Deciphering SAP – Part II. Add-ons
By Cristina Gil Gallo
September 27, 2020

This post is the part two of the trilogy “Deciphering SAP”:

  1. SAP Modules and End-to-End processes: An overview of the areas of expertise inside the Core ERP of SAP.
  2. Add-ons: The standard SAP functionality can be extended with add-ons (this post).
  3. Other SAP Products: Besides the Core ERP, SAP commercializes other products. They can run as standalone solutions or integrated with other applications.

To provide some context for this post, I’ll bring back the topic of the job openings. It’s not uncommon to see that companies also require experience in IS-U or IS-A or OpenText VIM or even Tableau…You’ll be right in thinking an application like Tableau is not inherently part of SAP. However, SAP has partnerships with external vendors such as Tableau and Microsoft. These vendors offer external applications that are integrated with SAP to provide solutions to customer problems. In the words of Julie Andrews: Let’s start at the very beginning.

An add-on is a software used to provide more capability to an existing application. You’ve probably come across add-ons in web browsers such as Chrome. The first one that comes to mind is “Google Translate”. Have you ever used it? It almost feels native to the host application. Translating instantly to your choice language without the need to change the screen. This is an example of software that is relatively well integrated with an application.

Likewise, in SAP, we also have add-ons. They are used to enhance a standard product offering. The add-ons could be in the form of a plug-in, an Industry Solution, or a customer-specific development project. Let’s dive in for more detail.


The plug-ins are small software that enhance a specific functionality. They can be provided by SAP or by third party companies.

If you are interested, there are two libraries where you can find plug-ins officially recognized by SAP.

  • Fiori Apps Library. Plug-ins commercialized and supported by SAP.
  • SAP Certified solutions. Plug-ins created by third party vendors (partners) that have been certified by SAP. It is important to remark that SAP is not responsible of these add-ons. For installation and support, you would need to contact the vendor directly.

Before upgrading your SAP solution, it is important to verify that your activated Plug-in will still be compatible with your version of SAP product. It is not a bad idea to contact the vendors directly. That will help ensure that the functionality will continue running smoothly.

Industry Solutions (IS-)

They are also referred to as “Verticals”.

For more context, the first main revolution of SAP was creating a standard solution that could be used for all their customer industries. However, over the years, the strategic offerings were adjusted to offer a more tailored service per industry. SAP realized that companies in the same industry had common requirements that were not covered by the standard solution. Before releasing an industry solution, SAP works together with the leader companies in that specific industry. By building a solution for common problems in an industry, SAP is able to provide an industry solution for companies in that industry.

These add-ons cannot be referred to as a plug-in because of their scope. An Industry Solution is not enhancing a specific functionality; it provides enhancements in many areas of the ERP.

Below you will find a list with the 25 Industry Solutions existing today. Together with the list, I included some customers that according to SAP, have adopted it.

Upon activation of an Industry Solution new tables, transactions and configuration options are created inside the ERP. This opens the way for new sub-areas of expertise. One such example is TSW (Trader’s and Scheduler’s Workbench). This is a sub-module inside the Logistics Execution module of the Industry Solution for Oil and Gas (IS-OIL). Do you know any other examples? You could help others by leaving a comment below.

Cristina Gil Gallo
Cristina specializes in SAP SD consulting holding a certification in S/4 HANA Sales On Premise. She started her career in SAP in 2005. She is particularly interested in international projects. She holds a BSc in Industrial Engenieering from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia.


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