Odoo vs SAP Business One: what’s best for SMEs?

In the big showdown between ERP systems Odoo and SAP Business One, who comes out on top for the SME market?

If your business wants to improve its performance, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can be a solid investment.

However, it isn’t as simple as picking the most popular or buying whatever your competitors might be using. All ERP systems have their pros and cons, and one that works for a global organisation might not be a good fit for a more local SME. So you need to do your homework to find the best fit for your business—and unlock the return that your investment demands. 

Today we look at Odoo and SAP Business One to find out how they compare for SMEs. 

SAP Business One vs Odoo—at a glance. 

SAP has been around for years, which makes them the ‘name’ brand in ERP systems. Initially they were known for tailored solutions for larger enterprises, but with the introduction of SAP Business One (SAP B1) in 2002 they entered the SME market. 

SAP B1 offers SAP’s cheapest option and it’s been designed to allow for a quick deployment (see below), but it comes up short when it comes to ‘out-of-the-box’ features. Which is why it’s probably best suited to less complex manufacturing, at least initially. For more complex manufacturing processes, there’s a whole community of 3rd party resellers waiting for your business, all of whom have developed their own modules to fill SAP B1’s gaps. 

Odoo meanwhile is a relative newcomer to the market, but has been making impressive waves as it catches up to its competitors. Built around a modular structure, where each application handles one business function or process, its offering is a little bigger to start with, and more flexible, with users able to install these apps as and when needed.

Both can be installed on-site, as well as in the cloud.

Extensive applications vs quick deployment.

Both Odoo and SAP B1 are capable of handling whatever an SME can throw at them—but how they get there is vastly different. 

As we mentioned above, SAP B1 requires significantly more customisation to get those extra features to help your business. But the benefit is that, by itself, it’s quick to deploy.  

Odoo meanwhile might be slower, but it comes ready with an extensive (over 7,000) range of applications that can immediately start helping any SME improve its performance—and the company is continually adding to these apps. So while the two systems are fairly evenly matched when it comes to things like inventory management (including products and reporting), supply chain (including purchases) and manufacturing (including costing and reporting), Odoo continues to push beyond SAP B1 into areas like maintenance (including scheduling and request handling), QMS (quality control) and product lifecycle management (BOM and ECO management). 

The big cons

We’ve already covered how SAP is a little thin on the ground when it comes to its application offering—and we’d suggest this is its biggest problem, especially for SMEs who might not have the clout of larger corporations to spend money on customisations. 

Meanwhile, Odoo is a relatively new player in the game. Which means that, despite its lower price point which is better suited to SMEs, it’s still playing catch up with things like bug fixes and offering backwards compatibility (without coding, at least).

What’s the most popular?

We wouldn’t advise selecting an ERP on the basis of popularity, but it’s certainly interesting to see the figures behind these two options. 

SAP is the established system, being used globally in 190 countries and supporting businesses in 25 industries, across 37 languages, with 670 partners. 

Yet Odoo, despite having a smaller scope of global usage in around ‘only’ 120 countries, has around 2 million users (mostly made up of SMEs) and 730 partners. 

What’s the best for your SME?

There’s no escaping that SAP B1 has solid support from its huge organisation and its even bigger community of SAP developers, partners, consultants and trainers. The company has been the go-to choice for larger corporations for years. Of course, it can be costly—not only to buy and tailor to suit your business needs, but also to maintain. Still, if your business can afford it then it’s a great option to help you improve your business performance. 

However, because these heavy costs rule out SAP B1 as an option for many smaller SMEs, we’d argue that Odoo is the best choice for cost-conscious businesses looking for a solid ERP system to help them grow. 

Odoo’s modular, open source system is easy to understand and use, it’s free to get started—simply download the package and install—and it comes with a fantastic range of applications to help you create a solution just right for your business. If you can accept its limitations—simply owing to its shorter lifespan on the market—you’ll find it the perfect choice for any SME.