SAP: A Guide for Administrative Assistants

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SAP for administrative assistants

This article provides some tips for administrative assistants using SAP.

But before that, I have a question for you…

At home, how do you manage your, or everyone’s, schedule?

Or is there someone else who organises everything?

Maybe it is still your mother! Or do you use a family planner? A calendar handmade by one of the children?

Maybe post-it notes on the fridge?

You can’t run a company on post-it notes

You can run a company on SAP-ERP. What is it? Let’s start by understanding ERP first.

Enterprise Resource Planning

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a system of IT applications. It is vital for large-scale information management (data) and a god-send for the company’s staff.

So how does it work? All kinds of information from various departments are gathered, stored, and managed by a single server.

This centralized system allows managers to know the overall situation of the company, in real-time, in the blink of an eye, with a few mouse clicks!

This includes lots of diverse information as production volumes, purchases/sales/inventories, finances, payroll, the number of customers, suppliers or turnover.

And the company’s different subsidiaries can be connected from anywhere in the world.

Some of the most known Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software systems are SAP ERP, Oracle netSuite-Oracle ERP, Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo, ERPNext, Compierre.

SAP: System Application Product

SAP is the company that, by most categories, is the market leader in ERP. It was started by five ex-IBM engineers in 1972 in Germany.

The scale of this software is huge. It offers some 16,000 applications.

So, how does an admin assistant approach such as a large application on day one? It is easier than you think.

How to approach SAP software (or, how not to stress about facing multiple applications)

First of all, knowledge of “ERP software” is added value to an admin assistant’s CV. Fine, it is probably indispensable for our professional careers.

However, it is impossible to know all of the options. Each company chooses its own software support and the range of applications to manage the various areas of the company.

That being said, highlighting one’s transferable skills is important for an admin assistant. It is an added value for an experienced assistant to be able to demonstrate an ability to adapt and learn or have experience in successful “on-the-job” training. They will have the trust of HR that they can quickly learn the ropes and quickly become 100 percent operational.

How to master SAP?

Mastering is a big word. Keep it for the IT engineers.

If a company uses SAP-ERP, it would have been designed and implemented by a bunch of experts. This is done by analyzing and defining the goals for the company’s SAP platform.

Just be confident you have the right menu with the specific applications for your needs in front of you. Confidence is an important step. And then it is simply about checking out the personalised menu.

The first time I used SAP, I just focused on training not just to increase my knowledge, but also to understand the massive possibilities it has to make work more efficient.

You don’t have to be a geek or an IT expert nor even know about the 16,000 options available.

To understand any piece of software requires a bit of practice, a willingness to learn, and an acceptance that the system is there to help, not hinder.

But what makes SAP special compared to other ERPs?

The interfaces and visual appearance differ between SAP setups. Some are graphic, tree-like menus and/or drop-down menus. Many have tables, fill-in-the-blank boxes. The general accessibility remains the same though.

SAP is versatile. I don’t want to keep mentioning it and getting you worried, but those 16,000 applications are powerful. The good news is that you are not obliged to know all of them! Remember, a customized menu will be available according to the sector of work in the company. That is your first point of entry. Create your favorite menu, gathering all your personal choices of applications to facilitate navigation through the system. And don’t worry about accidentally going into files outside of your department; SAP is generally configured to your professional needs. You won’t accidentally delete important accounting files!

A final word

Like learning to walk, nothing is acquired on the first day.

Good basic notions – and the daily practice of the system – will allow you to assimilate it and, in a short period of time, begin to enjoy it.


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Simone Bijoux ferlito Simone Bijoux ferlito

An Assistant's job is not just about hitting performance targets, it is about how you get there. Quality support is a question of dedication, reliability and customer service.

Since 1997, I've worked as Assistant or Executive Assistant in Family Offices, focused on supporting my managers in their day-to-day activities, both professional and personal.

From prioritizing tasks, managing diaries, filtering calls and organizing and updating accurate detailed records to taking some responsibility when deputizing for my managers, I help them make the best use of their time. I act as the point of contact, the liaison between my manager and different departments, clients, or service providers, and ensure the efficient flow of internal or external information.

Apart from the variety of the work, what I most love in my job is having the privilege of being able to understand and meet the particular wishes of clients from all over the world. I adapt to their cultures, understand their points of view and how they would like to be assisted, and then offer a high level of service.

This has helped me grow personally and also improved my knowledge of different international jurisdictions. I have always worked with respect, diplomacy and discretion and am motivated by the gratitude I get from my clients, colleagues and managers for my hard work which helps us obtain results and build success.

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