As an SAP Business ByDesign consultant and solution advisor, I get a lot of questions from prospects, customers, and also colleagues about this new cloud solution by SAP. So I thought I’d take some time to write out the top 5 and provide some answers:
1) Is moving to the cloud right for your company?
2) What kind of security do we have with cloud technology?
3) Why SAP Business by Design and not another ERP?
4) What is the SDK?
5) How long till Go Live?
1. Is moving to the cloud right for your company?
Companies struggle with deciding to move their company to the cloud because of uncertainty. Making that decision becomes easier when you weigh the advantages against the disadvantages.
Some advantages and disadvantages of SAP Business ByDesign
Some of the advantages include startup cost, collaboration, unlimited storage and the ability to access your solution from anywhere with an internet connection. Some of the disadvantages are speed, uncertainly and modification. If you’re a company that has many processes that are different from the industry standards, then an out-of-the-box software solution that needs to be modified tremendously may not be right for you. If you are willing to adapt as much as possible to best practices (which is always better for your company in the long run, considering you are limiting development costs and making upgrades easier) or if you are a company that wants to follow best practices for your processes for that industry, then SAP might be your best answer.
SAP Business ByDesign support
Cloud computing offers a way for smaller companies to benefit from a solution that they could not afford in the past. But even with the best solution and at a cheap price tag there are still many concerns to be measured. If there is a problem, is there someone we could call? And what level of customer support would we get? What is the uptime percentage and what are the concerns with upgrades to a SaaS system?
With SAP Business ByDesign there are a different ways to get answers to your questions. First, yes you can call the service center and the customer service is direct and straight to the point. Second, for key users who want to make some changes to the system and are unsure of a particular change, then I would recommend them to the SAP Business ByDesign discussion board where SAP has service advisors on staff to answer those types of questions. Also, there is a built-in Help menu inside SAP Business ByDesign that allows you to enter questions and provides a great library for technical issues. When it comes to upgrades and hot fixes, these are usually done during non-business hours on weekends to minimize the effect on employees’ daily duties.
2. What kind of security do we have with cloud technology?
Companies are considering moving their data to the cloud, but before a company can make that decision there are a few things to consider. First, how safe is that data from outside threats such as hackers, viruses, and even physical threats like fires or tornados? I must admit these are some very good questions. I would indicate to these decision makers that threats are somewhat the same considering an on-premise solution or cloud solution. Having your data on premise seems like it would be safer but in all honestly it is not. SAP is going to keep your data safer than if you were caring your data around in your pocket.
The most prevalent threats often come from within the company. You never know really how good your bakups are until you have to use them! This is where SAP cloud technology benefits you more than having an on premise solution. Once data is put into SAP Business By Design it cannot be deleted. If the right work distributions tasks were put in place (this means you need a quality implementation partner), then that disgruntled employee would not be able to sabotage your SaaS system. When it comes to hackers or viruses harming your data, think about this: who do you want protecting your data, your security experts that you have onsite or the team of experts that SAP has on staff with cutting edge technology experience? SAP has their reputation on the line so they have to make sure that your data is protected 100% of the time.
3. Why SAP Business by Design and not another ERP?
SAP is known for its Best Practices and has been around for more than 40 years. They are the world’s largest business software provider with 80% of their business coming from the SME market. Their SAP Business ByDesign solution is intergraded so that means no more logging into one system and then having to go into another. SAP Business ByDesign has one common database and platform that enables a true 360-degree view of customers, products, prices, and operational performance. SAP Business by Design can serve as a subsidiary deployment for multi-national companies who have SAP at headquarters, leveraging a Business Network Integration strategy. SAP Business by Design lets you start small and adapt quickly as your business expands locally, regionally, and even internationally. Cloud-based solutions are designed to minimize disruption and reduce the risk and complexity in order to prevent you from having to change gears when growth opportunities lie ahead.
4. What is the SDK?
The SDK is the System Development Kit. It allows you to reshape SAP Business ByDesign to fill the gaps inside your company’s processes. Now the SDK is somewhat new and limited but developers at SAP are working to improve on this. But as it stands now I would rate the SDK at a B+. For ByDesign FP 3.0 there are around 450 data objects and the SDK can touch around 120 of those, 25% coming from the CRM side. Some of the possibilities with the studio are micro-vertical solutions, add-ons, mashups and integrated solutions. The SDK is based off of MS Visual Studio with no ABAB language skills needed. This is also a great tool for developers who want to develop third party apps and put them on the SAP store.
5. How long till Go Live?
SAP Business by Design has a “Go Live” methodology, a roadmap that guides you through the whole process. Also there are activity lists and accelerators to help direct you toward the correct path. The methodology has four phases: prepare, fine tune and integrate & extend, test and go-live. These four phases have streams inside and acceptance check point for smooth transitions to the new solution. The end user and the key user will have important tasks to complete thought-out the whole life cycle of the project.
There are a couple of different approaches the customer can take in their implementation.
- One is that they can choose the Go-Live Assistance where SAP guides them as a customer through the implementation process.
- And the second is the Go-Live Execution where SAP and its partners take full control of the implementation and all of the workshops. If the customer decides to opt for the GLA, the key user acts as a service advisor and takes on all of the activities along with the data migration relying on SAP for support only. If the customer decides to go with the GLE then SAP and its partners handle all of the workshops and all data migrations duties. Go-Live with the CRM starter pack can be achieved in less than 6 weeks.
Ken is an SAP Business ByDesign consultant and service advisor at Equal-Plus.
You can email Ken at Ken.Lahm@equal-plus.com