SAP updates software for small businesses

Business One update has customizable interface, more intuitive features

SAP Monday released a new version of its Business One suite that features changes driven by feedback from its small-business customers.

The new version of the set of business management applications allows for faster installation and has more intuitive features, the company said. Business One now has a customizable interface that allows users to filter information, and tool tips have been added for better navigation, SAP said. Improvements have also been made to how a user works with attachments and accesses online help.

Another new function, called Copy Express, allows custom reports, queries, user and configuration settings to be copied from one place to another. The function is intended to reduce set-up times and deployment errors at customer sites, the company said.

Business One applications cover sales, finance, purchasing, inventory, and manufacturing and are aimed at small to medium-size businesses with 10 to 100 employees, said Astrid Poelchen, a company spokeswoman.

While SAP claims leadership in the small-to-medium size business market, the vast majority of its business comes from the upper end of the market, said David Bradshaw, principal analyst at Ovum.

According to information provided to analysts about a year ago, the company has about as many customers for mySAP All-in-one -- another of its enterprise resource management products -- as it does for Business One, Bradshaw said. The customer figures have likely not changed much over the last year, Bradshaw said.

"I think they've been modestly successful with smaller organizations, but there's an awful lot of competition," said Bradshaw, adding that Sage Software is a strong competitor.

Poelchen said SAP has integrated its XL Reporter function deeper into Business One. In January, SAP acquired the Norwegian software startup iLytix Systems AS, which made the reporting and budgeting tool.

Also new in the business suite is multilingual support for invoices, quotes and purchase orders. A new embedded dictionary can translate remarks and documents, the company said. Business One has 37 country-specific versions in 20 languages, soon to be expanded to 23 languages, Poelchen said.

Some businesses are already evaluating the new version of Business One, and it will be broadly released by the end of this month, Poelchen said. If users have a maintenance agreement with SAP, there is no charge for the upgrade, she said. The charge per user is $3,750.