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Optimize Custom Code to Drive Innovation

Refactor Your Customizations to Exploit Technology-Driven Advancements

by Dirk Wagener and Stefan Martin | SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 4

October 9, 2015

Customizing applications will often give organizations a competitive advantage but only if they are efficient and up to date. With help from SAP, companies can modernize — or refactor — their custom code to ensure it continually adds value rather than bogs down the system.


Many organizations rely on custom-built applications to run their business-critical processes that help drive a competitive advantage. Often, companies customize their systems to support the business processes that make a company unique; customization is in this way the differentiator that gives a business its identity. It can also create challenges for an organization that has not devoted the time or resources to ensure its custom code is up to date, is active, and doesn’t overlap with other code built for the same process. IT departments want to focus more on value-added activities that support business success and less on everyday maintenance tasks or an outdated or duplicate custom environment.

Customizations can be indispensable when they serve the business vision and strategy. To properly innovate, adopt new technologies, transform processes, and even potentially overhaul business models, organizations should stay on top of modernizing — or refactoring — their outdated custom code.

Evaluate, Improve, Maintain

SAP offers an end-to-end refactoring service that helps keep current the SAP-related custom solutions that support mission-critical processes, and ensure a smooth path toward innovation. It includes the evaluation, improvement, and maintenance of an organization’s custom code built on the SAP platform to help clear the way for IT and business transformation (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Steps in SAP’s end-to-end refactoring service

Evaluating the custom code footprint is an important first step to deliver the transparency an enterprise needs to move forward. The evaluation involves thorough qualitative and quantitative analysis in conjunction with customer workshops. A recent SAP assessment of customer systems discovered that in the average system, 65% of custom code objects had not been used in the previous four weeks, while 12% of the objects were identical or very similar to each other, and only 23% were supporting critical processes. The qualitative and quantitative evaluations as part of this service help make clear which code is bogging down the system. The outcome is a proposal for how code quality can be improved.

Code improvements are made in alignment with an organization’s business strategy and technology roadmap. The process of improving the code can range from cleanup to adopting new technologies, but in all cases the emphasis is on optimizing code for the specific deployment. Ongoing maintenance of a company’s custom code is another part of the refactoring service, so that SAP can maintain the customer’s system over time.

In an increasingly digital, service-based economy, organizations are taking a long look at their current IT landscapes with the realization that agility is paramount for the business to capitalize on opportunities to transform.

4 Key Refactoring Use Cases

Organizations reexamine their SAP-related custom code ultimately to better serve the business: If IT is running smoothly, business processes will be more efficient and IT will have more time to be able to innovate and support the business in achieving better business results. Companies seeking to operate at the highest levels typically engage in one of four refactoring use cases:

  1. Technical refactoring involves the functional and technical analysis of an organization’s custom-built code. In technical refactoring, companies implement improvements for the purposes of reducing complexity and improving code quality and maintainability on the existing platform.
  2. Like your business, SAP standard software evolves over time by adding new capabilities to address evolving market needs. It is important to periodically examine custom code that was once needed to see if those capabilities are now available in the standard software. By returning back to using standard software functionality, organizations drive greater efficiency, reduce complexity, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
  3. Customers looking to upgrade to a new release need to ensure that the upgrade runs seamlessly and that the solution is running optimally after the upgrade.  
  4. For customers adopting the SAP HANA platform, refactoring is a vital step to enable all custom-built code and custom applications to run properly on the platform and leverage its full potential.
Pave the Way for Business Transformation

These use cases support organizations regardless of which direction they need to go. All cases — from merely conducting an evaluation to determine the need to refactor to actually refactoring for a specific new platform or upgrade — result in tangible benefits to the business. Overall, simplification of outdated custom code helps pave the way for IT and business transformation, and can significantly lower TCO, free IT resources, and increase agility in the event of a system migration or upgrade.

In an increasingly digital, service-based economy, organizations are taking a long look at their current IT landscapes with the realization that agility is of paramount importance if the business is to capitalize on opportunities to transform. Custom solutions will continue to be an integral and differentiating part of a company’s unique fabric. A reexamination and refactoring of outdated and ineffective custom code is simply good practice. For more information, visit

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Dr. Dirk Wagener
Dirk Wagener

Dirk Wagener ( joined SAP in in 1994, working in consulting and then development roles. He has served roles for the SAP Customer Development organization in America and Latin America, and now leads the SAP Custom Development Support Program in Germany.

Stefan Martin
Stefan Martin

Stefan Martin ( joined SAP in 1996, working in various consulting roles, such as program and service account manager. He joined SAP Custom Development in 2012 and led the Refactoring program.

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