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Business Integration

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Introduction

Due to the increase in competition within companies, managers and commercial analysts are adopting different strategies to curb commercial rivalry and outshine their competitors. Among these methods, Business Process Integration (BPI) has gained prominence as it has proved to be not only practicable, but also easier and faster to implement. BPI basically refers to the process of synchronizing the entire company’s internal operations together with those of its other divisions as well as its other trading partners by joining up incongruent systems in real-time. Due to the constant advances in technology, change in management is inevitable and it is at this particular point that Business Process Integration comes in handy. Business analysts and managers who aspire to be success in future must therefore seek and adopt strategies such as BPI which are executable. SAP plays a big role in aiding different companies to achieve their aspired goals and hence succeed in their endeavors. SAP is a German software company that is a renowned dealer in enterprise software that is used to run business operations and at the same time reinforces the customer relations. This document discus in detail how SAP helps businesses to flourish in a threefold manner: firstly, it makes a general overview of the company; it secondly surveys the distribution, adoption and implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) by SAP and finally it considers the critical issues that surround implementation of an ERP system.

Piece 1: A Brief Overview of SAP

As earlier mentioned, SAP is software company in Germany that is interested with the management of business operations as well as customer operations. Its headquarters are in Walldorf, Baben-Wurttemberg and other minor offices around the globe. SAP is leading the market in enterprise application software. The company was founded in June 1972 as System and Analysis Program Development by some former IBM engineers. It is the largest software company in the world and ranked third highest sole software provider (SAP 2012).

SAP operates in mainly four geographical regions: America which include the United States and Canada; APJ which includes Asia, Pacific and Japan; LAC which includes Latin America and Caribbean and EMEA which is composed of Europe, Middle East and Africa.APJ represents the great nations like Japan, Australia, Korea, India, New Zealand, Greater China and other Southeast Asian nations. Additionally, SAP operates in other 115 subsidiaries and has research and development facilities in the United States, India, Germany, Canada, Brazil, France, China, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Israel and Ireland (SAP 2012). Other than wasting energy while working on many fields, SAP mainly focuses on six different industrial sectors. These include discrete industries, process industries, consumer industries, financial services, public service and service industries.

Despite limiting itself to six major industry sectors, SAP offers not less than twenty five industry solution assortments for the large institutions. In addition it offers more than 550 micro-vertical resolutions for the average sizes and other small premises. In such kind of an operation, SAP is able to deliver its products and services to all its potential customers, something that heightens its prominence and efficiency (Woods, Roland, & Broady 2008). Delivery of quality products and services is undoubtedly one of the major reasons that SAP has managed to capture and sustain the loyalty of many customers which in turn has enabled it outshine its competitors. This follows the obvious notion that customers will always run for the best products and services with the most affordable prices (SearchSAP 2012).

SAP Community Network

This is the collection of the SAP partners, customers, employees and the influencers who collective share knowledge on JAVA, NET, SOA, ABAP, and other technologies (SAP 2012). This community mingles in roles such as consultation, business analysis and integration. Other topics that prompt interaction among this community include cloud computing, big data, practicable processes in businesses as well as plus analysts and dashboards. These and a range of other topics are tackled through blogs, exclusive downloads and code samples, discussion forums, technical library and training programs. The SAP community network is composed of not less than two million members who are representatives of a wide range of duties and businesses and territories all over the world, in 24 respective industries. This kind of a network is widely viewed as the most appropriate for a social networking in business (SAP 2012).

Organization

SAP strategically organizes its functional units across various for research and development needs, customer support, and field activities. Labs are primarily for the development of products whereas field institutions set in various nations across the globe are for field activities such as consulting, sales and marketing among many others. The head office located at the headquarters is responsible for the overall management of all the other institutions. Additionally, it is also expected to monitor all the engineering activities connected to company development. The company’s customers’ support which is also known as the Active Global Support (AGS) supports SAP customers worldwide.

SAP Products and Services

SAP offers a wide range of products and services. There are many products offered by this company but its products mainly focus on Enterprise Resource Management (ERP). As such, SAP’s major product is SAP ERP whose current version is SAP ERP 6.0. Other main products by this company include Government, Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions; performance management solutions, RFID and Duet which is offered in conjunction with Microsoft. In addition, SAP offers service-oriented architecture capabilities (SOA) in form of web services connected to its applications. Despite its products initially being designed for the Fortune 500 companies, SAP is currently targeting the small businesses as well as the medium sized enterprises (Word & Woods 2011).

SAP Cloud solutions is yet another product that enable businesses to run better. This means that the businesses will be much secure as well as get more cost effective.  SAP NetWeather Portal plays a significant role in the company’s user communication approach to heighten people’s productivity via inventive solutions. SAP Solutions for Public Sector empower the authorities to optimize the scarce resources in public administration while rendering responsive services. SAP Business Objects Analytic applications is another product by SAP. It confronts professionals across disciplines to deliver both context and insight that crucial for success today (SearchSAP 2012). SAP also provides Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions which manage structured and unstructured data as well as events that are used in data warehouses, Business Intelligence, analytics and Operations applications. Finally, SAP offers Customer Relationship Management which helps businesses to not only helps businesses address short term essentials but also minimize cost and heighten the decision making levels (Shields 2001).

Benefits Derived From Large Enterprise and Small/Medium Sized Businesses

It is indubitable that SAP has transformed many business premises through the supply of its products. This follows the notion that in the today’s fast growing business competition, managers are under more pressure to act faster and make more achievements, normally with fewer resources. It is for this particular reason that SAP products are designed to assist combat with these challenges through comprehensive functionality (Norris, Dunleavy, & Ballis 2000). From its end, SAP has benefited from the businesses it transacts with through various ways. To start with, large enterprises provide the largest market for the company’s products. Such are also sources of raw materials some of which are required by SAP to manufacture their products. Among other enterprises, IBM is the leading business enterprise that has been in the forefront to provide some of its technologies to the corporation.

The other set of institutions that benefit the company include the Small and medium-sized institutions (SMEs). These are companies whose turnovers fall below various limits. Despite this fact, SMEs are the most common type of companies in numerous economies and hence worth some attention by the already flourished corporations. The sole reason as to why SAP enters into business with such companies is because they often drive to innovation and competition in many sectors.

Piece 2: The impact of Internet Technology on the Delivery of ERP systems

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a software product by SAP. It is a business management software that enable companies to apply a system of incorporated applications to manage the business. Due to its uniqueness, it fuses all the facets of a process including manufacturing, development, sales and marketing. As such, ERP software consists of several enterprise software modules that a given company would purchase in align with their specific requirements and technical capacities. Each module concentrates with one area of the business such as marketing or product development. Since time in memorial, Information technology have had some impacts and actually transformed many sectors of businesses enterprises. This effect has also been felt in the delivery of ERP systems.

As earlier mentioned, ERP is a business management software. Bearing this in mind, it is obvious that its delivery will be much influenced by the growth information and communication technologies which are consequently driven improvements of computer hardware, microelectronics and software systems (Rashid, Hossain, & Patrick 2012).

The development of the internet has had a significant impact on all the aspects of information technology sector including the ERP systems getting more internet-enabled. This system of accessing system resources from anywhere has enabled ERP vendors to expand their legacy ERP systems to include newer exterior business components such as Sales Force Automation (SFA), supply chain management, advanced planning and scheduling (APS), customer relations management, e-business capacities and business intelligence. Indeed, ERP is becoming the e-business stamina for companies doing the transactions online over the internet.

Internet-oriented institutions are designed to improve customer satisfaction, extend distribution channels, boost sales and marketing opportunities, and provide more efficient payment and billing methods. This consequently facilitates effective tri-party interactions between the customers, suppliers and the company itself. Successful management of the supply chain permits a business to deliver the appropriate products to the buyers. This enables the company to anticipate demand and distribute the right products at the right time and place as well as at the lowest cost possible to satisfy the wants of its esteemed customers.

Adoption of the e-commerce is a channel of future extension of the long-established ERP systems of many small, average and large vendors. This will in turn facilitate interactions between the suppliers, customers and organizations to take place instantly in less time and cost effectively. Due to the adoption of various information communications technological by SAP and integrating it with ERP systems, avenues such as cloud computing, the tri-party interactions have become cheaper, fast and efficient. Cloud computing refers to the technological use of central remote servers and the internet to preserve data and applications. This service permits businesses and consumers to use applications without any installation and access their files at any computer that can access the internet (Cleveland & Khannan 2012).

Software as a service (SaaS) is yet another software distribution form in which the service provider or the vendor hosts applications and later avails them to the customers through a network which is normally the internet. ERP systems have adopted SaaS due to the advantages that are associated with it. To start with, the SaaS model facilitates easier teamwork and administration, compatibility where all the users have the same software version, and automated updates as well as patch management. In addition, this model facilitates global accessibility which is undoubtedly the major feature that customers search for (Search Cloud Computing 2012). Finally, Active Server Pages abbreviated as ASP was the very first Microsoft’s server-side script engine that was used to dynamically generate web pages. It was a special tool that was used as an add-on to offer internet information services. From the above account, it can be inferred that both SaaS and ASP were designed to facilitate cloud computing.

Piece 3: Examples of businesses that sell on-line to retail customers

There are many companies that sell their products online but this document will mainly consider Swreg and Nissan. Swereg Inc is a company in the United States that that is inclined to payment processing and particularly serving service and software publishers. The company’s products provide shareware and software authors both of which are methods that are used in selling products online. Swreg offers a number of alternatives in which payment can be made, flexibility, customization and distribution into the global markets. Their online payment strategy allows its clients to use Eurocards, VISA, Mastercards, JCB, Solo, Delta, American Express, Diner’s club, Discover, International Money Orders, Paypal, Bank wires and Personal Check.

The other company that has adopted online marketing for the selling of its products is Nissan. This is an automotive company that sells cars and its other products to customers online. It connects the clients with their retailers who are in different parts of the world. The activities they carry out online include advertising their products, communicating with the clients and showing their products to the clients. Payment is also done online. Dell is yet another company that has been so successful in online marketing. It is a global company in America that deals with computer technology. It does not only develop, but it also develops and supports computers and other products that are related to the computers. The success of this company is attributed to online marketing.  

Piece 4: Issues that surround implementation of an ERP system

Despite the major benefits of implementing ERP systems, there are great changes that are brought about after the implementation of the system and they need to be effectively catered for in order to reap the potential benefits of the system. Though the issues may sound minor, they are so critical that if no attention is taken, they can seriously maim the business. Firstly, the system demands top management commitment. The implementation process is not just a matter of replacing the software systems, instead it involves repositioning and changing the business practices. Following the huge impacts on the competitive advantage of the business, the management has to consider the potential implications of implementing the system. The management must therefore ask itself several questions and adequately plan for the ERP system implementation not to hurt the business.

The second issue is reengineering. Implementation of the ERP system involves absolute renovation of the existing company processes. All the business processes must be in align with the ERP model which can increase the benefits as well as the costs of the ERP model. This is normally practicable if the business wishes to roll out the system around the globe. Despite this fact, it is not always so easy to convince everyone to accept the model. At times, business processes are quite unique that they have to be preserved and the appropriate steps to be taken which will customize those steps. It is important to note that whenever a company customizes the software in order to fit its needs, the cost of implementation is likely to rise. As such, companies should try maintain their systems as possible, if they are not completely replacing them, in order to evade future upgrade and maintenance expenses as well as reduce customization cost.

Integration is the third issue. Many organizations have the feeling that adopting a single vendor means having a common view which will be necessary for serving customers and system maintenance in future. It is however very difficult to operate with a single system and hence other software have to be bolted with the ERP software. This is where the problem arises as some software is not compatible with the ERP software (Auerbach Publications Inc 2012). Finally, it is so challenging to train and update the employees on ERP. This has one of the major hidden costs of working with the system. If no proper training is done, approximately 30 to 40 percent of the leading employees will not be in a position to handle the demands of the system. Though it is possible to train the workers within a short period of time, it is extremely difficult to constantly transfer knowledge to them especially if the workers have inadequate computer skills or are computer phobic.

Piece 5: My ERPSim experience

During my group’s participation in the ERPSim game, I gained some experience which will undoubtedly have a great impact in my future endeavors. To start with, the aim of the game was to enhance profitable distribution of water in Germany. Since the aim was to cut the cost for providing water and hence maximize the profits, the group adopted a strategy that would reduce the cost of supplying clean piped water to homes. The strategy started by creating an online shopping of all the plumbing materials that would be required.

This encompassed visiting websites of the renowned plumbing corporations and buying their products online. After carrying out the entire transaction, delivery of the materials would be done by the company or the group would be directed to a nearby retailer who would supply the goods. This strategy aided in saving time, energy and resources. The reasons as to why the strategy was a success is because it saved money that would have otherwise been used in search of plumbing materials, hiring of professionals would be online and there was of course reduction of cost of the materials as compared to when middle men would be involved.

Conclusion

As observed above, increase in competition within organizations has prompted top managers and commercial analysts to adopt different strategic management techniques that will enable them succeed in future and outshine their competitors. Due to the inevitable impacts posed by the growth and development of information technologies, many enterprises are adopting advanced technologies to boost their sales and marketing. SAP is undoubtedly the world’s leading software company which has transformed many businesses through its products and mainly the ERP systems. There are some advantages and disadvantages of this system all of which have been discussed above. 

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