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SAP Business One – Simple, Affordable, Productive ERP for SMBs ?

Helmuth Gümbel


Why You Need to Read This Paper

This paper is intended to supply CEOs and CIOs with the information needed to critically assess their future investments in SAP Business One.

SAP has been successful with its high end enterprise application software. However, SAP has been trying to replicate this success in the lower end ERP market for more than 10 years with mixed achievement. The first attempts all focused on solving this task by repackaging the R/3 suite of products. The results, today visible in the form of mySAP All-in-One, were less than convincing: ease of use and simplicity were not more than a thin layer of marketing veneer. As soon as customers were demanding more sophisticated functions, they lapsed back to the complex enterprise product they had been trying to avoid.

Conscious of this apparent impossibility to scale the enterprise product to the needs of SMBs , SAP sought a much different solution that was bred from very different architectural stock. To a large extent, this move was motivated by Microsoft's ability to successfully deploy its Navision (now Micorsoft Dynamics™ NAV) solution in enterprises using SAP R/3 as a corporate hub. If Microsoft® was successful with a different architecture, why should SAP not try diverting from its own architectural paradigm? With NetWeaver promising almost unlimited and universal integration possibilities and R/3 (also known as mySAP ) needing a remake anyway – why not leave the trodden paths and try something refreshingly new?

In this paper, we analyze the main architecture of Business One, the consequences for key features such as scalability and adaptability for users and partners, the future of the product, and the background that future developments will occur against. This background is formed mainly by SAP having to redo its whole product set in the next five years. SAP needs to reinvent its business and address its two most critical issues: 1) free customers from their current cost and complexity and 2) deliver a new architecture to carry them into the future.

SAP is restructuring its product set around a new service oriented architecture based on NetWeaver . This will finally also affect Business One, although SAP's main focus for this product continues to be the removal of the key functional deficiencies. NetWeaver and Enterprise Service Architecture are, if at all, topics for the more distant future of Business One.

With the announcement of Business One at CeBit 2002, SAP admitted tacitly that the architectural heritage of R/3 is more of a burden than an advantage when it comes to creating an ERP offering for the SMB market. Here, we shed some light on how SAP's Business One addresses the need for simple, affordable, and productive ERP capabilities for the SMB market. We will also discuss how SAP Business One fits into the SAP family of ERP products and how upgrades to mySAP might work.

You can view or download this white paper in PDF-format by clicking here: B1 Paper 1.0 r.PDF