Earlier this week IT analyst firm Forrester Research published a short but juicy research updated entitled “The Road Ahead for SAP’s Business ByDesign” with the subtitle, “The Midmarket SaaS ERP App Suite is Well Positioned for A Variety of Use Cases.” Forrester states ByDesign is now “…a viable SaaS worthy of consideration…”, and recommends its customers to “put ByD on your SMB ERP short list and consider using it at your subsidiaries”.
Forrester researchers China Martens, Craig Le Clair, and Andrew Magarietake a critical look at ByDesign from the perspective of “business process pros” (or Business Process Experts, BPXes, in SAPinese) in midmarket companies. They then examine the different use cases where ByDesign is being adopted in the market, and proceed to make a series of recommendations.
Breadth Is Clear Differentiator
Forrester validates that a clear differentiator for ByDesign is its breadth. “Effectively, ByD functions as a one-stop shop for a medium-size organization looking to source the bulk of its business software from a single vendor. ByD supports 35 end-to-end business processes and can be adopted in a modular fashion so organizations don’t have to take on the entire suite from the get-go.” Note: don’t let the number of business processes fool you into thinking who is the most complete. For example, a recent customer story from a banking customer of SAP for Banking was describing how the bank went from 140 processes to 40 as part of a simplification when they implemented their business processes using SAP for Banking. What matters is both scope and modularity, as Forrester states above.
Platform Supports SaaS Portfolio
Another important point Forrester makes is ByDesign is now the root of an entire portfolio of SaaS applications, the Line of Business apps that are designed to integrate with SAP’s on-premise SAP Business Suite. This is important for two reasons. First as stated by Forrester, “Cross-fertilization between SAP’s LOB apps and ByD is likely” – innovative features pioneered in an app such as Sales OnDemand will potentially migrate to SAP Business ByDesign and vice versa. Second, the ByDesign platform is becoming a thriving business crossing multiple market segments – another sign of its long term viability.
ByDesign Use Cases
Forrester mentions four use cases for ByDesign that they see, based on customers they’ve examined:
- Increasing company-wide visibility highlighting customer WL Plastics benefitting from ByDesign’s real time analytics even though they have very few IT resources.
- Unifying different lines of business – describing how San Jose Sharks uses ByDesignto manage several lines of business from the professional hockey team to merchandising while integrating to several other services.
- Bringing financial rigor to startup subsidiaries – discusses how The Dow Chemical Company’s North American startup Safechem uses ByDesign for managing financials.
- Running regional subsidiaries – showcasing Nokia Tej, an Indian subsidiary of Nokia’s usage of ByDesign to manage leads and opportunities.
Finally Forrester ends with some useful recommendations:
- Keep a tight rein on your scope – ok, by now we’re all used to hearing “feature creep, bad”. I would add to this recommendation by mentioning that ByDesign is really good for iterative improvement. Look at your project as a series of business transformation weaves. On the first cycle, get the basics in place, see how the software fits your needs. On a second round of improvement, refine the fit, increase the scope to other departments. By the time you reach the third round, you will have a good idea whether any customizations might be needed, and you can work with your ByDesign partner to add needed screens, reports, and apps, or to have these custom developed.
- Create a cross functional team – the key to any successful ERP implementation is engagement with the business. A SaaS offering such as ByDesign eliminates a lot of IT tasks, so really, its about working with the business. Make sure you have a ByDesign lead in every department that’s involved in the decisions for configuration, training, and rollout.
- Estimate your implementation time Forrester’s concern is that you start paying subscription fees for users that aren’t ready to use the system. Considering that many of the technical tasks related to ERP are handled by the SaaS service provider, the biggest time delay to adoption is acculturation by the business. So, I would say the above two points of managing scope and engaging with your coworkers in the different departments of the company are vital for speeding up adoption.
- Rely on ByDesign partner to be your ByDesign help desk Forrester is right here, but they don’t know how right they really are. They say don’t burden your limited IT staff. In fact, its not an IT person who should be the lead for managing ByDesign. There’s a role called “Key User” that is basically a power user + system administrator. But the “ITish” tasks are fairly minimal. Instead, this person is the one who can adapt the system, create custom report types, and push them out to their coworkers to provide new real time reporting view screens. The person in your company who, every month, used to collect all the data and create excel reports for management before the ByDesign system was implemented is exactly the right person to staff this role. However, some ByDesign customers are not staffing this role. In this case, ask your partner to staff it for you. There will be a small ongoing retainer for this service, but really, you are getting a “CIO-type service” in addition to a “key user” service. And in the end, you’ll be much happier with the adaptability of your ByDesign system.
If you’d like to read this report for yourself, SAP has made it available.