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How to Map SME Business Processes before an SAP Implementation

Anyone who has been involved in a major ERP upgrade or implementation for a large corporate organisation will probably be familiar with the content of this post. It is, however, aimed at the smaller enterprise of 20 – 100 employees looking to either upgrade or to start using an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) product like SAP Business One.

I visit a lot of companies who are in the early stages of looking for a new IT solution to “streamline the business” and “reduce man hours on laborious processes”. In the majority of the initial meetings we spark some internal customer debate on how they actually operate as a business. A lot of SME’s simply operate in a way they have always operated in without much thought about process. Some of them are highly profitable as well! This lack of knowledge of internal process makes it very difficult to match any IT solution to the business and get the employees to adopt it and use it.

My advice to any organisation looking at a new technology solution is to take a look at the business and map out what you are actually doing now down to a department and process level . This is called the “As Is” Process. These don’t have to be done using any fancy modelling tool but just enough to actually see who is involved in processes, look at authorisation procedures and any document output. See an example of a customer “As Is” process flow below. A lot of customers are actually very surprised at how long and how many stages they have in a simple transactional process!





Once you have worked out how your business operates you then have a basis with which to move forwards and design the “To Be” states along with your integration partner. Most organisations take this opportunity to modify and improve some business processes. We often hear the phrase from customers “but we have always done it this way”. One of our Project Managers has a good answer to that “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you have always had” Basically if you want to move your business forward and enhance your process then you need to be open to change. This change needs to be “sold” to the business users so they understand the reason for change and the benefit it will have on their day to day jobs.

Below is the “To Be” process flow of the same customer after implementing SAP Business One and making some simplifications to the way they work.



My point in all of this is, if you are a Small to Medium Enterprise and have not mapped out the key processes of how your business works on a daily basis then it’s a good idea to do this before looking at a new Technology solution. It is also good to have an idea of where you want to get to and what goals you are looking to achieve, this will give your internal team and your SAP integration partner something to work towards. SAP Technology is great but if your own processes are outdated and defunct it’s not going to work. Process first Technology second!

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  • Great Blog Tim, with an application alot wider than the SME’s. From my experience, good process mapping has been mostly confined to the big ERP implementations and most implementations below or on the fringes of ERP do not touch on Business Process Mapping in any great detail. This is particularly the case in BI. I’ll try not to hijack your blog into a different area, but there are many other implementation area’s that could greatly benefit from a clear understanding of the business processes for which a solution is being designed, developed and implemented. Once again, good blog and well written. Thanks.
    • Thanks for your kind words! I do agree this could be applied to most areas of a business that are embarking on change. If you don’t know where you are now, how are you going to get to where you want to be?
  • “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you have always had” –

    One of the Best Line i’ve ever read.

    Very Good Article. Keep up the Great work!!