An Independent SAP Human Resources Software Review
Founded in 1972, SAP (Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung or System Analysis and Program Development) grew from a 5 person start-up to one of the largest enterprise software publishers in the world (and by far the largest software company in Europe). Operating under the auspices of the segments of Products, Consulting, and Training, SAP employs about 50,000 employees in over 50 countries. SAP is the largest ERP software provider and according to analyst firm Gartner, the company has approximately 25% ERP market share. However, when reviewing HR software alone, Gartner indicates that SAP's market share sits at roughly 18% in the Human Capital Management (HCM) software sector—further proof of the intense and growing competition in this market.
SAP software solutions give the company a global footprint that has been adopted by over 102,000 customers that serve literally tens of millions of their own staff. For larger organizations, this adoption comes in the form of the company's flagship offering—SAP Business Suite—an on-premise ERP application designed for organizations with 2500+ employees, and the focus for this SAP software review.
SAP also offers a number of smaller ERP software solutions (with significant market sizing overlap), including SAP Business All-in-One (an on-premise application designed for larger middle market companies with 500-2500 staff), SAP Business ByDesign (a cloud offering designed for smaller middle market companies with 100-500 staff) and SAP Business One (an on-premise system designed for smaller businesses with less than 100 staff). Of these SAP software systems, it should be noted that all except Business One and Business ByDesign are most notably sold directly by SAP (while Business One and Business ByDesign are sold through a reseller channel) and all are built for Enterprise Resource Planning with varying degrees of HR and HCM capabilities.
A (Mostly) Organic Growth Strategy
Unlike its primary competitor Oracle, which has grown in large part via a long-term acquisition strategy, SAP has built the bulk of its success organically. In fact, a Boersen-Zeitung interview with SAP's CFO, Werner Brandt, indicated that "organic growth" was at the center of the company's growth strategy, further citing that the company "makes acquisitions to gain technology, not to boost revenues, and purchases are not based on earnings multiples". While this method of growth is easily supported, the acquisitions claim is certainly interesting given prior acquisitions such as Sybase, Business Objects, SuccessFactors and Ariba. Granted these multi-billion dollar acquisitions brought new mobility, business intelligence, talent management and e-commerce technology, however, they clearly also brought billions of annual sales to the SAP P&L.
The company's organic growth has been aided by a number of strategic partnerships and customer-centric programs. SAP manages 10 partnership categories (that include about 10,000 partners and their respective solutions): SAP-based outsourcing and cloud services providers; SAP Crystal solutions providers; SAP channel partners; SAP education partners; SAP language service partners; SAP OEM partners; SAP services partners; SAP software solution partners; SAP support partners; and SAP technology partners. Any SAP prospect or customer should clearly understand how these programs may add value to their SAP deployment and post-implementation operation. The highest echelon of partnership is the SAP product designation of an Endorsed Business Solution (EBS)—a validation that the partner fulfills an identified market need which SAP does not intend to pursue. Worldwide only 33 companies have been invited to be a part of the EBS, of which some of the more notable solutions include Oracle, Meridium, Questra and SPSS.
The business partner ecosystem allows participating members to tap into the combined expertise, experience, and insights of other industry leaders, often leading to partner collaboration and an increase in the enterprise software portfolio. This program is furthered through the SAP Community Network (SAP's professional social network for SAP customers, employees, partners and experts whereby advice and knowledge can be shared) which is over 2 million members strong. In addition to the Community Network, SAP also hosts and collaborates with independently run, not for profit user groups made up of SAP customers and partners. These user groups are designed to educate members, facilitate customer involvement, and influence SAP's strategy. These communities play an integral role in the SAP ecosystem, and show that having an impressive product is one thing, but having a tightly integrated community to help you leverage it is quite another.
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