Many companies over-engineer, over-build, and spend too much for ERP as they begin to implement smaller markets where the needs are relatively simple when they try to shoehorn them into the larger global ERP system. Even after implementation, the smaller “units” often find it difficult to get their requirements met as they account for such a small percentage (%) of revenue. One of the biggest hassles in SAP is security and separation of duty (SOD) which often requires smaller offices with just a few workers to have special profiles, multiple login’s, or some special process to fit into the bigger office process. There needs to be a better way to meet the requirements of highly optimized larger markets with large work forces and smaller, simpler, and more fickle markets with smaller work forces. A 2-tier ERP solution might be the cure.
Up to now, companies have spent billions on ERP implementations resulting in significant results. Specifically for SAP, many of the fortune 100 companies I work with credit some portion of their ability to keep up, survive, and some cases surpass their competitors to their SAP systems. The most successful implement SAP using standardized processes, strong governance, and fewer, and fewer instances. Companies with lots of instances often ask me what is the right number of instances. It is the fewest number of instances which can meet your business requirements. Not 1, 2, or any specific number, but the fewest. Each company has to look at its own situation, goals, and markets; however, I believe implementing a cloud based ERP (SaaS) such as Business ByDesign (https://www54.sap.com/pc/tech/cloud/software/business-management-bydesign/overview/index.html) can make implementing or getting to “fewer” much more possible and ultimately better meet the requirements of all parties unilaterally.
In the examples below, the imaginary company has about 80 divisions, units, or countries (depends on how the company organizes and implements) it wants to implement. A rough cut of revenue shows that 65% resides in top 10 and additional 25% in next group of 10 (11 – 20). The last group of 60 only account for about 10% of revenue. While this is fictional, it is a composite many of my experiences in the real world. We often spend as much, or more, getting the last 60 units into core instance.
If we recognize that the goal of the fewer or even a global single instance is not simply being on one system, but to have consistent, audit-able processes globally, a new option opens up using a 2-tier ERP model. Bottom line is in many of these smaller units, often countries, the objective is really to make sure the financial results are valid and that ultimately the CFO can count on them when he reports out to Wall Street. Getting everything into single SAP system was the best way, and in some scenarios still may be the best way, but it might pay to look at a SaaS based ERP solution as shown below.
Often I’m asked, why not just take one of our ERP systems and make it the “light” ERP system and we can even place it on the cloud (IaaS/PaaS). It does work, but it misses many of the advantages of moving to SaaS. It is a good option if those other units require lots of optimization. In contrast the SaaS option will provide a more generic solution focused at smaller organizations with shorter implementation periods, mobile enabled GUI, and pricing by user which may match the more volatile small unit markets where staffing may quickly shift up or down. Finally, if you are already on SAP ERP, there are significant integration between SAP ERP and Busines ByDesign pre-built with new ones being rolled out in future versions.
I will continue to encourage clients to move to the fewest number of instances which can meet their business requirements. Adding a SaaS based ERP system such as Business ByDesign could make that journey even simpler and faster.