Smart Design Equals Ease of Use, Easy Configuration

August 8, 2007 by admin

SAP Business One offers intuitive navigation and easy configuration. Even though the application handles important core business processes such as CRM, inventory management, manufacturing and financial management, it’s so easy to customize and use that many users require little – and sometimes no training.
That begs the question: How does its design enable such ease of use? According to Michaela Zwinakis, vice president of solution marketing, SAP Small Business, “SAP Business One is a comfortable metaphor with folders for navigation around major areas and menus.” It’s typical of Microsoft Windows, an interface familiar to most people. It integrates with Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel, applications in use at many small companies, while at the same time offering the reporting and data analysis power of SAP.
“SAP Business One was designed from the ground up for small businesses,” Zwinakis says. And while initial implementation and configuration is usually done with the help of an SAP partner, customers can also perform their own customizations via an array of easy-to-configure features and functions. It’s a simple process they can do in-house or with a little help.

Long list of customizable features

Martin Maguth, solution manager for SAP Business One, explains that the application has an administration module. Inside there are two folders, “system initialization” and “set up,” which contain all the paths and menus a small company needs to configure the application to meet its specific needs.
The system initialization folder holds data such as language and currency in use, bank accounts, tax codes, factory calendars and other such organizational details. The set up folder contains subfolders used to configure individual business functions. For instance, in the financial management functionality, a user can set up purchasing and freight costs and so on.
Maguth points to a long list of user customizable features. For example, users can tailor forms, queries and reports. They can input or update company data for customers, suppliers or partners. Take the configuration of a company selection list, for instance. To add a company a user must have authorization granted by an administrator. Then it just requires a simple click on the “New” button and the input of the company data.
It also offers an easy-to-use system of orange arrows for drilling down on items. For example, if a user is looking at an invoice and wants to get to the business partner records, he doesn’t have to right-click and go through a look-up process. He just clicks on an orange arrow and the application drills down on whatever the arrow is next to. “When you see a bit of information you can get to what’s behind it very easily,” Zwinakis says. “That’s important to small business users, who have limited time and need to respond instantaneously.”
“Users usually know Windows and find it incredibly easy to drill-down to exactly what they need,” Zwinakis says. Unlike some large-scale enterprise resource planning applications that have rigid pre-defined steps for even the simplest process, SAP Business One doesn’t force users to back out of one window and into another one. They control the configuration and navigation processes by pointing and clicking to anything on the desktop or within the interface that they need to access.

Administrators have it easy too

COM-based APIs

COM-based APIs

Just like users, administrators have their own set of easy-to-configure features too. Administrators can configure utilities such as data backups and data import and export, so these tasks are done at set intervals. And, when implementing SAP Business One, they can customize charts of accounts and tax codes to meet specific requirements and adhere to national and international regulations, either with the help of an implementation partner or on their own.
Also, it’s possible to add an unlimited number of user-defined fields to most forms within SAP Business One. This can be done at the header or document level, or at the row or detail level. Administrators can control who adds such fields by setting up authorization codes.
As an example of its easy configuration, Maguth explained the simple steps an administrator would follow to create a new user in SAP Business One: He goes into the menu and selects “Administration,” then “Set up,” then “General,” then “Users.” A screen pops up for user set up. He then inputs a user code or user name along with contact information, user type and an initial password. To finish the process he clicks the “Add” button.

A grower’s success story

Maguth highlights one small firm, an organic grower, which configured the application to handle its inventory tracking, pricing and sales order processing needs. The company previously had a homegrown legacy system in place. It was able to transition to SAP without downtime or user training. Today the company finds the application’s XL Reporter tool indispensable. XL Reporter displays detailed, integrated SAP data in the familiar Microsoft Excel format.
And that’s just one of a growing number of companies generating great results with SAP Business One. There are already more than 14,000 customers that rely on the application to help run their businesses and keep complexity and IT effort to a minimum. Says Zwinakis, “It’s integrated and simplified just for small business.”

Sarah Z. Sleeper

Sarah Z. Sleeper

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