Head office and smaller offices can now talk to each other with subsidiary integration from SAP Business One
Although the anatomies of multi-regional and multinational organisations differ considerably, the goal to get extremities working as one is not as elusive as companies might think. Organisations can achieve total subsidiary integration – and a central view of the business – without bringing in the big guns or breaking the budget.
So says Martin Robinson, business development manager at Bluekey Software Solutions, a local technology company specialising in the implementation of SAP Business One, the enterprise resource planning tool for small and mid-sized businesses.
“A lot of organisations with multi-territorial or multi-country footprints have given up on the idea of ever having an accurate, up-to-date view of their business. Even with a robust bells-and-whistles system at play at the hub, they don’t have accurate insight into what’s happening across the board because their remote or distributed bases are typically bogged down with inadequate or manual systems.
“Of course, the argument against rolling out a Large Enterprise system at subsidiary operations is easy to understand. Firstly, few businesses can justify the costs, and secondly it’s a case of overcomplicating simple processes that often lead to SME’s being overloaded in an effort to keep these systems updated.
“But, subsidiary integration and remote operations is not a pipedream. By leveraging SAP Business One which is geared for mid-tier enterprises and can be easily integrated with SAP’s Large Enterprise solution SAP R3 (Business Suite) companies can affordably roll-out ERP across the business without busting the bank,” says Robinson,. The strategy to have one ERP system across all business units and operations makes sense. SAP Business One can be integrated into SAP R3 with the use of B1iSN or alternatively suppliers and customers using SAP Business One can start streamlining processes such as creating a purchase order in one SAP Business One system and automatically having this post as a sales order in the other. This is just a small example of how SAP is leading the way with new and exiting technologies.
“There is also a misperception that SAP Business One is too small for a big business, which is not the case. The solution is highly scalable. We’ve got customers with just one user and others with close to 200 users,” he says.
Bluekey is working with a few local companies to implement what is affectionately known as “small SAP” at subsidiaries and remote divisions in order to integrate them with their head offices. Well-known companies like Bosch, MTU, AEL Mining Services and Checkpoint are already using the solution to run their subsidiaries.
“We’re pretty sure that more South African companies will follow suit as they branch out to other territories and look for a more assertive and effective way to have their finger on the pulse,” says Robinson.
According to him, SAP Business One is right-sized for South Africa-based concerns wanting to integrate subsidiaries and offices dispersed across Africa – regardless of how remote they are.
“The solution is localised for more than 40 countries but it has a small footprint in terms of total cost of ownership and end-user skills levels. It is highly-intuitive and user-friendly so users can be up and running with minimal effect on the daily running of the business.
“It’s also very quick to deploy and can be implemented ‘vanilla’ without configuration or third party applications. This dramatically reduces the complexity of the implementation and means that support is simplified. Best of all is that it has an almost plug-and-play integration to SAP Business Suite. Its high degree of configuration gives smaller subsidiaries the independence and flexibility they need, while affording head office with central oversight and control,” he says.
Although a product of the world’s foremost international ERP vendors, SAP Business One can be localised to so that it conforms to the legislative requirements of each country in which an organisation operates. It also offers multi-language and multi-currency support.
SAP Business One can run on site or be hosted in the cloud, overcoming the infrastructure limitations prevalent in much of Africa.
Operationally, it can be used to automate many of the key transactions between head offices and subsidiaries, and between subsidiaries. These include synchronising of master data between all corporate entities, distribution of logistics transactions between business partners, and central reporting, control and streamlining subsidiary financial positions.
SAP Business One can also be used to integrate business partners, even really small ones, to further reduce costs and to drive efficiencies across the supply chain.
“We are certainly seeing more and more of the bigger chains insisting that their suppliers’ systems are integrated with their own in order to automate, speed-up and streamline transactions. This is going to become a priority for mid-sized concerns as well,” adds Robinson.
He concludes: “Not only does the solution support all the necessary processes of smaller, remote operations, but it also provides head office with a real-time, centralised view of the entire business. It enables companies to be more efficient, operate optimally and be more competitive, regardless of their set-ups.”