Small businesses mull SAP Business One, All-in-One choice

The head of SAP's product management for small businesses said there are questions to ask before deciding between SAP Business One and All-in-One software.

ll businesses deciding whether to run SAP Business One or SAP All-in-One software need to look internally before investing in one of the products, according to the vice president in charge of SAP's product management for small businesses.

"Obviously, for a 15-person company Business One is the easy choice," said Gadi Shamia, SAP's vice president of solution management for small business solutions. "But questions start when companies reach 150 employees."

SAP Business One is the software vendor's low-end suite, aimed at small businesses with 250 employees or less. SAP acquired the software from TopManage in 2002 and has added new features to support the development of small SAP shops. It is not industry specific and supports standard business processes, such as financial management, warehouse management, purchasing, inventory management, payment and salesforce features.

SAP All-in-One has components based on the mySAP Business Suite. Enterprises can use predefined "wizards" to tailor the software to their specific industries.

The two SAP products compete directly with Oracle's Special Edition for small businesses and Microsoft's Dynamics AX, an ERP suite Microsoft purchased from Denmark-based Axapta, which has been gaining momentum.

If SAP is selected for consideration, the decision between the Business One and All-in-One products should be made very carefully, Shamia said. Small business owners should consider several questions before choosing between SAP's products.

1. What are your plans?

If a small company plans to maintain current staffing levels and keep the status quo, Business One may be the right choice, Shamia said. If plans call for aggressive company growth over the next three to five years, the All-in-One suite may be a better choice to manage that growth and the business processes changes, he said.

2. How complicated are your business processes?

A pharmaceutical company that deals with complex compliance and manufacturing processes would benefit from an All-in-One installation, Shamia said. The All-in-One product is scaled down, but has all the mySAP attributes to it and can handle complex business processes, he said. A firm with limited compliance concerns and fewer, less complex business processes should choose Business One, he said.

3. How much do you want to invest in automating processes?

Some companies may have less emphasis on automating business processes, while others depend on up to 80% of business processes and need those processes covered by an application, Shamia said. Small businesses need to start a dialogue within the company to understand the culture and the processes, and to determine what areas could be automated. All-in-One could take on more process automation and is also flexible enough to integrate new processes as the company grows, he said. Business One may be a better choice if only a few processes are being automated, he said.

When small businesses begin to show signs of growth and business processes need to be pulled together and automated, small and midsized businesses (SMBs) look for software suites with more functionality, said Sanjeev Aggarwal, a senior analyst for small and medium business strategy at the Yankee Group.

Larger vendors are competing for a share of the SMB market once small businesses seek software to automate processes beyond payroll and inventory management, Aggarwal said.

Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are all competing in the SMB market segment using channel partners. Other firms, such as Siebel Systems Inc. and offer on-demand services for specific business processes such as customer relationship management.

"As you go up in the midmarket, there is a demand for more functionality in the software and that's where we start seeing Oracle and SAP competing," he said.

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