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In this review, I’m going to share my analysis and evaluation from my hands-on experience with SAP. But first, if you’re just beginning your search for the best enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, check out my picks for the best ERP software. You probably already know that SAP is among the most popular ERP tools out there, but you need to better understand what’s good (and not so good) about it.

This in-depth SAP review will walk you through the tool's pros and cons, features and functionality, and more to help guide you to better understand its capabilities and its suitability for your needs.

SAP S/4HANA uses artificial intelligence to help its manufacturing ERP software stand out.
I like how SAP's S/4HANA software can easily analyze operations and produce reports, as shown here.

SAP Software Product Overview

In this SAP review, we delve into how SAP S/4HANA, as an enterprise software, revolutionizes project management and other business processes by offering real-time data processing and a suite of collaborative tools. Primarily targeting large enterprises and mid-sized businesses, SAP enhances the customer experience and drives customer success by streamlining operations across various modules, which is particularly beneficial for roles ranging from software developers to management executives. By offering a centralized platform, SAP addresses critical pain points such as fragmented data, inefficient processes, and lack of real-time insights, empowering companies to make informed decisions quickly.

Among its best features are its advanced analytics, robust project management tools, and eligibility features for credit hours tracking, which have consistently received positive employee reviews, marking it as a great place to work. Additionally, the SAP Business Technology Platform supports innovation, allowing coworkers to collaborate seamlessly, whether in English or any other supported language, contributing to a culture that values satisfactory academic progress and the overall development of each software engineer within their ecosystem.

Pros

  • Financial Management: SAP excels in consolidating financial data, offering companies precise, real-time insights into their financial standing.
  • Supply Chain Optimization: It streamlines inventory tracking, manufacturing, and logistics, enhancing overall supply chain visibility and control.
  • Advanced Analytics: SAP’s powerful analytics translate vast data into actionable insights, aiding strategic decision-making processes.

Cons

  • Complexity: The extensive features of SAP can overwhelm, requiring dedicated training and professional guidance for navigation.
  • Customization Costs: While adaptable, tailoring the software to specific business processes often involves additional expenses and resources.
  • Implementation Duration: Setting up the system is time-consuming, demanding considerable planning, adjustment, and testing phases.

Expert Opinion

Reflecting on my extensive experience with various finance software, SAP holds a distinctive position. Its functionality is comprehensive, yet this breadth can be a double-edged sword compared to more streamlined solutions. Where SAP shines is its unparalleled depth in features like real-time financial management and detailed analytics, crucial for businesses needing intricate, robust reporting tools. However, it can falter with its dense interface and often steep learning curve, a stark contrast to some competitors offering more intuitive, albeit less powerful, platforms.

The initial setup and customization demand a significant investment of both time and capital, not always the case with alternative solutions. In judging its suitability, I find SAP is best chosen for larger enterprises or rapidly growing mid-sized businesses that require detailed, expansive system integrations and have the capacity to handle its complexities.

SAP: The Bottom Line

Unique in its offering, SAP stands out with its capability to provide a deeply integrated system that aligns all facets of a business's operations. What sets it apart is not just its array of features but the depth and control it offers within each of those elements. Particularly impressive is its ability to handle complex, multinational supply chains and financial operations, providing a level of insight and analysis that is hard to match.

This robustness allows companies to not just manage resources but to strategize, plan, and forecast with an extraordinary level of detail and precision, a testament to its standing as a comprehensive, powerhouse solution.

SAP Deep Dive

Here's a deep dive into SAP features, best use cases, pricing, customer support, and other purchase factors.

Product Specifications

  1. Budget Forecasting - Yes
  2. Revenue Management - Yes
  3. Accounts Receivable - Yes
  4. Accounts Payable - Yes
  5. General Ledger - Yes
  6. Multi-Currency Support - Yes
  7. Fixed Asset Management - Yes
  8. Expense Tracking - Yes
  9. Audit Trail - Yes
  10. Financial Reporting - Yes
  11. Project Accounting - Yes
  12. Inventory Management - Yes
  13. Payroll Processing - No
  14. Time Tracking - Yes
  15. Debt Management - Yes
  16. Compliance Management - Yes
  17. Risk Management - Yes
  18. Procurement - Yes
  19. Quote Management - Yes
  20. Order Management - Yes
  21. E-commerce - No
  22. Credit Card Processing - No
  23. Bank Reconciliation - Yes
  24. APIs / Integration - Yes
  25. Mobile Access - Yes

SAP Feature Overview

  1. Budget Forecasting: SAP enables precise and flexible budget planning, crucial for companies to strategize and predict future financial scenarios.
  2. Revenue Management: The software provides detailed insights into revenue streams, helping businesses identify and optimize their income sources.
  3. General Ledger: SAP’s general ledger feature offers a centralized framework to capture all financial data, ensuring transparency and compliance.
  4. Multi-Currency Support: This is essential for global businesses, as it allows for seamless currency conversion and management in real-time financial operations.
  5. Financial Reporting: SAP’s robust reporting includes real-time data and analysis, empowering businesses with immediate insights for informed decision-making.
  6. Risk Management: By identifying, assessing, and prioritizing risks, SAP helps in the formulation of strategies to efficiently manage contingencies.
  7. Procurement: This feature streamlines the procurement process, from purchase order management to supplier relationship management.
  8. Compliance Management: SAP ensures businesses adhere to global financial regulations and standards, reducing legal risks.
  9. Audit Trail: Maintaining detailed records of business transactions, and facilitating thorough internal and regulatory audits.
  10. Inventory Management: Real-time tracking of inventory levels, orders, sales, and deliveries optimizes supply chain efficiency.

Standout Functionality

  1. Advanced Analytics: Beyond basic financial metrics, SAP delves into predictive analytics and machine learning, offering businesses a deeper understanding and foresight into their operations and market trends.
  2. Comprehensive Compliance Management: SAP’s adherence to international compliance standards is exceptional, addressing various regulations across different countries and industries.
  3. Integrated Business Planning: Unlike standard financial software, SAP extends into holistic business performance, integrating finance with other departments like sales, HR, and supply chain, ensuring aligned strategic objectives.

Integrations

SAP provides native integrations with a variety of external systems and business applications. Notable integrations include leading CRM systems, Microsoft Office applications, and various HR and e-commerce platforms, facilitating a unified business environment. They offer a versatile API, enabling custom integration with business-specific applications. This flexibility is further enhanced by SAP's extensive marketplace of certified add-ons, extending functionalities to cater to unique business needs.

SAP Pricing

Pricing upon request.

Ease of Use

Navigating the complexities of SAP presents an initial challenge, especially given its wide array of features and deep, intricate configuration options. As someone who has experienced this firsthand, I understand the importance of a structured onboarding process, which SAP requires to get teams up to speed. The user interface, though packed with functionalities, isn’t always intuitive, necessitating proper training and sometimes ongoing support.

Customer Support

Assessing SAP's customer support, I noticed they provide extensive resources, including detailed documentation, tutorials, and access to a community of users. However, direct support can sometimes lag, with response times that may vary significantly. Some users express frustration, particularly regarding resolving more complex issues, highlighting a gap that often requires leveraging third-party experts or additional paid services for expedient assistance.

SAP Use Case

Who Would Be A Good Fit For SAP?

In my assessment, SAP fits best with large enterprises and mid-sized businesses that need a robust, comprehensive financial system. Its most loyal customers typically come from the manufacturing, retail, and logistics sectors, all industries that require the depth of features and integrations that SAP offers. The tool is highly suitable for companies with complex supply chains, compliance requirements, and those operating in multiple locations or with international markets.

Teams that are particularly large, spanning different departments or geographical regions, benefit significantly from SAP’s extensive suite of tools, especially its capabilities to consolidate various business processes into one unified system.

Who Would Be A Bad Fit For SAP?

Companies that might not find SAP to be a good fit are small businesses or startups operating with lean teams and simpler processes. In environments where rapid deployment and ease of use are paramount, or where IT resources are scarce, these groups often find themselves grappling with the system's steep learning curve and complexity. Industries with less intricate financial workflows also may not utilize SAP to its full potential, making the investment hard to justify.

The most disappointed customers are those who seek plug-and-play solutions, immediate ease of use, or those with limited budgets for extensive system customization and professional service consultations.

SAP FAQs

What are the primary industries that use SAP?

SAP is widely used across various sectors, including manufacturing, retail, service industries, public services, and financial services.

Can SAP integrate with other third-party systems?

Yes, SAP can integrate with numerous other systems through its API, and it supports a range of third-party integrations out of the box.

Is SAP suitable for small businesses?

SAP is generally more tailored towards medium to large enterprises due to its extensive features and associated operational complexity.

Does SAP offer cloud-based solutions?

Yes, SAP provides options for cloud-based deployments alongside traditional on-premises solutions.

What kind of support options does SAP offer?

SAP offers a range of support resources, including tutorials, documentation, community forums, and direct contact options like live chat and phone support.

Are customizations possible in SAP?

Yes, businesses can customize many aspects of SAP to fit their specific operational needs and industry requirements.

Do users need training to use SAP effectively?

Proper onboarding and training are highly recommended to fully leverage SAP’s capabilities and complex features.

How does SAP handle data security and privacy?

SAP has rigorous data security protocols and complies with global privacy regulations, ensuring that user data is handled securely and with confidentiality.

Alternatives to SAP

If you're exploring options beyond SAP, consider these alternatives:

  • Oracle NetSuite: Best for companies needing a scalable solution with strong eCommerce and CRM features.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: Ideal for those who want deep integration with Microsoft products and a user-friendly interface.
  • Intuit QuickBooks: A more suitable choice for small to medium-sized businesses looking for straightforward accounting software with a gentle learning curve.

SAP Company Overview & History

SAP, which stands for Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing, is known globally as a leader in enterprise application software. Companies of various sizes and industries use SAP to streamline their operations, customer relations, and data processing needs. SAP SE is a European multinational corporation owned by shareholders, with its headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. The company boasts a diverse and experienced team, including notable members like Hasso Plattner, co-founder and chairman of the Supervisory Board.

SAP’s mission statement focuses on helping businesses run efficiently, fostering sustainability, and enhancing economic development worldwide. Since its inception in 1972, SAP has marked numerous milestones, including pioneering ERP software, expanding globally, and continually innovating with new software solutions like SAP S/4HANA.

Summary

Reflecting on this review, it's clear that SAP stands as a powerhouse in the realm of finance software, particularly for mid-sized to large enterprises in need of comprehensive, scalable solutions. Its suite of features, level of integration, and commitment to compliance and security make it a top contender in the market. However, its complexity and cost can be prohibitive for smaller businesses or those with simpler needs.

I recommend businesses assess their needs thoroughly, consider the investment in training and implementation, and weigh it against the potential ROI that SAP promises. I invite all readers to contribute, comment, and share their experiences with SAP, as your insights are invaluable for others considering this robust system.

By Simon Litt

Simon Litt is the Editor of The CFO Club, where he shares his passion for all things money-related. Performing research, talking to experts, and calling on his own professional background, he'll be working hard to ensure that The CFO Club is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to stay informed on the latest financial trends and topics in the world of tech.

Prior to editing this publication, Simon spent years working in, and running his own, investor relations agency, servicing public companies that wanted to reach and connect deeper with their shareholder base. Simon's experience includes constructing comprehensive budgets for IR activities, consulting CEOs & executive teams on best practices for the public markets, and facilitating compliant communications training.