Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Jan 3 2012   1:38AM GMT

Highlights of SAP ERP – useful for building the Business Case



Posted by: Sasirekha R
Tags:
Duet
Enterprise
ERP
Integration
Microsoft
Oracle
SAP

Why SAP?

After a long debate on SAP vs Oracle, SAP was chosen as the ERP for a Microsoft-centric organization. The following are the points used to build the business case for SAP: 

SAP has depth of Features set and software functionality; SAP Functionality is hard to beat; (Gartner, Forrester, Customers, ERP Asia, ERPFacts.com, TEC – Technology Evaluation Center)

SAP as a brand carries weight as the company is a global leader and benefits from over four decades of building and supporting sophisticated business applications. SAP continues to focus its ERP applications on maximizing resources and reducing costs that are customized for businesses and industries. SAP has evolved its applications to have very deep industry focused solutions.

SAP has built much of this functionality in-house. SAP modules are well integrated in such a way as to provide speedy and accurate transaction and has excellent cross-module features.

SAP is a great financial tool that integrates all corporate operations. The organizations with SAP can find out where the money is being spent – instantly and real-time. Importing historical data into SAP is slightly difficult – and in that sense choosing the Financial year beginning is a good decision.

According to TEC, In FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, BUDGETING, COSTING, AND BILLING – (that includes Budgeting and Transactions; Project Billing; Invoice Generation; Project Costing; Capital Assets; Resource Sharing; and others) – SAP as well as ORACLE score 100%.

SAP provides comprehensive software and solutions to help simplify transitions to global standards – IFRS or XBRL reporting – that help companies to increase transparency in their financial reporting as well as meet regulatory compliance.

Retrieving data from the ERP systems and formatting output has been reported as one of the most problematic areas by users. SAP has tremendous reporting capabilities, As one user points out “Name a report that you want, and a qualified configurer can build it for you.” SAP allows saving report as templates for reuse and sharing with other users. SAP provides thousands of built-in reports and Crystal Reports / BusinessObjects Edge can be used for creation of new reports.

SAP is highly rated when it comes to Software flexibility and extreme configurability – reports, look-up tables, interface, localization of process etc. are configurable (as against expensive customization); SAP architecture is incredibly strong with a process-centric focus and a foundation that operates in real time communication with enterprise wide business processes that is highly flexible. SAP can automate entire processes by maintaining clean master data and also providing huge flexibility on how you want to decide to automate or semi -automate processes.

Third Party Integration is a key differentiator for SAP; According to TEC, SAP scores 100% as against Oracle’s score of 75% in 3rd party integration.

SAP can be integrated easily to Microsoft Office Products. And this is very useful in companies that use Microsoft Excel heavily – to extract and analyze data. SAP provides native integration with Excel.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (Dec 2010) recognizes SAP as a market leader (one of the two products in that quadrant) for product-centric mid-market companies – in both its “ability to execute” and its “completeness of vision.”

According to ERPFacts.com, SAP tops the list of “top 10 ERP Softwares” (http://www.erpfacts.com/top-10-erp-software.htm).

Gartner says SAP is an ideal solution for companies at the middle andupper end of the SME scale. (whereas Oracle is in the Challenger);

From the perspective of global penetration, ability to scale, market share and commitment, SAP is the strongest solution in the Market. Compared to this, Oracle Roadmap – especially as it is moving towards Fusion (expected to be ready around 2013) is not clear.

The ease of use is an issue with Oracle ERP solution – and it doesn’t have good drag and drop across multiple windows (Source: ERPFacts). Customers in various forums complain that User Interface of Oracle is not very attractive. Customers have described that Oracle ERP UI as hard to use. Also the personalization of screen typically requires a person with IT skills (Source: Gartner);

In implementation duration, surveys show that Oracle has a slightly lower duration compared to SAP. But Oracle’s Referenced Customers pointed out that their accelerated implementation was too rapid and after go-live they had to redo various design solutions; Improved speed resulted in lower overall quality;

SAP is one of the broadest and deepest solutions in the market and its best practices and the fast start program reduce the effort needed for the early phases of an implementation. Customers also benefit fromthe extensive expertise of SAP’s partner network According to customers, SAP’s fast start program has proved its value – e.g., system configuration and easier installation.

SAP is continually working on reducing the overall complexity by delivering pre-packaged best practices. SAP’s new Easy Access menu is extremely functional, and features that to let you find a menu path from the transaction code! Now SAP has got more “helpful” help. New user interfaces makes ERP adoption and collaboration easier. Integration with productivity tools like Microsoft Office is progressing and expected to reduce the Overall complexity of SAP.

SAP offers a true, n-tier distributed architecture – with no dependence on any database. In Product technology factors that includes Synchronization and Replication, Implementation and Training, Technical Fit, Cross-module Features, – SAP scores 92.16% as against Oracle’s score of 76.10; (Source: TEC)

SAP offers a proprietary NetWeaver architecture as an SOA (Service Oriented) and XML foundation. SAP has excellent Workflow and business process automation capabilities. Gartner points out that SOA and BPM prove their value in packaged applications in the midmarket.

SAP UI is enhanced now which allows for integrated analytics and some Web 2.0 features. SAP also has good integration with SharePoint.

Bottom-line:

SAP enables everyone looking at the same information, real-time → numerous possibilities and opportunities to become better informed and more efficient →”higher return on information”.

The learning curve is the only drawback, and with proper planning a surmountable difficultly. SAP functionality and flexibility makes it worth the learning.

As one customer aptly puts it “SAP is the Ferrari of ERP systems and SAP demands that you train people to understand just how flexible and powerful it is.”

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