I’ve heard SAP is bad. Why is SAP so widespread?

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I’ve heard SAP is bad. Why is SAP so widespread?

Answer 1

Brett Strouss

Innovator, Strategist, Product Developer

A simple, blanket statement like “SAP is bad” can’t properly summarize anything the size of SAP software. This is a long answer but explains why enterprise software is complex, why businesses found it worth the expense to install and operate SAP, and why significant business process redesign is a large part of the implementation time and expense (and pain).

I started working with SAP software in 1991, was trained in all of the major modules in the old R/2, and then R/3, helped start two major SAP consulting practices, wrote many multi-million dollar proposals, ran some multi-million dollar projects, and left consulting to become Director of Channel Marketing for SAP America in the 2000-2001 time frame. I am no longer a part of the SAP community, but feel qualified to answer.

While the SAP software has evolved a lot since then, it has gotten less expensive to implement and easier to use, while greatly increasing in functionality and technological sophistication. It was already a huge system back then, and I was dealing with this “expense and complexity” question a lot in those earlier years. The rumors weren’t totally untrue, but SAP would not still be the system running a majority of the top companies in the world if it wasn’t darn good software.

Answer 2

Jorge Laranjo

SAP Consultant and Software Engineer

I’m assuming you are classifying the SAP software as being unfriendly in the bases that the GUI is not the best looking out there.

Well, you need to understand three things:

Legacy Systems

Legacy systems were way worse than what SAP software is, in terms of GUI (think mainframe)

Standard solutions and Integration:

SAP software (ERP) gives you integration out of the box (think Sales and Distribution integrates with SAP FI and SAP Material Management, Plant Management, etc).

Think about it, out of the box you have a software that can take an order from a customer, pass the details to the logistic department, get the materials sourced if required, get the sale invoiced and collected, manage credit risk as in do not sell more than what the customer can have in credit etc.

On top of all that you can add modules as you need them and not all at once

Stability and longevity: How many pieces of software do you see out there that are still available, maintained and being actively developed after 44 years? And how many of those give you solutions that fit your needs out of the box but also give you the opportunity to customize its behaviour without needing for the software produced to change code and ship a new version?
I think one of the reasons while choosing one software over another is longevity and stability.

Is not uncommon these days that a company creates a software, after 3-4 years the company is sold and the software is not developed anymore or is even shut down and customers are told to move on.
Well, for a company ‘moving on’ could cost them their business thus companies choose solutions that they believe will be around, supported and developed in 10-20-30 years time.

On top of everything else, is a proven and tested solution.

What’s the point in going with an untested solution if the company will not benefit from that ‘adventure’?

SAP will be the standard in ERP until a better, faster, cheaper, easier solution comes along. But that is assuming that SAP stops innovating and SAP is still innovating, even after 44 years.

Answer 3

Brett Strouss

Principal / Founder at Visionary Tech Inc

Let me answer with a story from the first time I was introduced to packaged software about 25 years ago.

As a young and competent developer who had become a principal consultant at a company recently acquired by one of the Big Five management consulting companies, things were going well for me.

Our company developed large, custom, multi-user, complex database applications and had developed tools and methods to allow us to build big, complex things very quickly.

I had just arrived in town to get 14 weeks of training on this new to the US, hot global software from a German company called SAP, because I would be leading the charge for SAP consulting services for our subsidiary, while personally delivering those services, too.

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