SAP is celebrating its 40th anniversary in a year marked by its continuing growth and success. The company’s impressive solution portfolio is also complemented by more than 2,400 certified partner solutions and a vast arsenal of industry-specific add-ons. But what is the real value of these add-ons? Let’s take a closer look.
Time Is Money
An Aberdeen Group survey of approximately 300 international businesses found that errors in deploying ERP systems can extend delivery dates and slow monthly accounting processes.1 So the question here is: How can companies help their staffs come to grips with their ERP systems so they can work more efficiently and accurately?
The answer seems to lie in transparency, the ease of use of the system, and staff IT training. According to the Aberdeen survey, 73% of employees at companies that turn around their end-of-month accounts quickly have complete visibility into the order process. Among the slower groups, only 28% have visibility. On average, this latter group needs an additional eight days to complete monthly accounting.
The use of add-ons for certain departments or business processes can go a long way to improve this transparency and ease of use. Employing an ERP add-on, for instance, helps ensure that staff have end-to-end, real-time insight into business process statuses (see sidebar for an example).
Many large corporations are also deploying add-ons to reduce manual tasks and activities. For instance, add-ons can help reduce HR costs and result in quicker lead times, increasing their value to accounting and management. Such tools can also lead to a faster return on investment in both order management and invoice processing.
A Familiar SAP Environment Drives Efficiency
IT training is another important component of ERP efficiency; according to a survey by the Computing Technology Association (CompTIA), 80% of US companies feel that a lack of employee IT knowledge or incorrect use of systems limits company success.2 Due to the dynamic nature of IT and the limited availability of training opportunities, staffs often don’t have the level of technological skills and system knowledge that managers consider necessary for their company to succeed.
Constant employee retraining is prohibitive in many ways. With add-ons, however, companies can ensure that their solutions integrate seamlessly with their SAP systems so users can continue to interact with the SAP interface that they already know well, eliminating the need for expanded training and avoiding errors resulting from incorrect use.
Now that we’ve looked at the advantages of using add-ons that integrate with SAP solutions, let’s explore some specific examples of these add-ons.
Track Orders from Placement to Successful Payment
Companies receive orders through many different channels — EDI, MFT/FTP, paper, fax, web, RFID, sensors — and keeping track of the orders can be quite time consuming and problematic. But an add-on such as SEEBURGER’s order-to-cash offering for SAP solutions can facilitate the entire process. This solution scans paper-based orders using OCR software and produces a multi-page TIFF file for archiving, which helps ensure compliance with legal requirements. It also adds value by:
- Extracting relevant order information by verifying it against the master data in the SAP system
- Enabling approval by an appropriate employee
- Providing end-to-end automation of processes — from capturing order information to accepting payment
- Enabling further processing of incoming orders on a dedicated portal
- Displaying a log of orders received for a quick and simple overview of all orders at any one time
- Provide Transparency Across the Entire Supply Chain
In an SAP system, users often display the various transactions for sales and distribution (SD), materials management (MM), and financial accounting (FI) on different screens. Logistics processes, in particular, are made up of many individual steps — from the receipt of data, to processing and accounting, to the dispatch of these receipts. To compile all the data needed for this process, one user must carry out about 40 different transactions, requiring as many as 10 open windows.
By contrast, add-ons such as SEEBURGER’s supply chain monitor solution allow users to capture all relevant information in one central location, making it easier for employees to reliably monitor and manage business processes in the SAP system. The add-on enables staff to view and analyze incoming and outgoing documents and directly access and work on them. Meanwhile, these company- and system-wide monitoring capabilities also minimize supply chain bottlenecks and cut costs caused by complaints and incorrect charges.
Automate Your Purchase-Fulfillment-Payment Process
Searching for invoices can require many mouse clicks as there is no invoice book in the SAP system. Setting up a central overview of these processes increases the quality of service for customers and suppliers since transparency and visibility are critical for ensuring compliance with legal requirements or guidelines.
The entire order-purchase-fulfillment-payment process is comprised of many smaller steps, such as requesting purchase orders, placing orders, confirming orders, receiving goods, receiving invoices, and approving payments. These steps create a complex web that affects various different departments. SEEBURGER’s purchase-to-pay offering for SAP solutions can fully automate these process steps. For example, invoices are automatically matched with the relevant orders, goods receipts, and master data, and users can complete payment processes with no manual intervention, up to and including automated accounting. This automation results in shorter lead times, seamless loggings, full cash discounts, and rapid invoice processing, all of which add up to enhanced efficiency for SAP systems and a bigger bottom line.
To learn more about how SEEBURGER’s add-ons can increase efficiency in your organization and to read the latest news on topics such as business partner integration, data security, cloud, and mobility, visit www.boost-your-erp.com.
Since 2010, Thomas Ebert has been responsible for solution extensions for SAP solutions and Web EDI solutions for all sectors of the Discrete Industry for SEEBURGER, Inc. Coming from the development and programming arena, Mr. Ebert previously worked in the automotive industry in project management as head of the Customer Center of Expertise and head of IT.
1. Aberdeen Group, “ERP in SME 2011: Setting the Stage for Growth” (September 2011). [back]
2.“Business Operations Impacted by Widening IT Skills Gap, New CompTIA Study Reveals” (March, 2012; www.comptia.org/news/pressreleases/12-03-12/Business_Operations_Impacted_by_Widening_IT_Skills_Gap_New_CompTIA_Study_Reveals.aspx). [back]