The SAP Business One product strategy – a word (or two) about AddOns

SAP Business One and complementary solutions are the building blocks a small business needs

Solutions are assembled from the core SAP Business One app and complementary solutions

The SAP Business One strategy has always been about providing a core application with a broad functional scope  and allowing the development of additional solutions that extend the functionality to meet a specific customer need or a specific industry requirement.

When you ae building a volume product, this makes sense in my humble opinion and allows for a rich ecosystem to develop around meeting specific customer, industry and even localised needs whilst maintaining a strong, robust and flexible core that is easier to maintain and easier to develop.

In all honesty this is not a strategy thats new or exclusive to SAP, most other ERP Vendors take the same approach, just the execution varies from vendor to vendor.

But I have a pet hate with this approach and it is around the way that SAP (and partners) talk about these solution extensions – we call them AddOns and in all honesty I have always hated that term as it implies that the developer “forgot” some functionality that has been added on – and in our case thats not the situation – it’s a deliberate product design and solution management decision.

So, I have started my own personal push to try to encourage the use of the expression Complementary Solutions because thats exactly what they are – a definition of the word complementary is – “Combining in such a way as to enhance or emphasize each other’s qualities” and thats exactly what these solutions do.

So maybe next time you are explaining the SAP Business One solution and you are talking about the these extensions that add additional functionality – try using the words “complementary solutions” instead of AddOns and explain how the solutions complement the core SAP Business One application.

I guarantee your potential customers will find it easier to understand why we have taken this approach.

 

PS Please don’t confuse complementary with complimentary (which in basic terms means free) unless of course your complementary solutions are complimentary.

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  • Joseph Guagenti

    Richard,

    I have enjoyed your writing and what you have done for the
    SAP B1 community. Your educational videos and insight are outstanding! Keep up
    the awesome job.

    But on the subject of add-ons being referred to as Complementary Solutions  does not properly define the functional role
    of an add-on.

    I see 2 main areas when developing functionality for SAP B1.

     

    SAP B1 Add-ons

    Add-ons extended the SAP B1 GUI client to add business logic,
    business processes, business flow etc to the SAP B1 GUI interface. All work is
    done inside SAP GUI forms and requires some user input or action inside of the
    SAP GUI to produce the desired function asked for by the client. So if I was to
    change the word Add-on to any other word I would change it to Plug-in. Many software
    venders use the word Plug-in to descried adding functionality to their base
    product.

     

    SAP B1 Services

    Services are standalone applications that communicate
    directly with SAP B1 without the need for interaction from a user. Some
    examples of a service would be:

    1. Connecting to a FTP/Website downloading the sales orders
    and then creating sales orders directly in SAP B1. At no time does the user
    need to manually retrieve the order on the website it just happens at some
    defined interval without a GUI.

    2. Let’s say you have an old system that is still use to
    create Items/Products or Bill of Materials (whatever) . To keep the 2 systems
    in sync without doing double entry we create a Item Sync Service. The user
    enters the items in the old system and clicks export items to flat file. The
    old system creates a file in a specific folder on the network.  The SAP B1 Item Sync Service is scanning this
    network folder and when there is a new file added it opens the file and creates/updates
    the SAP B1 Item Master data with the data in the file. After creating/updating
    the SAP B1 Item Master the file is moved to an archive folder for history.

    Now a  SAP B1 Add-on can
    operate without a SAP B1 Service and a SAP B1 Service can operate without a SAP
    B1 Add-on . But for us all SAP B1 Services have a SAP B1 Add-on component to
    them. We use the SAP B1 Add-on to configure, monitor and display the activity
    logs of the  SAP B1 Service. This allows
    a tighter integration with SAP B1 and a better interface to the SAP B1 Service.
    Now Integration and interface are two words we can all use help on.

     

    When you say Complementary Solutions
    I think more of Excel as a Complementary Solution to
    SAP and SAP as a Complementary Solution to
    Excel. These solutions/applications (There I go mudding the waters with solutions
    and applications) can run independent of each other but the data produced by
    the applications can be shared with each other. This is not to be confused with
    dependent
    applications. A dependent
    application for SAP would be a SQL server
    and Windows. You need the dependent
    application(s) in order to run a give application. 

    But with all this said at the end of the day you need to communicate
    with clients and others at their level of knowledge and educate them.  Translating will always be a BIG part of your  job. 
    From the client, to the sale person, to the implementation consultant,
    to the programmer, we do not use the same words to describe something. So
    depending on who you are talking with have your translation dictionary ready.

     

    Maybe Google need to add this to their translator :)

     

    Thank you again Richard for your work, ideas and commitment.

  • http://kb1pro.com/ Joseph Guagenti

    As a final thought on this:

    You can change the word Add-on to anything you like. But once you do your discovery or start your implementation and find they need a Add-on or whatever you call it. All the client hears is more money. The 1st words out of their mouth are. “The Sales person told me it could already do this” (or something like that). So I think telling the sale person to tell the client “SAP has a full line of compl’e'mentary solutions” is not a good idea?

    Sorry client the sales person said complementary not complimentary. I know what the sales person said. Now give me my complimentary solutions so i can run my business.

    Not all client are like this. Most of them understand the value SAP B1 brings to their business. But we are also talking about small companies and small budgets. So be upfront and define what base SAP B1 can and cannot do and the universal terms. Because a client may not know the definition of Add-on but they do know the definition of COST, MONEY and BOTTOM LINE. They do not like to hear !!SURPRISE!! your cost to implement SAP B1 just doubled… no sorry just tripled… no wait, wait quadrupled. All because time was not spent in discovery and understand the client’s goals and future needs.

  • Anonymous

    Richard,

    “AddOn”
    is sounding not so bad for me. May be it is because I’m not an English native
    speaker. In my opinion it sounds a little to “tiny”, if you look at some, let’s
    say, “partner solutions”. Such solutions are not adding only some more functionality;
    they are changing SAP Business One fundamentally.     

    I’m talking
    of extensions for production or for professional services. We are using in our
    It-group SAP Business One with 120 users. A dimension where b1 was never mend
    to be. Because of an “AddOn” we are able to, and we will be able to manage 200
    more users with no problem.

    This, I think,
    makes a little bit the difference to some of our competitors. As SAP Business One
    is concentrated on the core functionality of an ERP – System, there is enough
    space for very good and large extensions from real specialists in a specific industry.

    Call them whatever
    you want, they play an important role for SAP Business One 

    Regards,

    Christof

    http://www.sap-b1-blog.de