SAP

Subject: SAP
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <gfhayhoe -at- SCESCAPE -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 1996 10:28:01 -0400

Chris Tonjes asked about SAP in yesterday's digest.

SAP is actually the name of the German-based company which markets a
product it calls R/3, a modular client-server package (Oracle server,
Windows client--and also an X Windows client, I think) which provides
most of the software functionality a large corporation needs to run its
business (human resources, procurement, financial accounting, accounts
payable and receivable, customer order processing and fulfillment,
production scheduling, inventory management, fixed asset management and
maintenance, etc.).

Installation of this product is extremely complex, and at least several
of the big accounting firms have divisions or subsidiaries whose mission
is consulting with companies installing the SAP product. Because the
software must be extensively customized for each installation, the
documentation must also be customized--essentially written from
scratch--for each corporate customer of SAP.

The WinHelp files for the Windows client occupy more than 70 megabytes
on a CD-ROM; the Help source files--more than 1,000 of them, as I
recall--occupied more than 200 megs. THAT'S complex!

R/3 is currently very hot, and has been adopted by many large
corporations in Europe and North America, and elsewhere in the world. To
give you some idea of its quality, I understand that Microsoft has
adopted it rather than growing its own product in-house.

I recently worked on an R/3 implementation that proved to me exactly how
complex and challenging this product can be to the company which must
reengineer its business to fit the product, to the programmers who must
customize the software, and to the technical communicators who must
produce the documentation. I'd be happy to tell Chris or other
interested parties about my experiences offline. Suffice it to say here
that such products will ensure that we technical communicators have
plenty of business for the foreseeable future!

--George Hayhoe (gfhayhoe -at- scescape -dot- net)

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