Getting off to a Good Start with SAP Business One

How many SAP partners and customers do you currently have worldwide who sell and/or use SAP Business One?

The figures were updated for CeBIT 2004. At the current time, we have more than 3000 customers and 450 partners worldwide. Added to these are 15 contracts with key accounts who use SAP Business One in their national branches. These are orders with at least 200 to 300 uses for multiple sites.

How many “normal” customers does one key account equate to? And are these orders still processed via local partners?

One key account generally equates to around 15 to 50 “normal” customers. Our smallest has five branches and the largest up to 40. They include, for example, L’Oreal, Chevron, Endress & Hauser, Edding and two tire manufacturers. The in-house IT departments operated by these key accounts, known as Competence Centers, can become SAP partners. However, one thing that needs to be taken into account with these CCs is the fact that, depending on where the subsidiary is based, it is not always expedient for the company to implement SAP Business One itself. Consequently, the company generally retains control of project management, but seeks out a local partner. Key accounts also welcome the involvement of an experienced project manager for such orders – one who understands both mySAP and SAP Business One and can therefore provide support for a worldwide roll-out.

Are there any industries where SAP Business One sells particularly well?

Two thirds of SAP Business One customers today are in the services sector. Demand is also particularly high from companies in the manufacturing sector that want to link up to a company head office. Consequently, release 2004 in August will also include Material Requirement Planning (MRP) functions in SAP Business One. These new MRP functions will give the product the basic functions required by small manufacturing companies.

So this probably means that there is immense potential for growth in markets such as China?

That’s right. Our colleagues in China won 250 new customers in just two months at the end of last year. Among the companies interested in using SAP Business One on an international level are very many who are headquartered in Europe or the USA, but have their production facilities in Eastern Europe or Asia. However, classical countries such as the USA, Germany and Italy currently still have a very large role to play, since there are very high numbers of companies in these countries – some of them subsidiaries, others suppliers to large companies – in the services, retail and manufacturing sectors that are interested in SAP Business One, since this product facilitates the process of them linking up to their customers.

How often do you hear the argument: “I need a SAP system because I’m a supplier and my customer insists on me getting it”?

This is something we are encountering ever more frequently. Let’s take an example: A family printer in Mexico with a total of seven to eight employees handles print jobs for Procter & Gamble. This printshop has now switched to SAP Business One when planning Word and Excel. Not only can the printshop supply faster, but Procter & Gamble get a clear overview of the precise status of the job. The linkup to the printshop’s ERP system ensures Procter & Gamble always has up-to-the-minute information on its capacity and how long it will take to process an order. The number of jobs that Procter & Gamble has sent to the printshop has risen accordingly.

The purchasing power of large companies means that they are able to dictate these conditions. On the other hand, suppliers too get many distinct advantages. From the very outset, SAP Business One was intended to address two markets – the classical, independent SMB market and the market which is dependent on key accounts as majority owners. We have discovered that up to 40 percent of potential SAP Business One customers are controlled by large customers. Through the Integration Toolkit we have succeeded in adding value to the portfolios of our classical mySAP customers. This means that small companies can very rapidly implement a solution, staff quickly come to terms with the solution thanks to the intuitive user interface, and at the press of a button the CEO of the large company has access to all data relating to the small subsidiary.

Let me turn again to the question of customer feedback. Are there any functions that customers would still like to see introduced or that have already been scheduled for future releases?

Release 2004 will be launched in August. This will focus in particular on Material Requirement Planning (MRP). Future releases will also contain further functions relating to Customer Relation Management (CRM), since this is an area that is becoming increasingly important on the SMB market. A further sales argument for SAP Business One is that it features an ERP system integrated with a CRM system. In the past, many SMBs have had to use separate ERP and CRM systems. The added value for the company lies in knowing what the customer wants and also in being able to optimize sales and cut costs.

Does this have any influence on the license fees for Business One?

Now, SAP Business One still costs Euro 2500 per user. In addition to SAP Business One, MRP and CRM functions are also included. The goal is to ensure the product covers a specific market segment. The addition of new functions extends the segment being addressed. Any missing functions are then added using modules from our solution partners, these being created and integrated with the existing SDK (Software Development Kit). We can therefore guarantee that the product covers most customer needs.

Any additional requirements can then be met by our mySAP All-in-One products. SAP Business One therefore enables us to support companies in the various vertical markets with up to 250 employees. mySAP All-in-One covers the next segment, from where customers can then change over to my SAP Business Suite. This provides the vehicle for complete migration.

Both the solution and the partner network are now established. 2004 therefore ought to generate substantial sales, shouldn’t it?

That’s right, 2004 will be a real measure of success. The sales channel is in place and our partners have received the training they require. At the same time, Release 2004 will provide users with many additional functions. The conditions are therefore in place for generating unit sales and market share. And we can already see the first signs of success. 25 country versions, over 450 partners and 1500 new customers in 2003 alone. We have therefore met our targets in full. We have even managed to get more (solution) partners on board and have concluded more orders with key customers than we had originally planned. This proves that the entire partner network and the structure of the national organizations are having a real impact.