SAP is a worldwide business software company that offers a wide array of technologies for automating processes. That said, very few of these technologies are made with small business accounting in mind. In fact, SAP doesn’t even refer to the few small business finance software options they offer as accounting software in the first place. SAP calls their accounting software options ERP—or enterprise resource planning—systems. However, for the remainder of this review, we’ll refer to the ERP systems that SAP offers to small businesses as SAP accounting software—for clarity’s sake.
Below, we’ll discuss the three best SAP accounting software options for small businesses.
SAP features endless iterations of their software offerings; however, most of these options are suited for much larger, enterprise-level businesses. In this SAP review, we’ll focus on three options that are most closely suited for small business use.
Let’s break down the details on these three SAP small business accounting software options.
SAP Business One is the most basic of the SAP accounting software options, but don’t be fooled—this is still an incredibly comprehensive solution. Beyond accounting management, SAP Business One also offers sales and customer management, purchasing and inventory control, analytics and reporting, and more.
In terms of accounting features, SAP Business One automates all of your key accounting tasks, manages cash flow, controls budgets, processes transactions through multiple methods, and allows you to create standard and custom reports from real-time data.
SAP’s software can be deployed on-premise or through the cloud and is also mobile-optimized. Additionally, you can take advantage of the over 500 add-ons to get even more from your SAP accounting software.
To be able to access SAP Business One, though, you’ll need to go through an SAP channel partner to do so. As a result of this channel partner structure, there’s no overarching pricing for this SAP accounting software option. You’ll need to contact one of these partners to get an idea of how much SAP Business One would cost for your business.
SAP Business ByDesign is another iteration on SAP accounting software that might work for your business. SAP Business ByDesign works much like a leveled-up version of SAP Business One. SAP describes it as best-suited for fast-growing mid-market businesses looking to scale.
With this cloud-based solution, you’ll be able to access similar functions as Business One, but you’ll also gain human resources, project management, procurement, and supply chain management. This includes capabilities such as payroll, time and attendance management, and industry-specific functionality.
SAP Business ByDesign also enables businesses to easily expand to new markets with tax, currency, and language capabilities for more than 130 countries.
SAP Business ByDesign is available as a monthly subscription, based on a base package, user types, and number of users. However, you’ll have to contact SAP directly for a quote.
One last SAP accounting solution for small businesses to consider is the SAP S/4HANA software. With either cloud-based or on-premise options, this software uses artificial intelligence to streamline your business processes.
On top of all of the capabilities that SAP Business ByDesign offers, SAP S/4HANA software also offers elevated processes like enterprise portfolio management, project management, and sales and marketing insights.
You can test-drive this system with a 14-day free trial; however, if you like the product and want to make it a permanent part of your business, you’ll have to contact the SAP team directly for a quote.
Understanding the features of a particular business software is only one part of the equation when you’re deciding what’s best for your business. Another major consideration is the cost.
As we touched on in each of the SAP accounting software plan overviews above, pricing for SAP products is quote-based.
For SAP Business One, your price will be based on several factors, including number of users; setup for single or multiple sites, countries, or warehouses; cloud or on-premise deployment; which modules you plan on using; and the level of customization you need.
For SAP Business ByDesign, specifically, you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee based on a base package, user types, and number of users.
Getting in touch with an SAP channel partner will help you get a better grasp of how much this software will cost for your business. You can also request demos of these SAP products to learn more.
With this overview in mind, let’s take a more granular look at where SAP accounting software stands out—and where it falls short.
To start, here are the advantages of choosing one of the SAP small business accounting software plans.
SAP is made with growth in mind, so if you’re looking to scale your business quickly and significantly, not only can SAP software help you do so efficiently, but you also don’t need to worry about outgrowing the system.
In fact, the more features you’re looking to get out of this software, the better an option it is for you. For businesses looking to only handle their accounting tasks, on the other hand, this is likely not the best choice.
Both SAP Business One and S/4HANA can be deployed through the cloud or on-premise, so you can access your system in whatever method works best for you. Additionally, SAP also offers a mobile app, giving you the freedom to manage your business operations, pull up data, or view reports from wherever you are.
Of course, Business ByDesign is only a cloud-based system; however, this is the preferred method for many business owners, since it can travel with you on any internet-enabled device.
While there are advantages of SAP accounting software, there are also some disadvantages to keep in mind, including:
Any product that operates on a quote-based pricing model is less than ideal for a number of reasons. Not only does it make it harder to compare to other options without having this information up front, but there’s also no way of knowing that the price you’re quoted is in line with what another, similar business with the same needs is quoted.
For this reason, we prefer companies that offer transparent pricing. That way, you know you’re getting the same price as any other business.
As we’ve discussed throughout, SAP offers enterprise-level solutions. If you’re looking for a simple accounting solution geared toward small businesses, this isn’t it.
For most small business owners, SAP simply offers too many features. Especially if you’re only looking to handle your day-to-day accounting tasks, you likely don’t need a product that also manages inventory, purchasing, supply chain, IT, and more.
Now that you’re familiar with the most small-business-friendly SAP accounting software options, it’s time to address some questions that often come up surrounding these systems. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about SAP systems:
SAP calls the software options they offer for business accounting ERP systems because these systems offer features beyond the traditional accounting features. SAP systems will offer inventory management, customer relationship management, and marketing insights. As we mentioned, ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, so this umbrella term more successfully encompasses all of the features that SAP software options tend to offer. That said, SAP systems will serve the same purpose as a standard accounting software system—however, you’ll also be receiving much more beyond simple accounting functionality.
Each of the three versions of SAP accounting software we’ve featured works differently from each other in practice. These three options offer varying features that will serve a broader and broader scope of your business operations—depending on how much you’re willing to pay.
You will, however, need to access SAP business software through a channel partner, no matter which you opt for. These partners will help answer your questions and give you a better idea of which of these SAP accounting software options would be the right balance of cost and capability for your business.
Depending on which plan you choose, you may also have the choice between a cloud-based or on-premise system (with the exception of Business ByDesign, which is only cloud-based).
Many business owners will have questions regarding where exactly they would be able to purchase SAP accounting systems. Again, this will be a question that’s answered by SAP’s channel partner system. They have a database that you can filter through based on which SAP system you want and where your business is located.
If SAP systems seem like more than your small business needs, then you should consider other business accounting software options. The following business accounting software options offer a solid lineup of features—with more transparent, affordable price tags.
Even if you think SAP is the solution for you, we still encourage you to explore your other options to compare features and costs so you can be sure you’re making the best decision for your business.
QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular small business accounting software options on the market.
A powerful, cloud-based accounting system, QuickBooks Online is geared toward small business and offers four different plans—all with upfront pricing. The four versions of QuickBooks Online—Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced—are priced at $25 per month, $50 per month, $80 per month, and $180 per month, respectively.
All QuickBooks Online plans give you the ability to track income and expenses, capture and organize receipts, maximize tax deductions, invoice and accept payments, track mileage, run general reports, send estimates, track sales and sales tax, and manage 1099 contractors. With each higher-level plan you choose, the more features you’ll receive, such as more users, inventory tracking, and a dedicated account manager.
QuickBooks is beloved in the small business community as an easy-to-use, full-service accounting solution, so this option should definitely be on your radar.
For another SAP alternative, consider Zoho Books, a web-based accounting software solution with three plans and multiple add-on options. Zoho Books is also known as one of the most affordable options on the market, with their highest-level plan costing just $29 per month.
With a Zoho Books plan, you can manage your business’s invoices, estimates, time and project tracking, expense tracking, banking, reporting, taxes, and more.
Another aspect that makes Zoho Books a viable SAP competitor is that if you’re looking for more than just accounting features, Zoho can meet those needs. Zoho Books is part of the Zoho One suite, which includes several business management tools, including CRM, HR, IT, sales and marketing, and more. While these other tools will come at an added cost, you can build a custom solution to fit your business’s unique needs—likely for much less than an SAP solution.
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at SAP accounting software options, you’ve likely reached the conclusion that these are not the most small-business-friendly options on the market.
SAP doesn’t cater to small businesses specifically, although they do designate the above solutions for small and midsize enterprises—however, the keyword here is enterprises. SAP products are best-suited for fast-growing companies that are looking to scale quickly and need to automate and streamline as many of their business operations as possible. This level of automation and the scope of features SAP provides will also come at a cost. While no pricing specifics are listed on their website, you can bet that you’ll pay a premium for this type of full-service solution.
Therefore, if your business is a smaller-scale operation or you’re looking for accounting tools only, you’ll be better served with another accounting software solution, such as one of the alternatives above.
Of course, if you want to learn more about SAP before making a decision, reach out to their team for a demo or free trial (if you’re interested in the S/4HANA plan) to get a firsthand look at how this platform could work for your business.
Christine Aebischer is an editor at Fundera.
Prior to Fundera, Christine was an editor at the financial planning startup LearnVest and its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. There she wrote and edited on topics such as debt, budgeting, insurance, taxes, investing, and retirement. She has written for print and online on topics ranging from personal finance to luxury real estate.