SAP is a pretty impressive company which was founded in 1972 by five former IBM employees and has evolved to become a global ERP software leader with over 200,000 customers in 188 countries.
Even though SAP ERP manages some of the world’s largest companies, they are also quick to point out that about 65% of SAP solutions are installed in organizations which have fewer than 1000 employees.
It isn’t hard to understand, that given the size and resources SAP has available, few payroll and HR software vendors can match the capabilities that the SAP ERP HCM software delivers in terms of business intelligence (BI).
Some of SAP’s key features include:
SAP Crystal Reports These reports allow connections among multiple data sources as well as the design/formatting of custom and interactive reports, and internal/external report communications.
SAP BusinessObjects Analysis Allows multi-dimensional data analysis via an OLAP tool specifically designed for financial and business analysts. The Microsoft edition allows for business warehouse data analysis via a user interface (UI) embedded in the Microsoft Office environment.
SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence A BI software component that allows online and offline ad hoc queries across diverse data sources.
SAP BusinessObjects Predictive Workbench A BI solution which allows data mining in order to assess and predict future workforce trends.
SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards BI software that allows for the creation of dynamic and interactive dashboards for complex data visualization.
SAP BusinessObjects Explorer Allows targeted data searching and exploration for real-time analysis. Customers can also leverage the accelerated version of this business intelligence tool through SAP’s in-memory analytics; a process that greatly speeds up “time to insight”.
HCM Mobility SPA acquired Sybase in 2010 to further its goal of delivering information anywhere, anytime and on any device. It also gave SAP deep mobile capabilities on multiple platforms including Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia Series 60 smartphones.
Social Technology SAP was the first large vendor to deliver a stand-alone purpose-built Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) platform. The platform is StreamWork, an online decision making tool that has the capability of finding, selecting and arranging a given project’s workforce so as to facilitate the best collaboration possible.
International Support SAP ERP HCM software currently supports multiple languages, multiple currencies, localized processes and regulatory requirements for 48 countries. This means that country-specific solutions are available for organizations looking for a global HR and Payroll software solution.
The SAP business applications can be obtained modularly for individual functions including CRM or SCM, or customers can acquire the SAP Business Suite to integrate all or most of their business processes. Also, the financial applications can be operated as stand-alone applications or as a part of a broader suite.
SAP has excelled in bringing tightly integrated Business Intelligence (BI) to ERP systems. The SAP BI stack spans report writing, dashboards, data warehousing and some data mining.
The system is most recognized for its front end tools which include Crystal Reports. However, challenges remain in embedding BI into role based workflow routines, so that users are delivered BI in context of their normal processes and responsibilities, and not required to navigate to separate BI destinations, but SAP is clearly ahead of most in this area.
SAP offers users a wide variety of tools and tips to help them make a smooth transition to the system and solve any problems along the way.
An extensive and helpful community has been built for users to share knowledge and help each other with an extensive assortment of issues.
Blog articles are available to offer tips and suggestions so users can get the most out of their system.
SAP offers these options and more on their Training and Education page, which is a dedicated place to collaborate, exchange ideas and information, share best practices, tips and tricks, and ask questions about SAP Education’s courses, learning software, and other related topics
SAP has a wide assortment of add-ons and integrations available to help customize, extend and allow users to make the most of their system. Some of these add-ons include:
SAP HANA SAP HANA uses in-memory computing, a breakthrough technology that enables analysis of very large non-aggregated data at unprecedented speed in local memory (vs. disk-based database) enabling complex analysis, plans and simulations on real-time data.
SAP Fiori Information about the SAP Fiori design principles and the underlying system architecture of SAP Fiori apps in SAP Business Suite.
SAP Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable The SAP Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable is a subsidiary ledger that is tailored towards the requirements of industry sectors with a high volume of business partners and a large number of documents for processing.
SAP Sourcing SAP Sourcing covers the entire strategic source to contract process, including standard integration to SAP ECC and SRM, across all categories of spend.
Software Development Kits (SDKs) SDKs enable SAP partners to adapt and expand the solution capabilities of SAP Business ByDesign and of SAP’s on-demand solutions. The development tools provided are presented in an integrated development environment (IDE) based on Microsoft Visual Studio.
SAP Precision Marketing SAP Precision Marketing enables one-to-one marketing between retailers and consumers while informing and influencing consumers in real time at the point of sale.
Even though SAP ERP HCM is a very powerful and excellent system for any size business, it isn’t without its flaws.
One of the things that I had a problem with is that the capabilities of the base package is limited and needs to be supplemented with add-ons, which can become expensive as more and more modules are needed to do the work of, what I would expect to be a basic system.
The system also seems a little rigid in the sense that it isn’t easily adaptable and accommodating to a company’s business process. This can be a real setback for several, if not most companies that need to have a customized system so they can stay flexible in an ever changing industry.
However, for other organizations, that can work with a standard system, this lack of flexibility may not be an issue at all. This doesn’t mean that SAP’s lack of flexibility is a reason to not try or even implement their ERP HCM system, it just means that you need to be aware of this issue, if it even matters to your business.
The application is intuitive and the usability is straight-forward, however, the User Experience (UX) doesn’t stand up to some modern user interfaces which offer rich presentations, social models and consumer technologies.
The SAP user interface is based on several presentation technologies and tools, some of which are on the way out including Flash and Silverlight, along with several of which are seemingly becoming more harmonized, but not more consumer-like or rewarding for the user.
In conclusion I have to say, I found SAP ERP HCM to be a very powerful and useful system. However, like anything else it is a system that is not without its drawbacks. The extent or even the importance of these drawbacks depend completely on how they affect your business.
Something I consider a drawback or a limitation, may in fact be something you can live with as the cost of getting an excellent system that does everything else you need it to do. SAP is definitely worth looking into to see if it will work for your company.
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