SAP.info: What exactly is an SAP Business Suite customer?
Martin Riedel: In a word, SAP Business Suite customers are companies that use any, a combination of, or all SAP Business Suite applications. Let me give you some historical perspective: It was enterprise resource planning (ERP) that made SAP great. Market analysis and customer requirements then led to the development of other applications to complement the SAP ERP application.
These included SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM), SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM), SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), and SAP Product Lifecycle Management (SAP PLM). Together with SAP ERP, these are the core applications that make SAP Business Suite. Our customers understandably required us to integrate these applications even further. That’s why we brought these applications together in SAP Business Suite 7 and harmonized the development and support cycles.
SAP.info: The news about SAP Business Suite 7 is that new functionality will be delivered continually in enhancement packages. How has the market reacted so far?
Martin Riedel: Very positively. Customers particularly appreciate the fact that they can implement new business functions selectively and control the activation of them based on their specific requirements.As of November 2009, 4,756 customers are already using enhancement packages.
SAP.info: Do the enhancement packages mean additional costs for the customer?
Martin Riedel: In terms of licensing, SAP enhancement packages are handled in the same way as new releases. The only difference is in the model for delivering the new functions. More details on SAP’s licensing model can be found on the SAP home page.
SAP.info: Why would companies choose to upgrade – and what benefits do they get from SAP Business Suite 7?
Martin Riedel: There are basically three reasons for upgrading: the end of maintenance periods, technological innovation, and new functionality. As for SAP Business Suite 7, companies that want to invest in technological or functional innovations will find the enhancement package concept to be the ideal solution. Typically the installation can be part of the upgrade project. And if customers want to innovate even further, they can install additional enhancement packages later during the normal maintenance cycle. The end of the system maintenance period is another reason to upgrade. But a lot of customers don’t wait that long.
SAP.info: What advice do you have for customers who are implementing SAP Business Suite?
Martin Riedel: We generally recommend implementing SAP Business Suite step by step, based on specific business requirements. The first major step should be to upgrade to SAP ERP 6.0 because it is the backbone of the application environment.
This upgrade enables customers to reap the benefits of SAP Business Suite immediately. Depending on their priorities and requirements, customers can then decide what to implement next. Many implement SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse next, followed by SAP SCM, SAP SRM, and/or SAP CRM. The sequence they choose depends on their business needs and the project resources they have at a given time.
SAP.info: What about the technical requirements?
Martin Riedel: In many cases, customers can still use the same hardware if they upgrade from SAP R/3 4.7 to SAP ERP 6.0. This also applies to other solutions in SAP Business Suite. Our customers have found that hardware isn’t a major issue in upgrades.
Actually, we get more questions about the software operations. For example, customers want to know how they can ensure that their applications interact across different releases. We address questions such as these with our SAP Enterprise Support services – proactive services that support all SAP applications.
SAP.info: When will all applications be at release 7.0?
Martin Riedel: Although it may sound a little odd, the core component is SAP ERP 6.0, but all other SAP Business Suite applications are at release 7.0. There are no plans for new releases in the near future. The Suite is stable, just as our customers expect it to be. As I’ve mentioned, enhancement packages deliver the innovations. The first shipment of enhancement packages for all SAP Business Suite applications is planned for mid-2010 and will primarily address usability and lower the total cost of ownership.
SAP.info: SAP Business Suite contains value scenarios. What are they, and how will they benefit customers?
Martin Riedel: Value scenarios enable users and IT departments to look at processes from an end-to-end perspective, such as from lead to cash and, if necessary, even further. We’re working with customers to find areas where software can support such processes and deliver improvements across the board. For example, in our upgrade value assessment, we analyze customer processes, compare them with the relevant value scenario, and use the results to improve the endto-end processes as well as the automated IT support for the processes.
SAP.info: Where does SAP Business Suite stand in relation to the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio?
Martin Riedel: SAP applications contain a wealth of data, but many companies have trouble getting to it. SAP BusinessObjects solutions make that much easier. Now that the two companies have been brought together, we’re integrating their products and services as well. Ultimately, they will form a unified solution.