Save the rodents. Stop SAP now!

According to BusinessWeek SAP needs more guinea pigs for Business by Design. My question is – What happened to the prior test subjects? My guess is it didn’t end well for the companies who signed up for BBD 1.0.

Approach is Flawed
My understanding is that BBD was conceived as a series of standalone products designed to tie back to the main on-premise ERP solution. Each grew up separately with its own data structures and standards. The idea was that their customers would not want ERP in the cloud, but would love to have SaaS CRM, HCM and other “ancillary” products that integrated with SAP R/3.

That’s a reasonable approach if you are not committed to SaaS as the future, if you believe that most companies, regardless of size will prefer to manage their own ERP. However, trying to meld those silos together into a cohesive SaaS solution to run the entire business is a fool’s errand. ERP is about transactions. A great ERP solution will capture all the details about a transaction as it happens, not waiting for those details to be written down and keyed in by someone else. A great ERP solution should be conceived in its entirety, not by 12 separate teams.

A Culture Change is Needed, but Impossible
It seems that SAP itself is divided on the approach to cloud computing and SaaS. It’s as if there is a high-stakes cage fight going on. In this corner you have Mr. Wookey who is committed and could make this happen (if he were elsewhere). In the other corner you have Mr. McDermott who is convinced SaaS is just for CRM, that his customers would never want SaaS ERP.

The most important ‘S’ in SaaS is service. SAP would need to shift gears to become a Service company, not a “Ship it and forget it” software company. With their on-premise solutions, they have Deloitte, Accenture, Tata and others to provide the customer care. Moving to SaaS, they would be on the hook every day for software performance and quality.

I just don’t see it happening within SAP.

Alternatives Exist
I will be attending Sapience next week in Boston. It is an entire conference devoted to alternatives to SAP – software, services, maintenance… the works. Even former SAP executives are speaking there. The cloud is overtaking SAP. In this case, the cloud SAP is dealing with appears to be Halon… Or maybe it’s nitrous and they are just out of it.

Plex Online has proven to be a viable alternative to SAP in the mid-market. Companies with $2billion in revenue and smaller run the entire enterprise on the SaaS ERP/MES solution. They are doing so at about 20% of the cost of an SAP implementation.

Léo, please, stop the suffering.

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