While it is still early days, SAP Business ByDesign customers are quietly confident the service will deliver value. Earlier today, David Suntinger, corporate development at WIMA, a German engineering business with four locations employing 500 person discussed its implementation progress.
The project has been running for a year and is expected to come out of pilot phase by August with full go live by the end of 2008. At that point WIMA will have around 50 users running the full suite, handling SRM, SCM and CRM processes. Up to now, around 70% of the time has been spent on normalizing and consiolidating data but from there on, time spent will be wholly on implementing and configuring the system.
Like others I've met, Business ByDesign is encouraging customers to rethink and often document for the first time old processes that are no longer providing the utility that business needs: "We had in house developed systems, SBS and Navision but nothing was connected. We bought into the product in the belief it will allow us to gain efficiencies in both build to order and build for stock," said Suntinger.
Nicholas Lindop, director of Pentagon, a British chemicals company said much the same thing: "Replacing a bunch of systems and spreadsheets gives us the opportunity to do a through systems shakedown. It allows us to align with our customers - that's not been done before so it's good for us."
A common thread among early customers is they don't require third party consulting outside the SAP implementation team. However, it is a 'learning by doing' system and right now, SAP consultants are learning as much as customers.
Asked about cost, Suntinger said: "If you do a direct comparison to on-premise then it looks expensive but taking a 10 year view shows it is much more economical to have an on-demand solution." Today, WIMA is paying Microsoft 22% for maintenance with upgrade changes costing extra.
Payroll is an area of concern that leaves Suntinger less than delighted: "We want SAP to deliver everything but they're partnering [with ADP] for payroll. We're not comfortable that SAP's partners truly understand our market and in any event, it doesn't make sense for SAP to provide so much and leave out payroll."
I asked Thomas Otter, ex-SAP and now Gartner analyst for his perspective on this issue: "Developing a payroll is far from trivial and consumes a lot of resource so I think the partnership makes sense." This contrasts with Workday that has realized the 'sticky' value payroll can bring to the solution table.
photo credit: Gregor Wolf