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SAP for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

SAP Business One is a simple yet powerful integrated ERP solution provided by the world's largest ERP solution provider specifically for small and medium-sized businesses.

SAP aquired this suite of applications from Israeli company Top Manage in 2002. As of 2006 it is sold in at least 40 countries and SAP claims 9000+ installations.

SAP Business One consists of applications for Financial, Distribution, CRM, Manufacturing, MRP, HR and Services.
SAP provides optional add-ons at no extra charge for applications such as fixed assets, synchronisation with MS Outlook and advanced forms design. Perhaps the most exciting add-on in this category is the XL Reporter reporting tool which came about as a result of SAP's acquisition of iLytix in 2005. With preset metadata, a drag and drop design and over 80 starter reports, it is extremely easy to learn and use. It uses MS Excel for formatting and comes with a choice of ready-to-use templates or you can put your knowledge of Excel to work to create your own.
The scope of the product is further extended by over 100 third party add-ons. Some are developed using SAP's Software Development Kit which results in a consistent 'look and feel' to Business One. Some add-ons have their integration with Business One certified by SAP.

The product has a relatively modern and 2-tier architecture. It has won a design award for its user interface. It offers users a high level of flexibility with the ability to create a virtually unlimited number of user-defined fields and tables, user-configurable alerts and workflow processes. Users can control to a significant extent the display of data on transaction screens, configure look-up windows and set data access security. Most of this tailoring can be achieved with no formal IT skills.

Any company looking for integrated and real-time solution with a secure future should consider SAP Business One seriously. As it is supported by SAP, it benefits from the commitment and experience of the world's largest and most successful ERP software company.

While Business One is quick to implement and is affordable, because it is designed for small to medium sized businesses, it does not offer the same level of functionality of the high-end SAP products or even many tier-2 products. In most cases, though, the inherent flexibility of Business One allows a more acceptable work-around than may be expected if you are prepared to invest a bit more in customising the product.

As an example, the standard Business One Financial module does not provide a ready-to-use approval process for supplier payments i.e. a user who has access to creating a payment does not need to get another's approval before paying a supplier. Using SQL scripts and the built-in Alerts function, though, it is possible to provide a measure of control for this process.

Another example is that the Purchasing module of Business One does not formally support prior stages to a purchase order e.g. purchase indent, nor tracking. It starts directly from "Purchase Order". However the approval process provided for purchase orders means that an unpproved "purchase order" can be created. This can function as a "requisition" until it has been approved. Changes made to the "Purchase Order" during the process are fully tracked. Further work can be also be done with MRP and the Planning Data in the Inventory module to manage purchasing requirements.

You can define a catalogue that matches item codes to part numbers used by suppliers and customers but there is no link between Items and Business partners directly out of the box. Again such links can be defined using the customisation tools.

Some releases have been error prone, especially when compared with older or legacy products that are having far less development than Business One. But stability is as good or better than for comparable, new generation, offerings. A good general policy for any product is not to be the first to upgrade to the new version - leave this to others.

Third party add-ons should be added carefully. Apart from the cost, they will require additional system resources to maintain an acceptable performance level.

In short, don't expect Business One to do everything. But speak to a SAP Business One consultant before ruling it out and you may be pleasantly surprised to find there is a workable solution to your perceived gaps.



cornel said...

I found the article very informative. I agree with your comments that SAP Business One should be evaluated in a manner that will clearly define if company’s business processes could be accommodated or not.

As a SAP Business One implementation house, we have had a lot of success in utilising a structured approach to achieve this.

Cornel Schoeman
Britton Solutions

Anonymous said...

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