Frequently Asked Questions
In 1972, five former IBM employees founded the company they call SAP Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung ("System Analysis and Program Development").Taking the initial form of a private partnership under the German Civil Code, the company establishes its headquarters in Weinheim, Germany, and opens an office in nearby Mannheim. However, SAP's five founders spend most of their time in the data centers of their first customers, which include the German branch of Imperial Chemical Industries in Östringen.
Further information can be found on the SAP History page.
"SAP" stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing.
In the digital era, data is the “new currency” in an enterprise. Businesses that are able to harness their data faster and more effectively will be the ones that succeed through disruption.
As the world’s largest enterprise software company, SAP offers perspective on the massive scale and power of data. Our customers have a vast amount of enterprise data assets flowing through our SAP ERP and cloud applications and business networks every day. Our enterprise resource planning applications touch 77% of global transaction revenue, we run the world’s largest business network with over US$3.6 trillion in commerce annually, and we have over 200 million users of our cloud applications.
SAP software and technologies can deliver deep value to our customers by providing the tools to harness the power of the data flowing through their systems. Our vision for the intelligent enterprise is an event-driven, real-time business powered by intelligent applications and platforms. In this vision, enterprise data sits at the core of a virtuous cycle whereby:
- Enterprises will combine proprietary data assets from their internal systems of record with real-time, external data feeds to train intelligent algorithms.
- Intelligent algorithms will be embedded into core business processes to enable enterprises to increase their awareness of events and respond in real time.
- As the cycle repeats itself, enterprises will produce even richer datasets based on business outcomes that can be used to train the next generation of increasingly intelligent algorithms.
By embedding intelligence in core processes, businesses of all sizes will benefit from the automation of routine tasks and improved decision-making driven by advanced analytics.
Combining intelligent algorithms with empowered employees will allow companies to free up scarce resources to focus on what matters most – driving value for their customers. In this way, we can fulfill our promise of enabling our customers to Run Simple, while helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.
Organic growth remains the primary driver of our strategy. We will continue to invest in our own product development and technology innovation, improving the speed, number of projects, and innovations brought to market. We will also continue to acquire targeted, strategic, and “fill-in” technology and software to add to our broad solution offerings and improve coverage in key strategic markets. By doing so, we will strive to best support our customers’ needs for simplified operations. Additional information can be obtained here.
The change of legal form from a stock corporation under German law to a European Company was made to manifest SAP’s self-image as an international player with European roots. Presenting itself as a European Company thus reflects the importance of the Company’s European and international operations.
SAP offers its employees and managers various investment programs.
SAP’s purpose is to help the world run better and improve people's lives with sustainability at the core. Our objective is to create a positive economic, environmental, and social impact worldwide within planetary boundaries. We bring this to life by providing products and services that meet the sustainability challenges and opportunities of our customers (enabler) and leading by example in our own sustainable business operations and practices (exemplar). More information on the SAP Purpose and Sustainability Web site.
SAP has been on its sustainability journey for more than a decade and is a recognized leader as a sustainably run company. This has given us the insights and experience to respond to the increasing demands from customers, partners, investors, and employees for SAP to not only run our company more sustainably, but also to use our position to enable customers to run more sustainably, too. There is an urgency to this as many reports indicate that climate change, waste, and social inequalities are becoming increasingly acute problems around the world. We believe sustainability is the new frontier of digital transformation. We want to help customers reinvent themselves as intelligent, sustainable enterprises. We want to help them make sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable. We believe this is a long-term strategic imperative that will help SAP grow while helping our customers achieve their overall corporate ambitions which increasingly center around running sustainably.
SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises is a flexible solution bundle of sustainability-focused applications to help companies achieve holistic sustainability management. Companies can now integrate sustainability metrics seamlessly into their end-to-end business processes. We realize each company is at a different stage of implementing sustainable performance, so SAP Cloud for Sustainable Enterprises provides maximum flexibility for customers to choose which solutions and capabilities they want to incorporate into their sustainability management portfolio at the time that is right for them. The solutions can be broadly adopted for holistic management, or selectively implemented to operationalize specific areas of sustainability performance. The customizable suite is easy for companies to adopt with a single license, and SAP expert implementation support and our highly skilled partner ecosystem.
SAP’s products and services help deliver environmental and social impact on four dimensions including climate action, circular economy, social responsibility, and holistic steering and reporting.
- Holistic sustainability management: SAP’s sustainability and ESG reporting solutions contribute to a future where decisions in our global economy are made based on their sustainability impact. Example: SAP Sustainability Control Tower helps organizations connect their environmental, social, and financial data holistically so they can steer their business towards sustainability.
- Climate action: SAP’s climate change solutions contribute to a future with zero emissions. Example: SAP Product Footprint Management enables organizations to assess and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of their products and operations along their entire value chain.
- Circular economy: SAP’s circular economy solutions contribute to a future with zero waste. Example: SAP Responsible Design and Production enables organizations to make circularity a key principle of product design and production. It helps them re-use materials, protect resources, eliminate waste, and build regenerative businesses.
- Social responsibility: SAP’s social responsibility solutions contribute to a future with zero inequality. Example: SAP Business Network and our SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite provide the visibility needed to support organizations in integrating ethical and socially responsible sustainable business practices to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion across the entire value chain.
- The most sustainable companies across industries run SAP
- 97% of the greenest companies in the world run SAP
- 90% of the most socially responsible companies in the world run SAP
- SAP has the best ESG Score in the Software industry
- The most sustainable companies run SAP with 73% higher ESG Scores and 24% lower CO2 emissions
- The most sustainable companies run SAP S/4HANA with 50% higher ESG Scores
The data used comes largely from our internal Best Run Intelligence team which has licensed the S&P 500 ESG disclosure data set and has run analysis on the data. Many of the S&P 500 companies are SAP customers. Other data comes from commissioned research conducted by Oxford Economics.
Yes, we have a range of customers using our applications at various stages of maturity from full deployment to piloting new. Sustainability is a team sport. No company can do it alone. We support the actions of many visionary customers like Unilever and Hitachi as well as from Colgate and Anglian Water. We have customers adopting these solutions across geographies and across industries.
Global market analysis of CO2 emission efficiency (a measurement of CO2 emissions as a percent of revenue) indicates the gap between average and top performers by industry is 14%. SAP customers are responsible for 87% of total global commerce, they are also responsible for 84% of total global CO2 emissions. SAP can help customers reduce their emissions by up to 14%, or an equivalent of 5 billion tons annually.
SAP addresses sustainability, including climate action, as one of our key focus areas through a dual approach. As an enabler, we aim to provide products and services to our customers to reduce their carbon emissions and pave the way toward a low-carbon future together. As an exemplar, to live up to our responsibility and build climate resilience, we strive to lead by example by running our own business operations and practices more sustainably.
To get insights into how SAP addresses climate change with our three-fold approach “avoid-reduce-compensate,” please read this SAP News article and see the SAP Integrated Report. SAP’s environmental efforts and targets are also outlined in the Global Environmental Policy.
For an overview of how SAP embeds sustainability in our solution portfolio, please visit our Web site.
Since 2018, SAP reports in alignment with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. The topic of climate change-related risks is addressed in the chapter "Energy and Emissions" of our Integrated Report.
More than a decade ago, SAP set out on its sustainability journey with the objective to create positive economic, environmental, and social impact within planetary boundaries. Along the way, we have continuously added and raised financial as well as pre-financial targets and established ourselves as a front-runner in integrating economic, social, and environmental performance into how we measure and steer our business success holistically.
The latest announcement focuses on our commitment to achieve net-zero across our value chain by 2030. This moves forward our commitment by 20 years.
On our pathway towards net-zero, the next intermediate milestone is 2023, when SAP aims to be carbon neutral in its own operations – two years earlier than originally targeted. This includes all direct (Scope 1), indirect (Scope 2), and selected categories of value chain (Scope 3) carbon emissions, such as business flights, employee commuting, and external data centers (co-locations and hyperscalers). The potential for decarbonization can however be amplified considerably if we enhance our efforts along the entire value chain. In 2020, gross carbon emissions amounted to 12,300 kt along SAP’s entire value chain (including upstream and downstream emissions), compared to 135 kt net emissions for SAP’s own operations.
SAP is committed to protecting the environment and continuously improving our own environmental performance. Therefore, we are gradually introducing an EMS reflecting the ISO 14001 standard at SAP sites worldwide. An ISO 50001-certified energy management system is integrated with existing management systems at selected sites, such as SAP’s headquarters. View our ISO certificates on sap.com (go to “Energy and environmental management”).
SAP aspires to a world of zero waste and is eager to move to an interconnected, circular economy through ambitious enabler and exemplar activities. As an example, in July 2019, SAP launched the initiative ‘Beyond Single-Use Plastics” to phase out single-use plastics in our own operations, a project which concluded in June 2021. In 2020, at the World Economic Forum, SAP joined the Global Plastic Action Partnership to create a cleaner ocean by 2030 and became part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to pave the way to a circular economy.
We also manage our electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) responsibly by cooperating with international and local IT asset lifecycle partners that help us to refurbish, recycle, and sustainably dispose our discarded devices. Further details can be found on our Circular Economy Web site and our Integrated Report.
SAP also aims at helping its clients fighting against plastic pollution and becoming more circular. More about SAP solutions for Circular Economy can be found on sap.com.
Since 2012, we annually release an Integrated Report which combines our full-year financial, social, and environmental performance, allowing us to present a clear and holistic overview of what drives our company and our long-term success. The current SAP Integrated Report can be found at www.sapintegratedreport.com.
At SAP, we put a monetary value on how selected non-financial indicators have impacted our operating profit. For example, how well we engage with our employees and inspire them to commit to our purpose and strategy, support a healthy business culture, and succeed in reducing our carbon emissions. The inextricable interlinkage of financial, social, and environmental indicators is visualized in our connectivity map and key to our overall company success. More details can be found in our Integrated Report.
Building on our experience in connecting financial and non-financial measures, we co-founded the Value Balancing Alliance (VBA) in 2019 to support the development of a standardized impact measurement and valuation methodology that helps companies, investors, and other stakeholders understand, quantify and compare financial and non-financial performance. These insights enable companies to create business value beyond revenue or profit growth while taking into consideration the long-term impacts of business operations on the environment and society as a whole. Further details on SAP’s journey on holistic steering and reporting can be found here.
SAP uses the following three key measures: Customer Net Promoter Score (NPS), Employee Engagement Index, and carbon impact. Outlook and results for the current year can be found in the SAP Integrated Report.
In addition, SAP tracks further social and environmental indicators, such as women in management, employee retention, the Business Health Culture Index, energy consumption, and e-waste. Please review SAP’s interactive chart generator for employee and environmental data.
Since 2020, SAP’s executive short-term incentive (STI) compensation includes sustainability targets (sustainability KPIs) on top of our financial targets with a total weight of 20%. The sustainability KPIs are: Customer Net Promoter Score, which measures SAP’s customer loyalty; Employee Engagement Index, which measures SAP’s employee commitment, pride, and loyalty; and Carbon Impact, which measures SAP’s greenhouse gas emissions. See the SAP Compensation Report.
To select the topics to be included in our integrated reporting, we conducted a comprehensive materiality assessment in 2020, using an artificial intelligence and Big Data solution from Datamaran Limited that helped us build an evidence-based materiality matrix. For the first time, we assessed economic, social, and environmental topics in our reporting according to three criteria: importance to stakeholders; relevance to SAP’s business success; and magnitude of the impact on society, the environment, and the economy.
Yes, the social and environmental data and information included in SAP’s Integrated Report was prepared in accordance with the GRI Standards: Core option. Please see our latest GRI Content Index for further details. The GRI Content Index also reflects SAP’s Communication on Progress requested by the UN Global Compact. Furthermore, we have committed to several additional multilateral standards to cover a wide scope of responsibilities, stakeholder needs, and sustainability aspects:
SAP is committed to the highest standards of ethical business. We have a robust compliance framework to support employees in acting ethically and compliantly and within the law in all the markets in which we operate. The framework includes clear Policies, Codes, and a Global network of experts, all underpinned by a Global Code of Ethics & Business Conduct (the Code) which includes, amongst other topics, loyalty, bribery and corruption, and confidentiality.
SAP embraces the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and embedded the framework as a foundation to our strategic approach to sustainability. We use this framework to evaluate global progress – both for our roles as a role model and exemplar and as an enabler. Our contribution to the SDGs is a cross-company effort driven by experts from almost every board area and aligned through the internal SDG Network. Engagement with customers and other activities contributing to the SDGs are published in our continuously updated Web book “SAP and the UN Global Goals” and addressed in our Integrated Report, where we describe the potential positive and negative direct or indirect impacts of our company and of our products and services related to the SDGs.
As a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2000, SAP believes companies have a responsibility to respect human rights throughout all business operations. SAP is committed to respecting and promoting human rights across our operations, extended supply chain, and product lifecycle. We set high standards of fairness, diversity, and inclusion for ourselves, and expect all of our business partners to respect human rights and avoid complicity in any abuse.
- SAP Integrated Report 2021, chapter Human Rights and Labor Standards
- SAP Human Rights Commitment Statement
- SAP’s guiding principles for artificial intelligence (AI): AI Ethics and Society | SAP
- SAP Global AI Ethics Policy
- SAP Supplier Code of Conduct
- SAP’s commitment towards diverse suppliers and social enterprises: 5 & 5 by ‘25
Yes, learn more about SAP's sustainability awards and recognitions here. You can also access SAP’s ESG performance directly via the web sites of rating agencies such as: