February 23, 2004 8:18 AM PST
SAP retools for midsize manufacturers
SAP has long catered its products to customers in various manufacturing sectors, from automotive to high tech, where its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and supply-chain management applications are designed to help manage everything from human resources to inventory. The Waldorf, Germany-based company also tailors versions of its software to meet the needs of customers working within specific vertical areas of manufacturing, such as industrial machinery or consumer-oriented packaged goods.
Now SAP is attempting to move its vertical markets strategy for manufacturing downstream, introducing scaled-down versions of its enterprise software designed specifically for smaller companies, or divisions of larger customers. The small and medium-size business arena has become a hotbed of activity for enterprise application makers over the last several years as spending among larger customers has slowed and competition in the sector has increased, specifically with the arrival of Microsoft and its customer relationship management (CRM) software for midsize companies.
SAP's new software packages, called Micro-Vertical Manufacturing Solutions, mirror the functionality of the company's products for larger manufacturers while offering faster installation and lower prices. The systems are meant for sale through the company's third-party distribution channel, the most common means of marketing products to companies in the small and midsize sector.
SAP's new midmarket lineup includes versions of some 180 of its various manufacturing packages, such as tools for industry sectors like fabricated metals, construction equipment and agricultural products. The company also created a fixed-price and guaranteed installation package named FastTrack, in partnership with N2 Consulting. Using FastTrack, SAP asserts that customers can finish software installation in roughly 16 weeks. In addition, SAP launched packages of applications aimed specifically at midsize manufacturers in Mexico and South Korea.
SAP also detailed a strategic relationship for the midmarket with manufacturing software specialist SoftBrands, under which the companies will bundle SoftBrands' Fourth Shift product with SAP's Business One package.