Getting the ROI you deserve on your SAP procurement software depends on getting the right expert help
SAP is the leading procurement software vendor in the world. Not only does SAP Ariba hold the greatest market share for procurement software at 38.64% globally; SAP solutions like SAP Procurement & Strategic Sourcing, Ariba eProcurement, SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) and others also feature heavily in lists of the top twenty digital procurement solutions.
Companies using SAP have often had one or more of their supply chain management and procurement solutions for a number of years (which isn’t to say new companies aren’t coming to SAP every day). Add to this the complexity of SAP’s stable of ERP and procurement products, and you can see why many of their flagship products can get mixed reviews.
Finding out the real cause of SAP pain points
Like any complex system, SAP’s procurement solutions can end up needing additional tweaking long after their initial deployment. This is in addition to the fallout from errors made during the initial planning and set-up phase.
Also like any complex system, it’s difficult for non-experts to fully understand the potential problems and solutions – it’s common for customers to understand that they are unhappy with their SAP procurement deployment, but to be unable to pinpoint the cause or potential solution to their problem without expert help. Let’s take a look at some common pain points and how customers and some likely core causes.
Remember there are a lot of different ways SAP’s procurement solutions can be set up and integrated with other systems – often achieving the same end result. This means deployments can be very different from company to company, and it’s not always obvious where any problems are coming from until a skilled consultant has a look.
Sunset Products & Simplifying SAP’s Offerings
SAP’s supply chain management and procurement products have been around since the mid-1970s. There is an almost limitless number of configurations possible when it comes to how a given client might have their SAP systems set up and integrated.
Add to this the fact that many older SAP products are now classed as “sunset”, with a range of evolving end-of-maintenance dates that must be monitored and factored in to any planned system changes. Another important point to remember is that while a product may have several more years until the end of maintenance, often active, innovative development is focussed on newer products.
Products like SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SRM), SAP ECC, and the CI9 integration suite are transitioning from being separate software solutions that were frequently installed on-premise to being a part of SAP Ariba Cloud and/or S/4 Hana Sourcing and Procurement.
Ultimately, SAP plans for all its customer to end up running the newer set of flexibly deployed cloud applications. The SaaS approach has proved time and again to give customers better access to the services they need, and procurement is no exception.
Common SAP Procurement Pain Points
There are a few mistakes and worries many clients have about SAP’s procurement suite and what it can or should do. Luckily, it’s easy for the right experts to fix most of these – all whilst staying within budget.
Unhappy with the product itself: Many clients think their specific product choice is to blame for not getting the hoped-for ROI. In fact, if clients are unhappy, it is nearly always due to errors in how their system is set up and integrated. The second most common causes is inadequate staff training. Luckily, both these core causes are easily rectified by experts – often faster and more cheaply than you would think.
Concerned about the update cycle: SAP Ariba and related products are constantly being updated and upgraded. At the same time, a lot of big SAP procurement solutions are at the “sunset” stage, where they are going to be replaced by the latest consolidated versions of SAP Ariba, S/4 Hana, etc within the next few years.
Clients also worry about rolling updates for current cloud solutions, impending forced updates/upgrades due to their existing systems reaching the end of their lifecycle, or lack of updates for sunsetting products that are no longer in active development.
SapienceS2P can help plan and enact updates and upgrades of any size and type. We can also help deal with the types of problems that can arise when an update to SAP or third-paty software breaks some system or service your team relies on.
Worried about staff training costs and needs: Big, complex products like SAP’s various procurement solutions require a lot of careful staff training. This isn’t just time consuming and expensive – badly created and enacted training plans can be blamed for reducing an organisation’s ROI by quite a lot.
Whether you’re building a training strategy from scratch or just want to refresh your team’s knowledge, SapienceS2P can help. We set up and implement SAP training packages that can target team members directly, or educate core team members so they can lead training on SAP within your organisation.
Reduced, falling, or lower than expected ROI: There are many potential causes for this symptom as it can be difficult to separate out individual causes. Nonetheless, customers sometimes feel their SAP deployment isn’t performing as well as it should. Updates, new staff members, changes in how other applications and services function – all of these can affect ROI to various degrees. With expert help it’s easy to identify and resolve the causeses of falling ROI no matter what they are.
High or increasing employee workload: If employee workload is higher than the client company expected from their deployment, or their staff are having to do more things manually, it’s a sign of other, deeper problems. Integration issues, training problems, or things broken by an update can all lead to increased employee workload. A key sign of this is where staff are doing repetitive tasks by hand, or tasks are taking longer than they should. Speaking with the procurement team directly can help diagnose these faults.
Automation woes: If automation fails, employees are left to pick up the slack. If workers are spending large amounts of time on tasks that should be automatic, it can rapidly lead to falling ROI not just on the software, but the employees themselves. Updates and upgrades can break existing automation even in a brilliantly designed system. Likewise, changes to third-party software can cause a range of automation problems.
Unsure how to take advantage of the latest features from SAP without a major overhaul: With the right expert help, it’s easy to integrate the advantages of SAP’s latest new features without a major overhaul of your business or procurement systems. Whether you’re hoping to upgrade your user interfaces by integrating your SAP Ariba install with MS Teams, or want to take advantage of some of the new features for helping minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, SapienceS2P is here to help. If it is time for a big upgrade, we will help you plan it to minimise the impact on your systems and operations.
There are a lot of different factors that can have a negative impact on your SAP deployment, and they can be hard to pinpoint without expert help. Many SAP customers suffer in silence, not realising how easy it is to implement fixes for the things holding their procurement system back without spending large amounts of time and money.
Many more clients may not realise how easy it is to fix issues caused by their own business set-up or third-party services using SAP products. For instance, the SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway can be used to integrate almost any third-party or existing legacy system.
SAP Ariba, S/4 Hana, and their predecessors can be configured to give any client company just what they need from a procurement solution, so why not let us take a look and help you get a better ROI than ever before.