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SAP upgrades SAP Business ByDesign, integrates Xcelsius, Crystal Reports

With its recent upgrade to SAP Business ByDesign, SAP is winning over some new customers.

With a recent upgrade to its SaaS ERP for the midmarket, SAP is winning new customers for the software.

ResearchPoint wouldn't have purchased SAP Business ByDesign without the functionality in Feature Pack 2, debuted last month, according to CFO Patti Charlton. In fact, when the organization, which provides clinical trial services for companies, began its search for a more robust replacement for its Peachtree accounting software, it didn't even know Business ByDesign existed.

"Without 2.0, I wouldn't have signed on," she said, adding that the current release doesn't do what they need it to do in terms of project billing, invoicing and budgeting. "There's no budgeting at all in 1.5."

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Over the past month, SAP has announced two enhancements – the Feature Pack 2 upgrade and the addition of  Web services -- to its SaaS ERP, which still isn't generally available. SAP debuted the software about two years ago but has since scaled back Business ByDesign's release until it figures out how to make it profitable and better execute certain processes. SAP has 40 customers that have gone live with the software and another 40 that are set to go live within the next few weeks in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, India and China.

The Feature Pack 2 upgrade includes 35 end-to-end process scenarios, many of which include integrations with SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports and Xcelsius software, enabling customers to do their own ad hoc reporting and analysis. Some of the new scenarios include make-to-specification, financial closing and drop shipment. The new release also includes groupware integrations with Microsoft Office, including Outlook.

These upgrades will be delivered using the same mechanisms as the  enhancement packages for Business Suite 7 software. Business ByDesign is based on NetWeaver, and upgrades will be propagated through the switch framework. The feature packs will be the primary way technical upgrades are delivered, and service packs will be used to fill in functionality around issues, according to Jeff Stiles, SAP's senior vice president of small and medium enterprise (SME) marketing.

It's taking customers between eight and 12 weeks to implement Business ByDesign, Stiles said, and the upgrade process is much shorter than that, although he couldn't say how long.

SAP said it's being selective about the customers it chooses to sell the software to, so that it can ensure that end-to-end business scenarios work. SAP is now focused more on selling its Business ByDesign product to customers willing to try out all or most of its components and less on those interested in trying out only one of its components.

After extensive discussions, ResearchPoint came away with the feeling that SAP was committed to Business ByDesign, Charlton said. The company also looked at Oracle and Sage, but Oracle was too expensive, she said, and Sage didn't do the invoicing and budgeting that ResearchPoint needed. ResearchPoint has 60 employees, all of whom will use the software in some capacity.

Feature Pack 2 has been available for existing customers since July, and many of its charter clients are using it, Stiles said. Most clients should be live with the software in the next few weeks.

Still, SAP is working with those customers to figure out how to better automate a lot of that upgrade process, including taking out labor costs.

That said, pricing of the software hasn't changed since its debut, according to Stiles. The starting price for SAP Business ByDesign is $149 per user per month. This price includes software, services and support for companies with a minimum of 25 licensed users.

"In terms of the mass adoption of SaaS," Stiles said, "affordability is going to be a key."

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