SAP has forged its corporate identity in the large enterprise space, serving the likes of Coca Cola and Dow Chemical. But, while attending SAP’s Sapphire user event last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Andreas Wolfinger, Global Head of Solution Management and Product Management for SAP Business One, and Jennifer Schulze, Director SME Solutions Marketing (who I interviewed in this SMB Spotlight video) and get an update on SAP Business One , which may be SAP’s best kept secret.
In a nutshell, SAP Business One is designed from the ground up to meet the needs of small businesses and departments and divisions of large businesses. Geared to organizations with limited or no IT resources, SAP Business One offers a unified business management solution that integrates core business functions, including financials, sales, customer relationship management, inventory, and operations. Also included are embedded analytics, ad hoc queries, and standard reports, and integration with SAP Crystal Reports software. Because SAP Business One is built as a unified solution, it can help small businesses get the synergy they need across different business functions, streamline processes, and cut down on redundant data entry and errors.
SAP offers the solution in 40 countries and 25 languages—providing coverage that few other small business ERP vendors can rival. SAP Business One also boasts about 550 add-on solutions, many of which provide industry-specific functionality.
Business One is a packaged solution that customers can run on-premise, but is also available in hosted and hosted subscription offerings. It has a very small footprint, which enables smaller companies to run the solution on a laptop instead of a server. Business One customers are typically up and running in 2 to 8 weeks. Available via SAP Business One partners, pricing (including software license and implementation) typically starts at about $20,000 for five users.
To expand awareness and extend its market reach, SAP introduced the SAP Business One Starter Package in May. The starter package offers a fast, affordable, low-risk on ramp even for very small businesses. It includes pre-configured administration, financials, sales, purchasing, and inventory processes and implementation services for up to 5 users. Pricing starts at under $2,000 U.S., and companies go live in 3 to 10 days. When and if you need to add more users or functionality, you can upgrade to the standard edition of SAP Business One, without having to migrate data, learn a new application or re-train users.
Despite its small size, SAP Business One can also take advantage of sophisticated technology that can provide businesses with a competitive edge. For instance, I was surprised to learn that SAP has Business One running directly on HANA, SAP’s column-based, in-memory database, in its labs. HANA enables applications to zip through calculations for millions of records in just fractions of a second. According to SAP, this is valuable even for companies that don’t have to crunch through huge volumes of data. For example, in-memory technology will also improve the performance of the application. Though not yet ready for prime time, SAP plans to introduce Business One In-Memory Database with the release of the 9.x family, slated for early 2012.
Small businesses have very diverse needs and constraints, and Business One won’t fit the bill for every small business. However, small businesses that want a flexible, capable integrated, on-premise business suite may be pleasantly surprised to learn about–and investigate–what SAP Business One has to offer.