If SAP CRM Adopters Could Turn Back Time

Study says adopters would do it all over again

Stories of failed or botched SAP implementations abound in IT circles, but a recent study from consultancy AMR Research says that the opposite seems to be the case for customers who adopt SAP’s mySAP CRM software stack.

AMR surveyed two dozen SAP CRM adopters and found that most have deployed SAP’s core CRM functionality in large, successful implementations. Survey respondents have deployed a range of mySAP CRM functionality, including sales, marketing, customer service, and field service, AMR says.

One not-so-surprising upshot of the AMR study is that mySAP CRM is typically deployed in support of a large number of users: the average total seat size among the 24 adopters surveyed was more than 1,000. SAP is, after all, typically deployed in very large accounts, and—what’s more—survey respondents cited mySAP’s integration with the German ERP giant’s R/3 enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite as one of that product’s strongest selling points.

What’s more, SAP was the sole vendor considered by more than 50 percent of customers—once again, thanks largely to its R/3 ERP suite. AMR found that SAP’s latest CRM release—mySAP CRM 4.0—has thus far seen relatively slow uptake among customers; nevertheless, a number of customers plan to upgrade to mySAP CRM 4.0 at some point in the future. When they do, these customers told AMR that they will probably increase their user counts by an average of 150 percent.

mySAP CRM still has a few shortcomings when compared to best-of-breed products from other vendors, but survey respondents told AMR that the integration and homogeneous architectural benefits of an all-SAP solution outweigh these functional gaps.

All’s not bliss, however. mySAP adopters cited a number of problems with SAP’s CRM tools, with usability topping the list. Some organizations experienced difficulty driving usage of mySAP CRM among particular user constituencies, particularly sales personnel. Other users had problems, in the form of lengthy data synchronization periods, running the disconnected mobile client with more than 1,000 users. In addition, several users had to extensively customize the mySAP quote management process, which led to cost overruns and upgrade difficulties. Finally, because of a dearth of mySAP CRM 4.0 user references, more than a few customers admitted to uncertainty about upgrading to the new software.

All things considered, AMR analyst Laura Preslan says, “SAP is a CRM force to be reckoned with as customers embrace SAP’s slow and steady development strategy.” More to the point, she says, mySAP CRM should be a default choice for users of SAP’s ERP software—unless they have esoteric requirements that these tools can’t easily meet. “When SAP is the incumbent ERP vendor, companies that are ready to invest in CRM should exhaust the possibility of using SAP’s CRM tools, especially for customer service, field service, order capture, and marketing, before looking elsewhere,” she writes. “For those customers interested only in basic Sales Force Automation … functionality—especially for a large, mobile sales force—a simpler, easier to use tool such as salesforce.com should be used to increase the user adoption rate.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.