Changing “Must Be” to “There Is”

Feature Article | October 15, 2003 by admin

What is it about owners of small to midsize businesses that makes them so optimistic? Throughout his interviews with customers, Kevin Young, vice president of field marketing for SAP America, heard the same slogan: “There must be a better way.” A better way to organize and manage financials. A better way to connect the front office with the back office. A better way to take the pulse of the business.
What caused customers to change from “must be” to “there is?”
Young knew that the SAP Business One staff and partners were excited about the business management software for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). He knew that SAP had listened to business owners, and had used its 30+ years of ERP experience to develop a product that met their needs. He knew there were many competitive, but not comparable, products in the small and midsize market space, and he also knew that a lot of potential customers thought that SAP developed software only for the FORTUNE 50, not the FORTUNE 50,000.
What he didn’t know was why business owners chose SAP Business One. He decided to stop surmising and start talking with the experts – owners of small and midsize businesses who had recently purchased SAP Business One.

Is there a better way?

In August 2003, Young contacted customers and talked with them about their recent decision to purchase SAP Business One. What did the companies have in common? They were all small companies ($2 – $30 million in revenue), but all were growing fast and, characteristically, optimistic and with big plans for the future.
Growth brought changes. Some had outgrown their basic bookkeeping software and were looking for an improved financial system with better reporting capabilities. Others wanted to get more productivity from their current staff; in other words, do more with fewer people. Some were looking to work smarter, not harder.
Let’s look at those who said, “There’s got to be a better way.” What did they want to change? They had accounting systems or custom-built applications that just weren’t delivering anymore. One customer felt that the limited functionality of his current system was hampering his company’s ability to grow. Others felt that the cost of ownership was just too high.

  • “We had to pay $180 per hour to change an invoice layout.”
  • “Today we have a dozen positions to make up for the shortcomings of our system.”
  • “Last year we paid over $40,000 in IT fees. Even simple tasks had to be done by a consultant making $130 per hour.”

Inflexible systems were taking their toll on these small business owners. Simple tasks such as getting a report or making a minor change could not be done by anyone within the company, which meant hiring consultants. If the software was proprietary, there were only a few programmers left in the world who understood the language or the homegrown database management system. Often a consulting firm sent out its greenest recruits, leaving some business owners feeling like they were running a training camp for programmers instead of a business.
And a few business owners said they weren’t really looking to replace their current software. But they were beginning to “feel the pain” of a system that just didn’t quite fit the way they wanted to do business. As one reported, “We’ve had this system seven years and it still can’t relate sales back to the lead.”

What nailed the decision?

Young was surprised to learn that small business owners were looking only as far as financial software packages. However, once they found out about SAP Business One, their outlook broadened. There’s a lot more to running a business that just keeping the books. Tasks like tracking orders and shipments. Staying on top of the sales pipeline. Monitoring the status of projects. Keeping the shelves stocked. According to Young, SAP Business One may not have been what these small business owners were looking for initially, but they soon realized it’s what they needed.
Lower total cost of ownership with all the functionality small business owners need right out of the box, without months of customization. Built on SQL, SAP Business One is an open, flexible, and stable system. Users can run standard reports or perform their own ad hoc queries. They can even add their own data fields, without having to hire an IT team. As one owner stated, “My main motivation is to fire the consultants. Their fees are highway robbery and they are learning on my dime.“
And because they don’t have to spend time working on the system, employees are free to concentrate on the business. Another owner stated, ”I want to free my people up to work on strategic issues that are important to management.”
Broad and integrated solution that combines front-office and back-office operations, like sales and accounting, into one package, at a cost that’s lower than most competitors in the SMB space. Our new customers say it best.

  • “It has features that are critical to helping me run my business better.”
  • “One system that can handle an order from start to finish.”
  • “It’s a new corporate discipline. With embedded CRM, we have a repository of all customer information in one place.”

Easy to use, real-time reporting with functions and features that deliver information that everyone in the business needs and can access easily. “The CEO can be taught in five minutes. Instead of asking someone to run a report, she can do it herself.” According to one business owner, real-time reporting means, “I have the pulse of the company at any second, from the smallest order to the amount of cash on hand. It gives me everything I need to run my company.”
Drag&Relate technology gives users easy access to all desired information by simply dragging field contents from one window to another. Users don’t have to know where the data is stored or the menu path to access a specific report. For example, a clerk can drag a customer name from a delinquency report to the payment history report to determine if the customer has a history of late payments.
Local service and support. SAP Business One is supported by an experienced, well-trained network of partners that have been carefully selected to provide geographic, industry, and product coverage. Small and midsize business owners are flat-out busy. They don’t have time to wait for the consultant to fly in from Boston when they’re Boise. And they want someone who understands their business – and knows the lay of the land. SMBs are not just smaller versions of larger enterprises. They have unique needs that must be addressed by a business partner who has years of experience in this space.

Yes, there is a better way

Business is easier – and more profitable – when software, technology, and tools are integrated and work the way your employees do. When sales, purchasing, and inventory are integrated with financials. When employees, partners, and customers can share information in real-time.
Customers have told us why they chose SAP Business One to run their business.

  • Lower cost of ownership
  • Superior out-of-the-box functionality with embedded functions and integrated applications
  • Real-time reporting
  • Local support

SAP listens to its customers and its partners. We’re tracking the experiences as customers install and use SAP Business One. And with use and experience come suggestions for improvement. SAP monitors customer satisfaction and evaluates every request for improvement. It determines if the improvement can be easily made in the core product, or if a partner product handles the function.
We take our commitment to small and midsize business owners very seriously. If you’ve bought SAP Business One, and would like to add your thoughts, contact Kevin Young by phone (+1 610-661-3651) or e-mail (Kevin.Young@sap.com). He’ll be glad to talk with you.

Further information:

www.sap.com/smb

Brenda Mackay

Brenda Mackay

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