This content is part of the Buyer's Guide: A buyer's guide to the top ERP systems

Take a closer look at SAP Business Suite

The HANA-powered SAP Business Suite 7 is the company's most robust offering yet, giving businesses faster ERP applications and new analytics.

In January 2013, the renowned ERP vendor introduced SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, allowing users to run real-time business operations and analytics on a next-generation, in-memory platform. On-premises or in the cloud, HANA can provide insights into data inside the SAP Business Suite, and can create analytical scenarios based on internal and external data.

In February of this year, SAP launched the next-generation suite with S/4HANA, a new suite fully built for HANA, with the more modern design of the SAP Fiori user experience. The new suite is designed to help enterprises drive their digital transformation in the cloud or on-premises. Trial offers are available for both versions.

SAP Business Suite's current release is Suite 7, SAP Enhancement Package 7, SPS 07. The software is delivered on-premises and also in a hosted subscription model by SAP in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, or by SAP's business partners in their respective cloud environments.

Business Suite runs on standard operating systems (e.g., AIX, HP-UX, Redhat Linux, Suse Linux, Solaris and Windows). It covers core business processes like order to cash, plan to product, procure to pay and request to service as well as core functionality in finance and HR, plus related analytics.

Business Suite supports line-of-business, industry-specific, and business-support processes with modular software that can work with other SAP and non-SAP software. Key ERP modules are:

Customer relationship management (CRM), which covers advanced functions in marketing, sales and service with related analytical capabilities.

Supply chain management (SCM), which provides demand-driven business planning, efficient logistics and order fulfillment, response and supply orchestration and real-time network insights.

Supplier relationship management (SRM), which delivers an integrated procure-to-pay offering with unified access and information displays as well as end-to-end collaborative service procurement.

Product lifecycle management (PLM), which provides embedded functionality for the product lifecycle for discrete and process industries.

Business Warehouse (BW), which delivers reporting, analysis, and interpretation of business data, and also provides a high-performance infrastructure that helps evaluate and interpret data.

Innovations and enhancements to SAP ERP are delivered in three ways:

SAP Notes, which is a continuous delivery of incremental improvements to existing applications (e.g., legal changes or Customer Connection results);

SAP Service Packs (SPS), a quarterly compilation and delivery of SAP Notes; and

SAP Enhancement Packages (EhP), where enhancements to the software are delivered every two years, and the enhancements are large scale, combined with the content of service packs.

SAP says its ERP includes flexible module, support and implementation options. Companies pick the functionality they want to use by switching on SAP's various business functions. The SAP Business Suite is used by organizations in specific industry verticals and organizations that are multinational. Its clients range from large enterprises with millions of users to small companies with fewer than 10 users. To assist small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), SAP offers its ERP through its business partner ecosystem, which delivers content and pre-configuration of the ERP with SAP Best Practices for specific countries and industries. This expertise can help SMBs shorten their implementation cycles, reduce the complexity of the ERP enablement process and ensure that the ERP configuration they select is optimal for their business needs.

SAP Business Suite follows SAP's established standard licensing model, which comprises two fundamental elements: software licenses and associated maintenance and support services. These licenses are sold separately. The software licenses are based on the number of ERP modules that the company is using in combination with the number of users (and the levels of ERP system use for each user).

SAP also offers a variety of technical support options. SAP Enterprise Support includes ERP mission-critical support services and comes with a set of service-level agreements (SLAs) for corrective action and collaboration. It is priced at 22% of a company's SAP software license. SAP Standard Support costs 19% of a software license and is a baseline self-service support offering without SLAs. Standard Support is for companies that want to take responsibility for managing their own ERP systems. For companies that want to use SAP ERP in the cloud, support is bundled into the subscription pricing.

As an extra layer of "premium" support services, companies can also opt to add SAP MaxAttention, which is a strategic collaboration service where SAP and the customer collaborate in planning new areas of the business that would benefit from SAP ERP; or SAP ActiveEmbedded, where SAP engages with the company in ERP optimization and acceleration of technology adoption. SAP can also customize implementations of Business Suite ERP to shorten the time it takes companies to get up and running. SAP does this through its Rapid Deployment Solutions methodology that preconfigures ERP software and service packages based on a company's ERP needs.

SAP offers 30-day free trial versions of SAP ERP on HANA and SAP CRM on HANA. These trial versions can be deployed on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

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