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A large enterprise is complex and different than a smaller company – they aren’t just a “grown-up” small business with more people and more sales. At Sapphire, we intuitively understand this.

A large enterprise has multiple locations in numerous countries. They have to contend with different capital structure. They evaluate risk differently. Rather than having one or two products or services, there may be hundreds or even thousands.

SAP: Success Through Innovation

From a staffing perspective, a large enterprise has teams of people doing what may be a part-time (or non-existent) role in a smaller business. Addressing the silos created by these teams was SAP’s original innovation, and the original SAP product broke down the barriers between disparate systems and gave an enterprise a single solution that integrated all the parts.

There are very few companies that grow from small businesses to complex enterprises. If you stop and think, you could probably name a few “unicorns” that grew quickly over the last 15 years: Facebook, Tesla, Google, Biogen. But in general, they are the exception, not the rule.

As you consider software for your business, you want to consider products that will offer room for the growth that meets your plans and aspirations. For 98% of businesses, this means they don’t need to buy and install SAP’s enterprise S/4 HANA product. It’s too much product – too complex to implement and too expensive to run. The product is designed for the complex, distributed enterprise that has teams of people doing different functions yet needing to work together. However, if you distance your business from the above statement just a little bit, you can see where the similarities are.

Your business also has a team of people who need to work together. They likely all have different functions with a similar goal of helping your customers and growing the business. Your sales team needs to know how much inventory is in stock or, if it’s not in stock, when it will be, and the answer depends on whether you order it domestically or from overseas or if you manufacture it.

Big Business - Small Business and how they inform each other

Your purchasing manager needs to know what to buy and, therefore, what the demand may be. If you are small enough that your sales team is only a couple of people, a quick conversation a couple of times a week may suffice. But if you have six, eight, or more salespeople and service teams that also work with your customers, demand forecasting gets more complicated.

Your accounting team must capture, verify, and pay the bills. If you only buy from a few vendors, basic accounting software works just fine – but if you buy goods internationally, bill clients in multiple countries, and sell online, direct or through a channel, it gets more complex. You need to track landed costs and multiple currencies and report on profitability in multiple dimensions.

Your executive team needs access to good information to plan for the future. Again, if you’re a small business with one or two products or services, the information is easy to obtain and digest. Once you have a few different product lines or countries you sell to or supply lines that stretch internationally, however, access to analytical tools and the ability to ask and answer “what if” becomes important, if not mission critical.

Functionally, these actions are the same actions large enterprises take. But instead of a few countries, they have dozens. Instead of a few products, they have hundreds. Instead of a dozen salespeople, they have a thousand. You and they have the same issues; theirs are just an order of magnitude more complex.

If SAP can solve the complexity of the largest businesses in the world, the company is in a great position to solve the complexity of your business. SAP Business One is unique in this manner – it’s not a “dumbed down” version of a product designed for large enterprises, it’s a purpose-built business management software product that incorporates SAP’s institutional knowledge and understanding of how businesses operate, designed for a small business to run.

Go more than skin-deep as you consider ERP software

As you consider which software to run your business on, it’s important to look deeper than just the current functions, features, and user interface (the look and feel). There are three primary reasons businesses choose to move to a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) management system:

  1. The company needs for reporting, integration, transaction volume, and security have outgrown the basic accounting package they used when starting out.
  2. Their system is no longer supported by the vendor (i.e., the software is no longer supported or the hardware that the software runs is unavailable).
  3. The business strategy or structure has changed. It could be a new product line, the outsourcing of a key function (like manufacturing), or the business may have been spun out from a larger company.

In any of the above scenarios, the tendency is to focus on the needed features first and everything else afterward, but changing your ERP or business management system is a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive process – you don’t want to do it again in five to seven years.

With that in mind, as you consider software, consider the following “intangibles” that drive the longevity and ongoing development of a mission-critical software product:

  • What is the background of the company management and where do the bulk of the company staff come from?
  • How much does the software developer invest in funding research and development? How do they ensure maximum leverage of their investment?
  • How does integration with other products fit into the company’s overall product strategy?
  • What motivates the software developer to strive for high quality?
  • What is the stability and financial position of the vendor that creates the software?

Answers to these questions and more about SAP and SAP Business One are available in our original ebook – SAP, not just for big business.  Download it here.

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