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"The Silver Bullet" & The All-in-One (A1)

by Yosh Eisbart

June 3, 2010

"The Silver Bullet Band"

The Silver Bullet?

To All-in-One or to not All-in-One

I have been discussing product selection strategy with a midsize company in the Midwest for the last several months. This company finds itself presenting with both unique and common challenges in their quest for SAP. Since this process has been enlightenting, frustrating, and arduous - I wanted to share some thoughts, some real-world challenges, and solutions on how this organization is approaching the common midsize market question... should they implement All-in-One or go with standard ECC 6.0.


To make this easier - let's call the company ABC corp. ABC just recently split from its parent company overseas via a Venture Capital divestiture. Here lies the unique challenge: the parent company has been a long time user of SAP (ECC 6.0 to be exact) and therefore ABC already has some experience (not all good) with SAP. Over the last several months - ABC has been attempting to understand whether they are entitled to licenses per the original EWA (Enterprise Wide Agreement) with SAP AG.

I have seen this many times... the parent company wishes to off-load licensing c ost for their financial reasons while at the same time - the divestiture also would obviously love to receive the licences gratis (free). Unfortunately - in this case (and in many similar cases) -  it doesn't appear as if this is possible (i.e. ABC needs to purchase new licenses). Here lies the common challenge (and really the point of this post): which SAP flavor/product makes the most sense to select.

(Note: ABC has been looking at multiple ERP's including SAP; however - within the SAP product wheel house - they are only considering an A1 or ECC. They are not interested in Business ByDesign.)

Breaking down the Options

Below is a breakdown of their thought processes behind their top 3 SAP solutions:

  • All-in-One: In most cases - implementing an A1 would most likely be the least expensive overall solution both from a licensing and implementation perspective. Given an “out-of-the-box” solution delivered by the A1 partner has been a very tantalizing proposition for ABC. In theory - if the chosen A1 truly has that additional layer of industry specific functionality NOT covered via standard SAP "Best Practices" and/or "Industry Practices" (both available out-of-the-box via SOLMAN) - then this is indeed compelling. The challenge is prior to purchase seeing this functionality demo'ed and proved. In some cases - the A1 advantage is either vaporware or non-existent. This equates to a waste of money.
  • ECC 6.0 “Vanilla” Best Practice install: I would venture to say that implementing “out-of-box” ECC with Best Practices meets more than 75% of most existing business practices – and the other 25% could either be addressed via minor customization or ABC (and other companies) migra ting to the SAP Best Practice model (or combo). All companies believe that they are unique and that standard software packages miss the mark. In my experience – most organizations (especially those in the midmarket) can leverage standard SAP effectively with minimal customization. In this case - and back to the unqiue ABC challenge - ABC has difficulties with the concept of ECC based on previous experiences when they were are part of the mothership but this was due to HEAVY customization in the mothership's SAP environment.
  • “One stop shop” ECC 6.0 “Vanilla” Install: Essentially – the same model as above only that the "one stop shop" ECC 6.0 model along with all of the other SAP functions are delivered by a single vendor. This is a relatively new option delivered by only a handful of vendors. An advantage is that this partner can amortize the cost over a long term period with fixed monthly costs. This model delivers on all aspects of the puzzle… i.e. licenses, hosting, implementation, AMS, etc.  Assuming that the give partner can effectively deliver on all aspects and the $$$ makes sense – this “one throat to choke” model can be very appealing. This again is very appealing but obviously would need to look at the details re: scope, SLA’s, etc. to ensure there are no gotcha’s such as limited # of issues addressed per month, etc.


So far... there is none. ABC is still investigating and evaluating the various options; however - the A1 is looking like the direction they are leaning towards. More kicking of tires needs to be performed but thus far - pleased with the product selection process thus far; the level of detail pursued; and the due diligence exercised.

As always - looking forward to other SAP'ers thoughts, comments, and insight.

All the best.

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