SAP Business One

My experience with SAP Business One

Before I share my experience; with SAP Business One as a software product; Let me share why I chose SAP Business One. With over 19 years of experience in IT and over 9 years in International Business Development, I thought my career was becoming monotonous. I felt a need to specialize in either a product or a vertical. However, it was not easy to make a choice. It was then; a close friend & an ex-colleague introduced me to SAP Business One. I already had fairly sound exposure to SAP R / 3 & the company (SAP, AG); & hence my choice was obvious.

Why does anyone select SAP?

The company is an unchallenged leader in ERP segment.

SAP has one of the best-packaged software product ranges.

SAP's line of business is just ERP.

SAP's Commitment to Customer:

Their products are continuously upgraded.

They have a fantastic support mechanism.

I have not had any exposure, per say, to any other products in the same segment, but I knew I was making the right choice.

As I started exploring & using SAP Business One more & more, I realized that there are certain outstanding features, which enable you to achieve great results without using the coding route. The feature I like the most is User Defined Fields (UDF) & especially the combination of UDF and Formatted Search. You can literally map almost any complex process in your logistics and achieve a result through a work around by using these features. I always advise my customers and also my team, to stretch the application to its optimum level before you go the coding way. The beauty is that even the users or functional consultants (without any coding knowledge) can create user defined fields or tables.

Now let me share some real life experiences,

    Methodology:

  • The implementation team should make sure that kick-off meeting should highlight and define the involvement and commitment from the customer rather than technical intracies of the business processes or the product.
  • Get as much details of customer's business processes as possible. Get down to the document level and field level. If the customer is a little worried about confidentiality, go ahead and sign an NDA or mention the option of blank forms.
  • Once the solution is ready, demonstrate the solution to the customer and spend time with all the key users till they understand and ask them to enter a few real life transactions while you are onsite.
  • If there are any suggestions, make revisions and install the solution as a Training company. Request the customer's project coordinator to follow the mantra of Practice! Practice !! AND More Practice !!!
  • These typically are conference room pilots, which ensure that there are no last moment surprises.
    ERP & Business Process Reengineering

  • Any ERP implementation gives you a good chance to refine / re-define your existing processes; provided you look at it with an open mind. I have seen lots of companies deriving huge benefits just by following "Best Practices" recommended by SAP.
  • The obvious advantage the customer gets is the productivity of the staff and their time is utilized in actual work like follow-up with customers or vendors rather than manipulating figures in half automated programs.
  • You can also get rid of lot of data redundancies. You may not have deal with some vendors for years or some items may not be in use any more. You can re-look at Item or Customer codifications to make it more logical or trim-down the Items list with proper classifications. Possibilities are many.
    Customized Vs. Ready product

  • As mentioned earlier, it is very important to set the expectations of the customer right, explain to them the realities and how their existing business processes will get mapped "one-on-one" with the product.
  • It's better that the users start using the product much before going live. This gives them time to familiarize themselves with the new environment and know the features of the software that are related to their work responsibilities.
  • Emphasize that the customer will derive the benefits over a period and that the solution will evolve as they get ideas about various report opportunities and new features through new releases, updates & add-ons.
    Education to customer

  • ERP implementation is beyond a customer & vendor relationship. Customer's role does not end after placing an order with the implementation partner. In fact the customer has to be an active facilitator.
  • Customer should make sure that relevant resources are available as and when required and the CEOs or the Department Heads should ensure active involvement of relevant staff members / users.
  • Delays can be avoided when the Implementation partner commits the resources (team) and the customer provides data / information or feedback (or sign offs) on time.
    Some of the challenges we faced:

  • I had never imagined a "Remote ERP Implementation" that too for overseas customers. Initial projects were nightmares due to obvious facts such as difference in time zones, limited "Onsite" component (& hence communication with the customer), etc. However, specifically defined Implementation Methodologies and SAP's recommendations helped a lot.
  • The biggest challenge and uninteresting (for me at least) part is data uploads. SAP Business One has a robust tool called Data Transfer Workbench (DTW). However, if it has to be robust, naturally it has to be strictly rule based. End users may not understand the "Technical Templates" and we sent lots of time cleaning up the data literally wasting time and ending up with delays in delivery and go-live. The easiest solution we found was creating our own templates to be submitted to the customer and then copy and paste the data into DTW's templates.

Hope this helps ERP aspirants including companies wanting to implement an ERP and professionals wanting to get into ERP world.

The author is Practice Head for SAP Business One with Tandon Information Solutions and can be reached at vkulkarni@tandoninfo.com .

Visit: http://www.tandoninfo.com

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