At the start of February 2009, SAP unveiled SAP Business Suite 7 in New York. But what was new about it? While companies used to have to assemble their software by combining individual applications for functions such as resource planning (using SAP ERP), production (using SAP Product Lifecycle Management), and customer relationship management (using SAP Customer Relationship Management), SAP Business Suite provides a stable core upon which enterprises can base their business. The suite currently comprises:
- SAP ERP 6.0 (SAP Enterprise Resource Planning)
- SAP CRM 7.0 (SAP Customer Relationship Management)
- SAP SRM 7.0 (SAP Supplier Relationship Management)
- SAP SCM 7.0 (SAP Supply Chain Management)
- SAP PLM 7.0 (SAP Product Lifecycle Management)
At the heart of SAP Business Suite is the SAP ERP application, which is supplemented by SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP PLM, and SAP SCM. From financial accounting through manufacturing, logistics, sales, marketing, and human resources, all the key business processes that occur on a day-to-day basis in the world’s companies can be managed with SAP Business Suite. The software comprises a range of preconfigured processes that are based on best practices gained from 35 years of experience. In other words, it maps processes that occur time and again in the running of enterprises.
By integrating the SAP BusinessObjects portfolio, users can also access a range of analysis functions. Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius Enterprise software enable data to be displayed dynamically, transformed into graphics, and processed interactively using dashboards.
Updates without upgrades
When a new software version is released, IT departments often face great challenges: Implementing upgrades is a time-consuming and costly exercise. Normal company activities are disrupted, because the software can’t be used while the upgrade is going ahead.
SAP plans to put a stop to such problems with its enhancement packages. SAP enhancement packages are currently available for SAP ERP, SAP CRM, SAP SRM, SAP SCM, and SAP PLM. They are offered every six months along with support packages. Companies can deploy the enhancements in a modular way by activating only the new features and functionalities they want – on their own timetable. As a result, CIOs can bid farewell to hefty upgrade projects – and to sleepless nights.
Hooking up with industry-specific applications
Thanks to its modular structure, SAP Business Suite gives customers a wide variety of applications. It takes time and experience to implement, that’s why usually only large organizations with several offices and a large number of employees look at using it.
SAP Business Suite maps typical business processes for these industries, for example:
- Financial services and public sector (healthcare, universities, research institutes, insurance companies)
- Manufacturing (aerospace and defense, automotive, chemicals, consumer products, construction, plant engineering, shipbuilding, high tech and electronics, industrial machinery and components, mill products, mining, oil and gas)
- The service sector (media, telecommunications)
SAP Business Suite not only offers end-to-end processes for all industries, but also provides industry-specific applications. These applications are based on business processes that occur regularly in certain industries. Together with partners and customers, SAP integrated value scenarios into the suite and preconfigured certain applications.
For the automotive industry, for example, these are processes for synchronized product development and enhanced CAD integration. Banks can use SAP Business Suite to manage deposits, loans, securities, and payment transactions, and to create contracts. In the chemicals industry, the suite helps companies to observe the European Union’s regulations on chemicals and their safe use, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemical substances). For the consumer products industry, the suite offers special functions for logistics and order processing. The high tech and electronics industry can take advantage of enhanced functions for orchestrating outsourced manufacturing, such as batch traceability, mass processing of orders, and tracking goods during production. Compliance with the European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) is also supported. Insurance company employees can automatically check limits and deductibles, access rule-based practices for automated receivables management, and use predefined enterprise services for invoicing and for clarifying disputed cases. In the wholesale trade, users can calculate chargebacks and create contracts and discount campaigns. In the retail sector, store managers just log on to display all the information they need on a dashboard: sales data, customer master, and the processes at their store. RSS feeds give them the latest on what the competition is doing. They can also call up a map to display the location of their stores and those of rival companies. What’s more, they can use SAP Business Suite to gather information about the demographic structure of their locations.
Customers can implement the applications step-by-step and they only pay for the features (for example, from SAP CRM) that they actually need.
Because SAP Business Suite is based on the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, non-SAP industry-specific applications – such as Web services – can be integrated, too. Thanks to SAP NetWeaver, all employees access a standardized user interface.
On-demand software and mobile access are set to dominate the IT world. As SAP announced at CeBIT and on its World Tour 2010, the company will press ahead with its SaaS strategy, increasing the range of applications that companies can add to SAP Business Suite on a subscription basis.
With Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite, employees are already able to use certain applications on their iPhones, so they can, for example, manage their travel expenses and view customer projects.