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SAP for SMEs

There is a common misconception that SAP solutions are only suitable for big business.

Thinc's Head of SAP, James Peel, explains how the ERP system can benefit companies of all sizes.

Every business owner knows that to grow, you need the ability to make well-informed decisions quickly. That means being able to access and analyse all the data within your company when and where you need it.

An effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, such as SAP Business One, is often the answer.

An effective ERP lies at the foundation of building what we call ‘Intelligent Companies’. What do we mean by an Intelligent Company? It’s a business that harnesses cutting-edge IT solutions to create a complete ecosystem, engineered to help people maximise their potential.

Making your SME more intelligent

Having the resources to make your company more intelligent might feel like the preserve of large enterprises. Indeed, there is a perception that systems such as SAP are prohibitively expensive and complicated for SMEs.

This misconception is simply not true.

In fact, over 80% of SAP customers are SMEs—thanks in large part to the SAP Business One (SAP B1) ERP solution. SAP B1 has been developed specifically for SMEs, and it’s used by 60,000 companies globally.

In short, it’s the ideal tool to unleash the potential of the teams and people within a business—whatever its size.

Understandably, some businesses struggle to pinpoint specifically how an ERP solution such as SAP B1 can assist with their growth ambitions and business goals.

This inertia can be due to the sometimes confusing language that surrounds these solutions, or simply because individuals within a business have become settled within their existing systems and ways of working.

In the following section, we’ll look at an example of an SME scenario to show how an ERP can elevate a business to intelligent company status—as well as protect customer relationships.

SAP in practice

Consider the wholesale and distribution sector—specifically food and beverage. Here, we regularly see companies dealing as best they can with multiple spikes in demand, working with retailers to fill empty shelves and maintain stock availability.

This requirement for both close collaboration and an expectation for an on-time in-full (OTIF) delivery of goods has led to retailers assessing the efficiency of their supply partners even more closely.

It is estimated that 96% of retailers now measure their supply chain using OTIF-type measures, and they’re seeking to incorporate the outcomes within their commercial supplier agreements.

This could strike fear into the hearts of many smaller SME wholesalers. Without the real-time integration of inventory systems offered by an ERP solution, they have no way to make quick decisions in order to fulfil orders for demanding retail clients.

But, while many SMEs in the sector would see this as a problem, others could well see it as an opportunity.

By making an investment in ERP software such as SAP B1, and moving towards being an intelligent company, SMEs can place themselves at front of mind with customers thanks to being able to offer an efficient, technologically advanced service.

Functionality for competitive advantage

Delving into the functionality of SAP B1 and, in this example, the SAP Business One version for SAP HANA, unveils some of its many capabilities as a solution for your business.

‘Available to Promise’ functionality, for example—which comes with SAP Business One HANA—helps meet the challenge of informed decision-making and promised customer delivery schedules head-on, using the dynamic integrated single screen with sliding scales and visualisation of real-time data.

Similarly, the real-time 360-degree view of any customer account offers information on historic spending, margins and terms of payment, as well as the ability to reschedule existing deliveries.

These elements (among many others) allow experienced and knowledgeable account managers to spend less time on digging out information and counting the physical stock themselves, and more time acting on it.

These same account managers then feel empowered and better informed going forward, meaning that they’ll help you to propel your business towards becoming an intelligent company.

Alongside this, of course, you’ll typically see exponential growth in revenue and overall profitability from key retail accounts managed using SAP B1. This is thanks to the customer having increased confidence in your capability to meet supplier performance targets and take on larger orders.


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