Smaller firms value SAP brand above the technology

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Smaller firms value SAP brand above the technology

Firm's reputation is driving uptake.

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) choose SAP solutions over other products on the market chiefly because of the company's reputation in the enterprise, and because they want an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that needs little customisation.

The actual functionality supplied by SAP to the SME market seemed a lesser concern to customers at an event in London to discuss implementing SAP solutions.

"Our customers are big pharmaceutical companies and they want to see us using a reliable system," said Mark Ipema, operations manager at Dishman, a life sciences company in the Netherlands.

"We also had lots of people within our organisation that knew SAP products. It was an easy choice, and is easy to use as long as you don't want to go and start changing it."

Ipema explained that he did not want a custom built solution, such as that supplied by Sage, because of the risk of different programmers customising parts of the ERP system differently.

Ipema's remarks demonstrate how SAP can rely on its reputation and standard solutions to expand in the SME market, where there is fierce competition among vendors because of the comparatively saturated enterprise market.

To reinforce this, Rainer Zinow, innovation vice president at SAP Business ByDesign, said at the event that "many mid-market companies that we are targeting have close to no technical expertise".

David Bason, information services director at law firm Shoosmiths, explained that his final decision had been between two products, one supplied by Thomson Reuters and the other by SAP.

"Both were good products but Thomson Reuters is new to ERP, even though the brand is well known in the legal industry. Meanwhile, SAP's ERP functionality was well proven and we found we could use Tata Consultancy Services for the legal bit," he said.

Bason added that the templates developed by Tata can be added to the SAP system to ensure that it adheres to legal regulatory requirements.

Meanwhile, Steven Nijweide, a project manager for Kompaq, which produces brands for companies in the Netherlands, reinforced the fact that brand and the lack of customisation required by SAP's architecture are selling the firm's products.

"It is attractive as, not only do we think the product is easy to use, but all our clients are multinationals and it would be hard to find one client that is not running SAP," he said.

"Our customers know and trust the technology, and believe that it will allow them to easily share data. In actual fact, in the last four years we have never had a single request to share data, but they like the option being there all the same."

Nijweide noted how the limited SAP Business One functionality meant that he combined the system with additional solutions.

"This allows us to get the knowledge that fits with our business," he said. "It is a great system, and users do not see the difference between one system or another."

For example, Nijweide explained that Kompaq uses a warehouse add-on supplied by an independent partner than can be managed wirelessly.

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