SAP’s Position on Non SAP Application Integration

Executive Summary

  • SAP’s has a specific story and position on integrating non-SAP systems to SAP.
  • SAP’s story is inconsistent with the reality of SAP integration.
  • SAP even has many integrations between its own products, with only the ERP system being “naturally integrated.”
  • We cover the cost estimation of various solution architectures.

Introduction to SAP to Non-SAP Integration

SAP and virtually anyone that makes money from SAP has an interesting perspective on the wisdom of using non-SAP systems along with SAP. This is the official story on SAP integration, which tends to differ greatly from the reality of SAP integration. You will learn about our analysis of this narrative.

SAP’s Story and Position on Integrating Non-SAP Systems to SAP

I believe I can represent SAP’s position on this topic accurately. Anyone who disagrees who works for SAP is free to correct my interpretation, but SAP has told me this on some occasions.

  • SAP’s Amazing Best Practices: SAP maintains a catalog of Best Practices that it then incorporates into its software. All of SAP’s software is based upon Best Practices and because SAP is so widely deployed it contains all Best Practices. I have an article which analyzes the best practices claims at this article. That is the first part of the argument.
  • Integration to Non-SAP Systems Must be Avoided: According to SAP, or apparently, virtually anyone who makes money on SAP, integration is so difficult that you should not integrate any non-SAP system to SAP. SAP will concede that some best of breed applications may be slightly better but any business benefit received from using a non-SAP system is immaterial because you will any business benefit will be overcome by such substantial integration costs. In cases where SAP does not have a solution, it makes more sense to wait until SAP brings out one. As stated, it is simply too risky to connect a non-SAP system to SAP.
  • Connecting Non-SAP Applications to SAP Comes with Legal Liabilities Due to Indirect Access: Furthermore, (and this is a recent addition) if you don’t buy all SAP applications, you face indirect access liabilities. Therefore you should be careful not to try to purchase non-SAP applications because it is so risky.

The Reality of Integration Versus the SAP Presentation

This is sort of the problem in enterprise software where it’s all about quota attainment, you can’t get an opinion or advice without getting a biased answer. But the problem with the viewpoints of SAP, SAP consulting companies, and independent SAP consultants is that there is no evidence that application integration is a worse trade-off than customization. Secondly, all of those that draw money from SAP overstate the degree of integration among SAP’s applications. In SAP APO, the integration harness called CIF has very high overhead, integration issues to not simply go away, as is implied in the SAP sales process.

Problems with SAP’s Integration Between Its Own Applications

I constantly receive complaints about the poor integration between SAP’s new acquired products like SuccessFactors, Concur, etc.. Outside of ERP, which is a multi-module system which is completely part of one database, all of SAP’s other applications required integration harnesses. Anyone can develop an integration harness, most vendors have some type of integration to ECC already.

Cost Estimation for Various Solution Architectures

My experience and time spent quantifying the costs of software as well as working on implementations is that the number one feature to look for in software is its actual inherent capabilities and how well it meets business requirements. For those that would tell me how horrible application integration is, unfortunately, I have done it myself. I have created integration harnesses from scratch as part of integration teams.

And I did not even get to use really good tools like Informatica. And secondly what you get out of SAP regarding integration between its applications is not much different than what other vendors offer regarding connecting to SAP.


There has been a tremendous amount of lying and false information about what is really going on behind the scenes with respect to SAP integration. Finally, this observation has come from the detailed study that frankly virtually none of the SAP entities I presented above have done themselves. Secondly, it comes from a point with no financial bias. SAP and SAP surrogates like Deloitte, IBM, etc.. cannot make that claim. SAP and their surrogates make their claims about integration not because they are true, but because it makes them the most money to do so. 

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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The Real Story on ERP

ERPThe Real Story Behind ERP: Separating Fiction From Reality

How This Book is Structured

This book combines a meta-analysis of all of the academic research on the benefits of ERP, coupled with on project experience.

ERP has had a remarkable impact on most companies that implemented it. Unplanned expenses for customization, failed implementations, integration, and applications to meet the business requirements that ERP could not–have added up to a higher Total Cost of Ownership for ERP were all unexpected, and account control, on the part of ERP vendors — is now a significant issue affecting IT performance.

Break the Bank for ERP?

Many companies that have broken the bank to implement ERP projects have seen their KPIs go down— but the question is why this is the case. Major consulting companies are some of the largest promoters of ERP systems, but given the massive profits they make on ERP implementations — can they be trusted to provide the real story on ERP? Probably not, however, written by the Managing Editor of SCM Focus, Shaun Snapp — an author with many years of experience with ERP system. A supply chain software expert and well known for providing authentic information on the topics he covers, you can trust this book to provide all the detail that no consulting firm will.

By reading this book you will:

  • Examine the high failure rates of ERP implementations.
  • Demystify the convincing arguments ERP vendors use to sell ERP.
  • See how ERP vendors take control of client accounts with ERP.
  • Understand why single-instance ERP is not typically feasible.
  • Calculate the total cost of ownership and return on investment for your ERP implementation.
  • Understand the alternatives to ERP.


  • Chapter 1: Introduction to ERP Software
  • Chapter 2: The History of ERP
  • Chapter 3: Logical Fallacies and the Logics Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 4: The Best Practice Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 5: The Integration Benefits Logic for ERP
  • Chapter 6: Analyzing The Logic Used to Sell ERP
  • Chapter 7: The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP
  • Chapter 8: ERP and the Problem with Institutional Decision Making
  • Chapter 9: How ERP Creates Redundant Systems
  • Chapter 10: How ERP Distracts Companies from Implementing Better Functionality
  • Chapter 11: Alternatives to ERP or Adjusting the Current ERP System
  • Chapter 12: Conclusion