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I can tell you that SAP Business One is like a ….

I can tell you that SAP Business One is like a 1989 Skoda Estelle

SAP Business One Business Software“I can tell you that… product X” is a formula I have seen in use in several different languages, in different countries across Europe. When I hear it, alarm bells go off in my head immediately.

The “I can tell you that” formula is a strong one: It makes opinion look like unchallenged fact. This aids in disguising the truth or in helping the listener focus their attention on the general statement rather on specifics which may be best kept obscure.

Why is this relevant for a Microsoft Dynamics blog? Here’s why: Recently I did some mystery shopping. To be more precise, I made enquiries at the website of a company which had published a comparison table between Microsoft Navision (the old name for Dynamics NAV) and SAP Business One. The comparison looked very favourable to the SAP Business One product and ranked highly in Google search.

I used the online chat and asked questions about the product and its business intelligence tools. Soon enough the chat operator offered this insight:

Operator: I can tell you that SAP solutions are used by 80% of the fortune 500.

Me: I’m not sure I understand. On the page I found you, it says SAP Business One is suited for 5-500 workers. If it’s used by fortune 500 companies, I don’t know if there are many such companies like that on the list?

Operator: You are correct. I was talking about SAP generally.

According to prospective customers and other mystery shoppers, this seems a normal statement from SAP sales. There is a shift from how SAP products for enterprise market are strong to how the Business One product performs well for the SME market segment – as if they were the same thing. This deserves some additional analysis and maybe a caveat emptor somewhere.

It is no secret that SAP Business One was not written by SAP. It was an existing product, renamed following the acquisition of  TopManage Financial Systems in 2002.

At the time of writing this blog, there is not a straightforward way to convert or upgrade from SAP Business One to any of the other more advanced solutions sold by SAP to the enterprise market. They are different products, related only by the name and ownership. If you want to upgrade, you’re dropping the old, then buying and learning the new.

In this context, how relevant is it to the small company ERP buyer that Fortune 500 companies use unrelated SAP products?

The product roadmap for SAP Business One can be found easily and it compares well to the features list for Dynamics NAV 4.0. Yes, you read that right: Some developments that as of 2012 are to be delivered in the future of SAP Business One match what was introduced in the 1994 release of Dynamics NAV.

Is it now clearer why the chat operator can tell you that his products are used by Fortune 500 companies?

Following the good old internet forum traditions, here’s a car analogy:

My father in law drives a Skoda 125L (sold in the UK as Skoda Estelle). This car model was first produced in 1976 and was in production until 1990. I drove it a couple of years ago. The 125L has RWD, engine in the back and the luggage compartment in the front, under the bonnet – like the Porsche 911 but with the weight distribution, build quality, performance and looks all wrong.

When I took it to the motorway at 60 mph the weight of the passengers made the steering feel worryingly light. I reduced speed to 50mph and suffered the wrath of all the Slovak drivers who no longer drive 20 year old Skodas. Never again.

Now, as we know, Skoda was acquired by the VW group in 2000. Would my father in law therefore state:

My Skoda 125 is as good as the other cars of the VW group.


No. However:

I can tell you that Skoda is part of the VW group, which produces very reliable cars and is a market leader in many developed countries.

Sounds credible. Caveat emptor.

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*Image from Wikimedia

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About Christo van Zyl

Christo van Zyl is the Managed IT Services Business Unit Director at Advantage Business Systems. Christo has over 14 years of working within the IT industry and specialises in Outsourced IT Services including support, consultancy, security and all things Microsoft Server side.

View all posts by Christo van Zyl →

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  1. Ana MassottMarch 13, 2013 at 11:56 pmReply

    Interesting post and interesting that moving from SAP business 1 to the other SAP products requires a whole new replacement. I guess thats why it pays to use a solution thats got a easy to use look and feel as NAV has. Its a good comparrison between the two products and i agree with your comment aove, SAP looks great compared to features of NAV version 4 but come on, NAV has moved on since then and is a real game changer.

  2. feedbackNovember 14, 2013 at 3:44 amReply

    You should check out Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 in action. No way that rebadged Israel software can compete with modern technology.

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