SEEBURGER BIS Review

Gives us the freedom to connect, via EDI, to whomever we want, when we want, and at the pace we want


What is our primary use case?

The reason that we bought the product was that we have a very robust healthcare inventory environment in SAP here at the university. That involves huge inventory, purchase orders with 300 lines, electronic invoices, 856s, 855s. We knew we were going to have to have some standalone EDI ability here. That was the main goal of getting it, which we very quickly accomplished.

How has it helped my organization?

Coming into the SAP implementation here, coming over from our legacy EDI product, at that time we had 12 EDI vendors. It took us 12 years to get those 12 vendors, due to the limitations of our legacy product. Now, there are many hundreds because of SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS). We easily have 300 vendors now.

Before, we were completely limited by the ability of our legacy system. Our ability to react has gone up 1,000 percent. What improved was the ability to bring on who we wanted when we wanted to at the pace we wanted to. Before, if our legacy software did not already have an EDI arrangement with the vendor, we couldn't do EDI with them. When we got this, we were off to the races. We were free to connect at will with whomever we wanted to. It gave us freedom.

When we brought in SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS), we had one hospital, back in 2009 or so. We bought another large hospital and we picked it right up. We put it right on. EDI wasn't even a factor. It added no complexity to bringing in that new hospital.

Certainly, the majority of all of the inventory transactions and all of our PunchOut Catalog for research areas on campus go through EDI. 

We use SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) EDI for invoicing for our pharmaceuticals, where they handle the invoicing and invoice approvals. We then bring the electronic invoices into SAP from there and they go to an automatic hold in SAP and then they're released. So we have been able to use SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) to provide big invoicing solutions. In fact, here at the university, just for pharmacy alone, we're probably bringing in over $40 million a year in electronic invoices through SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS). It's easily in the neighborhood of over $100 million when it comes to meds, surgery supplies, and healthcare.

While we use it for EDI, straight up, for electronic invoicing and PO communication and confirmations, it is flexible to where we can bring it in to accommodate specialty solutions for the university such as payments for pharmaceuticals.

What is most valuable?

Number one, the ease of integration of the SEEBURGER product into SAP was pretty seamless. There wasn't any trouble, there weren't any complexities.

SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) also allowed us to connect EDI vendors at will.

We use SRM here as well and it's required at our university that we use EDI for all of those, for that PunchOut functionality, so that we have full-blown automation with it, in and out; for the purchase order going out the door and getting the invoice in, etc. 

What it has really brought to us is the ease of connectivity to the outside world, to do B2B. No paper, everything is electronic.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's an extremely stable platform. It has no flakiness. We don't have to baby it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've been able to flex it where we needed to, to accommodate other silo systems, outside of our core component applications. It's about to be tested again when we get into this new P2P solution we're looking at. I've still got SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) on the table as part of that solution, so I would say that it's very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

When I log a ticket, they come back within half-an-hour to an hour, either by email or I'll get a call. I maybe have one ticket a year, if that. There haven't been many, but they've always been very responsive, and pretty quickly.

The response that we get and the knowledge of that individual that responds are high-quality. It's not like we get a phone call back from someone who's appeasing us until they can get the real guy to fix it. When we get a response back from support, it is an individual who understands the issue and provides the solution.

Service and support have been excellent from SEEBURGER. We haven't really needed to use the product for a whole lot of other things - and I'm sure it's totally capable of them. It's one of those products where it's doing a very powerful thing for us, but you just don't hear about it because we don't have a lot of issues with it, unless we have a server that does down. But that would be an internal problem. It wouldn't really be a SEEBURGER issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a legacy system called Enterprise Solutions, and it was a healthcare-specific procurement and inventory system that was born in the late 1980s. When we decided to go to SAP in the early 2000s, our legacy system was going to be sun-setted. We had to do something because our then-current product was dying. When we decided to go with SAP, it did not natively deliver the EDI functionality. We went and got SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS), we bolted the two together, and moved forward.

How was the initial setup?

One of our guys was a systems programmer coming into this. When we got SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS), it was clear that it was going to take more of a technical person. It does take a technically-rooted individual to operate it. It's not something for your everyday guy to do. For what it's doing for us, a dedicated resource is required. You have to put a real technical dude in there to run it.

Like anything new, there's a learning curve, but it wasn't that difficult. It just hasn't been hard.

Our deployment took about a week. We put it in and turned it on in a week, and that's including firing up the box and loading the software and getting our guy up to speed. The deployment was extremely quick, and because it does integrate so well with SAP that made it easier too.

The implementation strategy was that we knew we were going to go big-time EDI when we went with SAP. That was a real requirement for healthcare. They told us they do EDI, we asked a few people about them, and did a bid for it. They came with just an unbelievably great price. The university bought it, and they put us in a room with two guys from SEEBURGER and we figured out how to get it in, and it's been there ever since.

What about the implementation team?

We did have our implementation partners, who were helping us put in SAP at the time, from LSI Consulting, and they did help us with the SAP connections. We also had a couple of other consultants at the beginning.

What was our ROI?

We went from 12 EDI vendors to 300 in a very quick fashion. We have exceeded the estimated ROI with SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS).

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is cheap. In fact, when I saw the pricing, I thought, "Really? What's the catch?" But the functionality that we get out of it, for the price we pay, is great value.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We had IBM come in and do presentations. We had Sterling Commerce come in and do presentations. And we had a conversation with SEEBURGER. 

IBM came in here, they sent 15 guys and tried to sell us a solution that was doing 50 things that I did not want, did not need, did not care about. They didn't understand that, no matter how hard I tried to explain it to them. All they wanted to do was to tell you about how wonderful they were and how powerful this tool was that they wanted me to pay a million dollars for. 

Then, the second vendor, which was Sterling Commerce, toned it down some, but it was still a very potent tool. And the price was very high. 

I had specific requirements that I had to meet for EDI. When SEEBURGER showed up on the scene, they said, "Okay, we'll give you EDI, and check out this price." It was everything that we needed to get done, and even today it's still what we need. They didn't overkill it. They didn't try to sell me a whole bunch of stuff that I didn't need. They sold me the right functionality at the right time at the right price.

What other advice do I have?

The first thing I would say to anyone looking at a solution is to make sure you understand your requirements. That's where you have to start with any product solution. Then, make sure you buy what you need to accommodate your solution, but no more. Don't get caught up in the moment and the bells and whistles. Get what you need. For someone who is looking for a killer EDI solution, SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS), if you ask me, is hard to beat. 

We're not out there doing things like mobile data entry. We're not a power company or a telephone company that's doing billing from work out in the environment. We're not a cable installer sending the bill back to the company for the service he just performed. We're doing invoices from vendors. Natively, that's the root of where SEEBURGER grew from, and it's solid for us.

Regarding the SAP S4/HANA migration, at this point, we are planning on moving to S4 around the 2020 timeframe. We've been very much in a road-mapping process. We've got a number of large initiatives to complete. Right now we're on ECC 6, 7, 8. We're at the point where we cannot upgrade any farther. We're on the latest version of SAP we can go to without going to S4. The plan is to definitely go there in 2020.

We are also in the process of looking at a new P2P solution. We're going to replace our SRM incidence for a couple of reasons. SRM is just not doing what it really needs to be doing and we need a much prettier front-end shopping experience. It's another opportunity for us to look at our business processes too. With that, we're going to probably do a lot of the cXML stuff out the door, to vendors, through that product. However, I do still see the use of the EDI stuff for our hospital inventory solution. I don't see an end to that anytime soon. I still see SEEBURGER very much in the future with S4, here at the university.

We use it for its core native functionality right now. When we move into this new P2P solution that we're looking at, we will do whatever we can to utilize SEEBURGER functionality in that solution. We're at the cusp where we're about to run into a situation where we're going to ask more of SEEBURGER, but that's still in the planning stages.

With SEEBURGER, pretty much what we do is EDI. We don't do a whole lot of other things with it. We do all the standard stuff, 858s, 855s, 810s, 856s. And that's okay because it's doing its job it is doing it well.

In terms of users, we have our EDI guy and he pretty much lives and breathes this solution daily. Then there's the materials management team that handles procurement and inventory solutions for the university and is made up of two functional people and three technicals. We have a chief developer, an interface developer, and our EDI developer, who is our metadata guru guy. So we have three people here at the university who know how to keep the solution going on a daily basis.

Our instance is still very much on-prem. We've got servers in our own data center, the database is onsite. It's not in the cloud. Obviously, cloud solutions are the future, and one day we'll get there, but we still love on-prem here. We do have some cloud solutions, like SAP Ariba Contract Management, but we're not full-blown committed to cloud life yet.

We don't use the Landscape Manager. We'd be very much interested in finding out more about that.

We do plan to increase usage. We continuously add new EDI vendors. It's not uncommon that we get one a week and we do plan to involve this solution as much as possible with our P2P solution, going forward.

Computers are machines created by men. So anytime human beings are involved, every once in a while one of the lights is going to turn red. That's part of life. But as far as a scale of one to ten with SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) goes, I give them the ten. We're just not beating down the doors of the SEEBURGER folks saying, "Man, we got issues here." That just hasn't happened. If there was anything like that, that certainly would pull me off of that ten, but it hasn't happened. It does everything, and more, that we've asked it to do and at a very economical price.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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