Barry Berlin, president of Client Interaction Inc., an SAP Business One reseller and integrator, stands squarely in the middle of the battle for supremacy in small business ERP systems.
Berlin sells SAP, Microsoft and NetSuite technology into the very market for which those three vendors are fighting so hard.
"What is typical today of many companies is that they need to keep track of accounting, reporting, [and] light manufacturing, as well as prospects and clients," Berlin said. "So, more people are buying business management solutions instead of accounting systems."
Berlin's firm is seeing an upswing in SAP Business One sales, and the company recently worked with SAP to deploy Business One software to a Malden, Mass.-based social service agency for the disabled. The process started about two years ago, when SAP identified U.S.-based nonprofit organizations to increase community involvement in the United States.
The nonprofit agency, Triangle Inc., scrapped its legacy systems, replacing them with SAP Business One. Triangle serves individuals with developmental disorders, learning disabilities, head injuries, addictions, emotional disorders, physical handicaps, physical injuries, deafness and hearing impairments, and blindness and visual impairments. The agency provides work, living and social programs to participants.
"Their needs were very complex, as most companies' are," Berlin said. "I came from a CRM practice, and of course a lot of companies buy just accounting applications or just CRM or manufacturing packages. But today many companies want more."
The agency puts program participants to work assembling products that are sold by retailers. It was looking to gain control of its assembling operation as well as its customer and sales operations. One of the pain points it addressed was electronic data interaction with its customers, which automates the ordering process by assigning specific product codes to products.
SAP targeted Triangle Inc., which was using legacy software from SBT Accounting Software and Systems to run its operations. Getting data out of the system was painfully sluggish, according to Triangle CEO Michael Rodrigues.
"If we got a call for 500 units of an item, we had to go in and physically verify if we had it in our inventory," Rodrigues said. "The access that all people in the organizational levels needed was just not available."
Regular reporting also resulted in headaches, according to Rodrigues.
"The comparative monthly report we would get three weeks after the end of the month … was six inches thick," he said. "It usually ended up as a doorstop."
It took approximately four months to deploy Business One and get about 10 employees trained to operate the new system. It has been live for about a year.
The deployment team had to make some modifications in order to get Business One functioning properly. Some features appeared to be designed for European users, such as the assumption that most payments would be made by wire transfer rather than by check, Rodrigues said. Also, accounts payable aging features were somewhat limited and had to be tweaked to give a desired level of obligations transactions.
"Besides the daily nuts and bolts improvements, all the people who are involved in the businesses now feel empowered because the tools are at their disposal to do the job really well," Rodrigues said. "They can quantify their impact on the business."