By Tim Stevens While it has been fashionable to trash SAP ERP systems as expensive and hard to implement, a landmark IT study reveals that those using SAP are actually further ahead in many areas of implementation than companies deploying other ERP systems. Conducted by AMR Research Inc., Boston, the study covers 868 large and midsized companies in 13 market segments surveyed by phone and e-mail. In every category reported, SAP users were more likely to implement a given functionality than non-SAP ERP users. For instance, financial applications were implemented at a 94% rate for SAP users, compared with a 76% adoption rate for non-SAP users. The trend holds for applications such as purchasing (85% vs 76%), inventory management (81% vs 65%), and order fulfillment (87% vs 63%). Manufacturing applications were lowest of all implemented, but still SAP held the edge substantially at 69% vs 41%. In general, SAP users spend a higher percentage of total sales revenues for IT expenses than non-SAP users. For instance 20% of SAP users spend 5% of total revenues on IT compared with 12% of non-SAP users. Yet, non-SAP users are more prevalent at the highest spending levels, with 25% of non-SAP users spending over 10% of revenues on IT, compared with 18% of SAP users. Also, SAP users spend 17% of their IT budgets on applications, compared with 18% for all companies surveyed, debunking the myth that SAP eats up a disproportionate amount of overall IT expense. Not all news is positive, however, with SAP users spending slightly more for head count and services to support their SAP installations. Still SAP users will spend proportionately more on new development and advanced, high-ROI applications such as supply-chain management and e-commerce, owing to the strong implementation of the core ERP system, suggests AMR.