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SAP CRM vs. (advantages, disadvantages, costs, ...)


I have created a few open discussions in the past, which I think are quite interesting, and I would like to add another one.

Introduction: I am currently in an assignment at a pharmaceutical company in Germany working on SAP CRM 7.0 and now the management has decided that they want to replace it with I think one reason is corporate politics as they are already using this software in other divisions. Concerning other reasons I am not sure.

Here is one of many articles about the CRM software market:

What do you think: What are the advantages and disadvantages of SAP CRM and What about the costs? Are SAP CRM liscenses and implementation costs really higher? Is growing faster than SAP CRM? Is it a serious threat to us?

Thomas Wagner

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    author's profile photo Former Member
    Former Member
    Posted on Jan 12, 2016 at 11:14 PM

    Hi Thomas and Everybody around,

    This is a really good and interesting post.

    I have been working with CRM solution since 1996. I have worked with Microsoft .Net Solutions, Siebel Applications,, SAP CRM , SAP C4C, SAP BCM, among others solutions. And I can tell you that before making any decision they are some key success factors that you need to consider.

    1.- Company Size (# of End user for your CRM solution, hundred? thousands?)

    2.- Scope (Sales? Marketing? Services?, Channels: Web?, Phone? Social?, integration with Back End systems for Finance, HR, Warehousing, Quality, etc. Reporting autonomy? and so on...

    3.- Define your current Pain Points, typically the one and first on top is: Usability.

    The CRM Paradigm begins with the Customer, you need to be sure that you improve the Customer Experience in order to grow as a company, that is your starting point.

    Then depending of the information that you can gather from these points you will start shopping for a solution that will attack all of then, of course within your budget, time, resources and your ROI target, being sure that your sales will increase and Customer and End Users will end happy!

    My suggestion is for a Small-Mid Size Company the first option would be SalesForce,com then MS Dynamics.

    Then for a large enterprise the first option would be the SAP Suites as a Solution, SAP CRM On premise on a hybrid environment with SAP C4C for Sales guys (also using the Mobile), and SAP ERP as back end. You can add Hybris, Successfactor, Social Engagement and Contact Center for a full solution. For companies that already have Oracle as a back end they probably will go with Siebel but will their eyes on

    Just keep in mind that technically everything is possible. Just be sure that Your Customer will get a better experience ....that is what CRM is for!

    Best Regards,


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  • Posted on Sep 19, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Hi Thomas,

    one thing that is important to have in mind when implementing an CRM system are the interfaces to the back-end system. At least the implementation projects I know of that tried to connect a third party CRM with an SAP ERP back-end spent a significant efforts in implementing this interfaces.

    While also the SAP CRM Middleware has some areas that are rather complex (e.g. contract replication in the utilities industry) it already takes care of a lot of possible error situations (queuing via qRFC, queues to ensure subsequent changes are processes in the correct order to name just a few). While it is possible to rebuild this functionality using e.g. some integration middleware its complexity is usually largely underestimated. I've been involved in implementation projects that ended up spending more in the implementation of the interface then the initial quote for the implementation of the SAP CRM system was!

    Besides the complexity of the integration of a technical level the difference in the process design is also a reason for the problems when integrating a third party CRM with an ERP back-end. Even basic processes usually differ slightly. This leads to three options. Change the process implementation in the CRM system, change the process implementation in the ERP system or solve the differences in the middleware. as the third options is usually the simplest one (at least in the short term), it'll be the one that is chosen. Finally you end up with business logic in the integration layer and making the implementation of new features as well as the support of the landscape really complicated and expensive.

    In summary, from my point of view the real cost of integrating a third party CRM with an ERP back-end are usually significantly underestimated, as the support of the landscape as well as teh complexity of building the integration layer are largely underestimated.



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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Mar 02, 2016 at 03:07 PM

    I just had a look at a demo system.

    My impression is that pricing is not that powerful (the client mentionned at the top will keep order management in SAP CRM for at least a while and will only use visit management - he espacially likes the digital signature with on tablets) and I was missing service and marketing.

    Otherwise it looks a lot like SAP CRM.

    Reporting at that client might eventually be donw with Qlikview which seems to be a more or less strong competitor of SAP Analytics.


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  • Posted on Sep 19, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    SAP CRM is really a big decision and your organisation must be focused on CRM and not just SAP. Where I think is for a company that knows CRM but is still a "baby" when it comes to the full solution or just thinks that CRM for them is just one part of the full picture.

    SAP itself is not marketing CRM that well anyway.



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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Aug 27, 2015 at 01:50 PM


    I´ve been working with SAP CRM from the past 10 years, and I followed up a prototype here in the company.

    At the end, here are the main points of satisfaction for

    1 - Customer Experience is better - User interface is really easy to use, and friendly, more than C4C, specially for reports

    2 - Customer Experience is better - The consulting company used agile, the functional/developer was side by side, raising the requirement, geting the agreement and implementing right away

    3 - Customer Experience is better - Reports what is the main piece of any CRM from the user point of view, is really powerful. No need to include something like Lumira in context, just the basics are really cool and powerful

    So, after the prototype, the customer, the user, had a smile on the face and said "that´s what I want".

    To delight the user, and getting emotional customer satisfaction is a must. Nowadays, anyone that doesn´t see and understand it, is from the past century.

    Thus, for consultants, I advise: change the mindset, change the behavior. Customer Experience, Customer Engagement is a matter of a process and delight customers and users. Agile process is an unstoppable force.

    From the SAP CRM, or looking forward, teh C4C, there are important pieces of course. Don´t use the speech of saying it´s easy to connect to ECC. The customer wants to see the "show me the money", and the smile will show up. TCO and ROI tools is something the CRM consultants need to understand and handle.

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  • Posted on Sep 19, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    It's actually a three horse race as Microsoft has it's Dynamics Solution which is just as complelling as Cloud for Customer, and The funny part is the Microsoft Solution is run by ex-SAP guys who were responsible for SAP CRM 7.0 launch 😉.

    If your business is going the route on as an emotional decision(not considering any other cloud soutions such as cloud for customer, dynamics, sugar crm, infor, etc), then you should make sure they are willing to pay for the full cost of integration. You are going to have to buy and build out all your integration back to ERP. Although there are some packages available, you still have a lot of work ahead. Make sure the business is willing to pay the full cost of systems integration introduced by using or another solution.

    The other issue is that you should strongly evalaute advanced analytic scenarios/business intelligence offered by the cloud solutions. I know we all hear HANA too much, but the new advanced customer intelligence applicatiosn that run on SAP HANA are beyond some of the cloud offerings from other vendors. SAP really shines in this aspect when you compare SAP CRM on HANA vs other solutions.

    IMHO regardless of how pretty the user interface is, or how mobile your system will be, you will still have the same fundamental business process issues regardless of the CRM system. When/if you migrate and all you do is replicate your old CRM processes into the new system it will be a recipe for failure.

    Take care,


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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Here we got additional information from an evaluation meeting where the SAP CRM-team lead of the customer took part.

    It seems that has problems with background mass processing and accepting the ECC as master for pricing information.

    On the other hand it seems to have a nice offline-functionality.


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  • author's profile photo Former Member
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    Posted on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    Firstly, this is great discussion. For the past two-three years SFDC and MS Dynamics CRM are seeing a lot of traction. I have personally seen few of our very large global clients moving away from SAP CRM for the same reasons you mentioned in the blog. Comparing SAP CRM with cloud based offerings like is like comparing apples and oranges. So we should stick to comparing C4C with the rest of the CRM Cloud solutions in the market.

    The following are the reasons I believe SAP is lagging in the CRM race today:

    a) Late mover disadvantage: SAP has been a late mover in the CRM cloud space. While SAP C4C has been picking up offlate, it is still half baked and we also need to remember that Salesforce has the first mover advantage. While many of us have been hearing for the past 5 years or so, it was really started in 1999. All they have done since then is to provide CRM cloud solutions (not anymore though). Today they are clearly a market leader for cloud based CRM and SAP C4C is perhaps a distant third or fourth or even fifth in terms of market position. In SAP's defense C4C offers a great value in terms of integration with SAP ECC and other on premise solutions. Perhaps, when the solution and the more standard iflows are offered SAP C4C will have a great value proposition creating a unique position for them in the market.

    b) Change in market trend: SAP CRM is undoubtedly a very robust and complete CRM solution. However, if we see the larger picture, there has been a significant shift toward adopting cloud solutions in the market especially for CRM LOB's.While CRM cloud solutions were more a phenomenon with small and mid size, that is no more the case. Even the large enterprises (Fortune 500's) have embraced cloud for CRM and other side applications like HR, SRM etc. This has been a game changer for since it was already enjoying the market leading position in the cloud space. Lot of larger organizations found success in integrating SFDC with their SAP ECC and in some cases Oracle ERP. This clearly explains the market increase for SFDC and stagnant growth for SAP CRM on premise. So the bottom line; this is more a change in market trend and SAP CRM cannot be isolated. The reason for the change in trend can perhaps be rationalized by the economics of IT in general than the sophistication each one has to offer. For example, for organizations with skimmed budgets have lesser risk to take the cloud route Vs implementing a complex solution on premise. Organizations have also been dealing with IT with a short term view due to uncertainty in markets at large.

    c) Ease of use and functionality: From my experience and user stories from my clients, it is evident SFDC is loved by sales users and considered to be more user friendly than SAP C4C and obviously SAP CRM OP. SFDC clearly wins the race with usability but I personally feel SAP C4C has great UI especially around ease of accesibility of information through out the processes. We will really have to see how it will be recieved by users going forward.

    Functionality per se Salesforce is much ahead in the game. Collaboration, ease of configuration and creating an community for salesforce practitioners has been fantastic. SAP on the other end is still crawling to create that eco system since it has not yet taken off in terms of sales/new licenses.

    I cannot agree with Stephen more. Especially, with new vs existing SAP CRM OP client logic he presented. That seems to be the norm of the day. Existing SAP CRM OP clients are moving toward Hybrid model and new clients are trying to leverage cloud as much as possible. Overall, as we have been hearing for years already, cloud is the path ahead.



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    • Former Member

      Hello All, Very interesting discussion. I wanted to add my POV on this topic.

      If we were to suggest an enterprise wide CRM strategy we need to look deeper especially in the current tumultuous situation in the CRM space. Five years ago in package evaluation exercises between Siebel, SAP CRM and SFDC where back end system was ECC, SAP CRM weighed better and was recommended. SAP CRM also suited over all IT strategy as SAP CRM solution fitted into Marketing, Sales, Service, interaction center, eCommerce and TPM areas. In a nut shell SAP CRM was a panaceas for all the problems enterprise had in CRM space. With due credit to SAP CRM it worked well for some years. Personally companies could have focused more on adoption and SAP on improving its UI, usability and performance.

      Over last 3 years internet speeds have grown 4 times, mobile device usage has grown leaps and bounce, traffic to amazon and ebay sites have grown multiple times. Sales users started using mobile devices more than laptops. They were looking for offline and non-vpn based access as they operated from airports, hotels and customer sites. A successful CRM solution for these user groups is one that needs zero training, a very intuitive solution that can provide needed information with least clicks, acceptable speed (NOT wheel of death), ease of personalization and easy to configure dashboards and reports. SAP CRM failed to capture this audience as it failed in all the areas above. SFDC filled in this GAP well. Though initially companies were skeptical about the cloud offering better solution, easy upgrades and system interoperability assurance worked out well for SFDC and customers bought into the concept. However SFDC has lot of work to do in pricing, variant configuration as well as sales contracts area as sales solution is not just creating customer, contact data and wafer thin opportunity transaction.

      On the other had companies implementing eCommerce solution for both B2B and B2C solution started expecting Amazon experience. B2B experience expectation was no less than B2C. This changed the game for SAP CRM. Packages like Hybris (Now an SAP company) and Oracle ATG matched customer expectation in this area.

      This still leaves with service, interaction center, pricing driven sales scenarios and TPM areas where SAP CRM still scores better than any of its competitors. I personally feel for an enterprise wide CRM strategy companies should look at hybrid model with SFDC or MS Dynamics for their simple sales and marketing solution, SAP CRM for their service, CIC, pricing driven sales scenarios and TPM scenarios and Hybris for their ecommerce solutions. This would mean complex CRM landscape for companies, issues with record of origin, duplication, higher licensing, implementation, integration and support costs and higher total cost of ownership. But I think it is still worth investing in this hybrid model rather than risking user adoption. C4C as well as fiori/UI 5 based apps for mobile solution have long way to go before they can challenge the big weights.

  • Posted on May 02, 2015 at 07:21 PM

    Why not consider also advice from Salesforce experts:

    An Expert Guide to Salesforce Integration: 22 Salesforce Experts Share The Biggest Mistakes Companies Make During A Sale…

    seems the grass is not necessarily always greener on the other site after all...

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  • Posted on May 22, 2015 at 02:19 PM

    Adding another piece of information & discussion: The brand new Forrester Wave "CRM Suites For Large Organizations, Q1 2015"

    The latest Forrester Wave for CRM looked at all the major CRM providers discussed here as well, and lists a lot of arguments for the different options.

    SAP CRM 7.0 was recognized for:

    • A well-rounded CRM supporting the end-to-end customer engagement experience
    • Large and broad set of industry-specific functionality
    • Very strong reporting and analytics tools
    • Strong marketing automation, customer service, and field service capabilities
    • A platform and architecture that is suitable for global deployment
    • Very strong application ownership experience and global strategy

    The full report is available through, go check it out.

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