As an ERP for SAP’s small business customers, SAP Business One (B1) doesn’t have the long list of features and modules that the big ERP suites possess. As such, B1 updates may not carry with them the grandeur of other SAP technologies. For B1 9.3, flashy new features weren’t the goal, instead the focus was on efficiency.
“There are a couple good things [in B1 9.3] in the background that are not so fashionable, but we worked to make it a little bit faster,” says Finn Backer, VP, SAP Business One, who spoke during the keynote session at the Biz.ONE conference in Anaheim, Calif. this week.
As an example, Backer estimates that saving documents will be 10-20 percent faster in B1 9.3 vs. 9.2. He also expects logging in and reaching the home page to be one-third faster. Overall, he says the SAP B1 team hopes those small time savers will add up to big gains across the customer base.
While one could spend hours listing the new fields and buttons that can be found in 9.3—which SAP did do in a Biz.ONE session on B1 9.3 updates—we’ll instead just look at some of the major highlights. To dig deeper, interested parties could always head over to ASUG’s new B1 community, ONE.Source.
Integrated Project Management and a New Hub for Reporting
Some of the more intriguing updates in B1 9.3 comes in the project management tool. In that, SAP offers a new field for project finishing dates—allowing for analytical comparisons to expected dates in the aggregate. Even more useful is the folding of B1’s timesheet report tool into the project management functionality. That means billable hours recorded in the timesheet can be directly tied to the project assignments.
For those B1 customers on HANA, SAP unveiled the Analytical Portal, which works as a curating space for important reports of both the Excel and Crystal varieties. Customers can now also view Excel reports inside the B1 Analytical Portal without needing to go outside the application and into Excel.
What’s Coming Next
Backer paraded out a series of product managers and developers working on the next innovations for B1, and that included an updated user interface that looked to be at least inspired by SAP Fiori design principles. After that, one developer demonstrated an upcoming B1 mobile application aimed at field service workers that will allow them to fulfill service orders, accept payment and even provide paper receipts via a small Bluetooth printer on the fly.
Looking even farther out, SAP showed off a chatbot for B1 that uses natural language search to help users find reports.
Finally, the more concrete--but still subject to change—roadmap includes patches for the recently released 9.3 version in 2018, and movement to SAP hosting the B1 cloud product. The next major release of B1 is expected in 2019, which is when the new user interface and field service app are expected to launch.
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