Information Week Feature on Convergent: “SAP Simple Finance: Gateway for The Little Guy”
Originally featured on Information Week.
SAP Simple Finance is the software giant’s answer for customers who aren’t huge.
Shaun Syvertsen grabbed his company, ConvergentIS, and made a mighty leap. How big a leap, you ask? They moved their financial systems to SAP -- from Quickbooks.
It's not a transition often made in one step, but Syvertsen credits SAP Simple Finance and SAP Fiori with making it possible.
When I spoke with Syvertsen, co-founder and managing partner of ConvergentIS, at Sapphire 2015, he admitted that the price of Simple Finance was a significant consideration -- a company can buy many, many licenses for Quickbooks for the price of a Simple Finance installation. He said, though, that the company made the decision to go with Simple Finance because it positions Convergent for significant growth.
Syvertsen pointed out that his company has grown from 10 employees to 30 in the last year. He anticipates similar growth in the next 12 months. He was looking for software that wouldn't become a limiting factor or require a jarring transition at a critical time. He felt that Simple Finance fulfilled both requirements.
ConvergentIS is a software and services company and SAP is a piece of the mobile platform that they sell to customers. When I asked him about this he admitted that there was an element of "eating what you cook" to the decision. I then asked him whether he felt SAP's software would have been the right decision if his company had no other relationship with the software vendor: He pointed to the growth allowed by Simple Finance and said that he felt they would have made the same choice regardless of other relationships.
Henner Schliebs, vice president for finance audience marketing and go-to-market at SAP Marketing, said that ConvergentIS is an extreme case for Simple Finance because of its size, but does represent one of the two core use-cases for the software. In a conversation at Sapphire 2015, Schliebs said that Simple Finance is intended to allow companies to gain access to financial tools and an introduction to the SAP ecosystem without requiring the investment in dollars, time, and human resources that a more complete ERP implementation represents.
Schliebs said that many of the companies implementing Simple Finance are smaller organizations, but that a number of large financial services firms have also installed the software as a first step into the SAP world. He said that fast implementation is frequently a major selling point to the larger organizations, with larger companies often coming in under 14 weeks for a complete deployment.
Syvertsen said that Simple Finance's ability to use other SAP tools has had a significant impact on the way that his company uses the software. SAP Fiori is a graphical user interface that allows employees who aren't developers to build processes and reports by moving "tiles" around an app builder window. Severest said that he has given Fiori access to many in his firm and sees them build custom apps to fit their workflow and process -- something, he said, he would never do with SAP's traditional CLI.
Schliebs demurred when asked whether Simple Finance is the "gateway" into the broader SAP world. He admitted, though, that migrating from Simple Finance to S/4HANA is designed to be possible in a well-defined process.
If not a gateway, perhaps an escalator...
By Curtis Franklin Jr. | Commentary