle the cost.

Project Systems (PS) performs project and portfolio management. It helps you to manage the project life cycle starting from structuring to planning, execution, until the project completion.

Project system is closely integrated with other SAP modules like logistics, material management, Sales and Distribution, Plant Maintenance, and Production planning module.

Human Resources (HR) also known as Human Capital Management (SAP HCM), SAP Human Resource Management System (SAP HRMS) or SAP Human Experience Management (SAP HXM).

Human capital management products from SAP can help your organization hire and retain the right people, manage the work environment, streamline HR processes, ensure legal compliance, and create a people-centric organization.

Master Data Governance (MDG) The SAP Master Data Governance application provides ready-to-run, domain-specific master data governance, so you can locally own and consolidate or centrally create, change, and distribute master data across your enterprise system landscape, like business partners, material master data and financial master data.

Master Data Governance is very important within an SAP landscape as it connects to all other available modules by providing relevant and necessary data elements.

Industry-specific solutions

Based on the main flows and modules, SAP offers a great number of industry-specific solutions that contain additional industry-specific functionality. Examples are SAP Retail (for retail organizations), SAP ISU (for utility organizations), SAP Oil, Gas & energy (for energy companies) and more.