Public vs Private
Where the Public Version is a ready-to-run ERP that delivers the latest industry best practices and continuous innovations as well as preconfigured processes that are ready to go, the Private Version is a tailored-to-fit solution that adapts to the organisation's unique transformation and meets specific business needs.
Who to target?
Usually, smaller businesses tend to get the Public Edition so they can use the preconfigured processes ordered by SAP. One of the main advantages of this solution is the implementation timing. SAP mentions around 30 days for the delivery of the initial scope, resulting in low implementation costs.
Nevertheless, existing SAP customers wishing to benefit from cloud advantages without a complete overhaul of their current solution, will often go for the Private Edition. Additionally, new customers with substantial ERP requirements will choose Private over Public, despite the effectively higher implementation time and costs.
Insights from a conversion project
Over the past few months, we have been working on a conversion project, transitioning from a Public Edition system towards the Private Edition. Due to the specific business needs and gaps from the customer, which could not be fulfilled with the Public Edition, we decided to switch to the Private version. By migrating we were able to unlock greater flexibility, empowering customers to configure and optimise various business processes according to their unique needs.
When undertaking a conversion project, one of the key differences lies in the customising aspect. Specifically, the Private Edition offers the well-known IMG access, which is very different from the Manage your Solutions app and the CBC used in the Public Edition. Private Edition also gives you access to the backend SAP GUI, which has been utilised for years.
In my opinion, the IMG path provides a much clearer view to find out what is needed, while the other app provides a more friendly user experience with a specific indication of the status of the customising point ("open", "confirmed" or "action required") and its importance ("mandatory", "optional" or "recommended"). Additionally, the SAP GUI, accessed through the IMG path, is much faster and more responsive compared to the one used by the Public Edition.
In terms of day-to-day work and user experience, there is little difference between Public and Private as the FIORI interface is used in both solutions (though users of the Private Edition can benefit from the SAP GUI if needed/wanted). The speed and responsiveness of the interface is pretty much the same.
Note that the Public Edition offers built-in support for its users with relevant documentation and knowledge content based on the current app. You can also report your issues directly to SAP Support. All of which is not available in the Private Edition.
Moreover, SAP prioritises keeping the Public Edition up to date with continuous update releases that bring new functionalities. This can lead to frustration as desired functionalities may only become available in future releases, requiring workarounds or alternative solutions in the interim.
From a functional consultant's perspective, the private environment offers a more straightforward experience, especially for those accustomed to using the GUI for configuration and problem-solving tasks. You can directly access SE16N, SP01, SMQ2, NACE, SPAD and other useful transactions in the Private Edition. Access to debugging is of course also a major difference, while it can be viewed as a more conventional approach.
The Public Edition offers new ways of setting things up. Printer-related transactions are a good example of how things have improved in the public environment. For instance, it now works with apps like Printer Queues and SAP Cloud Print Manager, resulting in more streamlined operations.
To conclude, I cannot recommend one over the other as they both target different audiences and contain many differences depending on your needs. A deep analysis of your business requirements will ultimately guide you toward the right edition for you.