SAP Unites Information for Small Business

Business One provides alerts when business procedures are breached.

Small and midsize businesses looking to automate office functions got another alternative to evaluate last week as SAP AG introduced its Business One software suite in the United States.

The suite offers a set of basic enterprise software that promises to give managers at companies with 10 to 250 employees better access to consolidated information from across their business. In addition to offering traditional accounting, manufacturing and sales force automation applications, Business One provides management control tools that notify managers when employees break business rules outlined in workflows. The software boasts reporting tools to provide business analysis to a range of users.

The management tools have helped Duane Taylor, vice president of finance at NextiraOne Federal, a unit of NextiraOne LLC and an early user of the SAP suite, in Fairfax, Va. "Business One allows us to add alerts to the workflow and get better information, and that saves us time and money," said Taylor.

SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, also announced it is working with American Express Co.s Tax and Business Services unit to resell SAP Business One and develop editions for specific verticals. New York-based American Express will begin selling in the third quarter a version for wholesale distributors called SAP Business One, the American Express Edition.

SAP put much effort into making sure users can share master data between Business One and SAPs full-scale enterprise offerings, said Gary Fromer, SAP vice president for SMB and hosting.

The result is that Business One will attract subsidiaries whose parent companies use SAPs enterprise applications or those companies smaller suppliers and business partners, Fromer said.

SAP already offers MySAP All-in-One applications for small and midsize businesses in specific verticals and with complex business processes. Business One applications are for small businesses with less complex needs.

Potential customers also have enterprise software options from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. or smaller developers such as Best Software Inc. According to Fromer, SAPs advantage is the 30 years of experience it has and its market leadership among very large customers.

SAPs competency and experience message will not always resonate with small businesses.

Gibson Guitar Corp. last year moved from Oracle applications to Microsofts Great Plains applications because the company wanted to grow with the software, said Gibson Vice President and Chief Knowledge Officer Matthew Mullins. "We thought it would be easier to go with a vendor that was scaling up," said Mullins, in Nashville, Tenn.