It has recently been announced that world leading ERP Software Company SAP extended the length of time customers will get standard maintenance on it’s ERP 6.0 and Business Suite 7 applications. This has been extended from three to five years to reduce concerns about major upgrades. These plans to extend support from three to five years will be well received among users of “Big” SAP due to the size and complexity of the system but what does it mean for users of SAP Business One?
At present the Small Business version of SAP is supported for three years from date of release and there are no plans to change this. SAP Business One is a much smaller more flexible version of its big brother and three years is about the right amount of time for a business to keep an IT solution before looking at upgrading and enhancing it.
So, what can customers expect from SAP Business one in terms of upgrades and maintenance?
One of my customers said to me “If I buy the latest version of SAP Business One from you now, it will be out dated by the time we go live in four months” This is an understandable perception but not true. There is a Roadmap for SAP Business One with minor upgrades twice a year and major upgrades every 12 or so months. I compare it to buying any piece of technology like a mobile phone or a computer, a few months after it has been purchased a new version is launched. It doesn’t mean you keep buying new computers every time a better one comes out! As a user of SAP Business One you benefit from the feedback of over 32,000 similar businesses to yours feeding back information and suggestions to enhance the functionality of the system. Consequently, SAP are continually improving the software and how it can benefit your business, some of these enhancements are minor and are applied to the product you purchased and are called “Patches”. These Patches or Patch Levels can be applied quickly and sometimes even remotely by your SAP partner and can often bring improved functionality and usability.
Most of our customers choose to go for a full upgrade every two to three years. The cost of the software upgrade itself is included in the Annual Maintenance you pay to SAP and the only charge is to your partner in terms of time to implement. We normally quote about five days for an upgrade like this, it can be done quicker but this is not advised. It’s safer to upgrade and run the new version in a test environment and make sure the transition happens smoothly.
Some smaller software companies who are competitors to SAP Business One try to tell their prospective customers that the SAP upgrade path is a bad thing and they are better with a solution that only ever makes minor changes. The truth is, if you buy SAP Business One you are guaranteed to have a solution that will not need to be replaced due to the roadmap and upgrade path. It is also good to know that the Research and Development budget for SAP is huge and many of the innovations we see in the bigger version are being filtered down to Business One customers.