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So, what is this blog about?

The purpose of writing this blog is to share my experiences of witnessing several e-Procurement and Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) project implementations- based on SAP and other solutions.  I want to talk about the causes of project delays and strategies to shorten project durations.

This topic is timely as e-procurement/SRM marketplace has a renewed energy due to innovations in mobility, analytics, database and cloud computing.  Several companies are either planning new projects or are in the process of enhancing their existing procurement solutions.

About me, I am a Sr. Principal with SAP’s Business Transformation Consulting group.  Prior to SAP, I worked at a large consulting and systems integration firm as Partner and management consultant.

Little bit of history of e-Procurement and SRM

It started with e-Procurement (aka Self-Service Procurement or Internet Procurement) solution in the mid to late 1990s.  Simply put, e-Procurement enabled employees to browse electronic catalogs, and request and order goods (typically non-critical items) and services from a list of suppliers approved by their company. 

Over the years scope of e-Procurement has expanded to include strategic sourcing, spend management, contract management, supplier networks, etc.  This “broadened” space is commonly referred to as Supplier Relationship Management (SRM). 

e-Procurement/ SRM Projects- Reasons for delays

I have often wondered why some e-Procurement/ SRM projects succeed, while some others falter.   Let me start by listing a few reasons/scenarios that, I believe, cause projects to get delayed or even fail.

  • Customers jumping straight into implementing e-Procurement/SRM solution without performing strategic planning activities such as analyzing spend, streamlining procurement & sourcing process, and creating program roadmap, etc. 
  • Projects lacking sound project plan and skilled project manager(s).
  • “Force-fitting” the existing processes and organizational structure into an SAP program, resulting in inefficient/complex design.
  • Customers trying to mimic the existing legacy solution features and the look and feel, hoping the user adoption will be easier.
  • Customers going overboard by integrating e-Procurement/SRM solution with their existing external systems, instead of using SRM and SAP-ERP driven implementations as the opportunity to simplify the application landscape.
  • Lack of sound catalog/ content strategy and consequent delays in building and scaling up of supplier catalogs.
  • Global e-Procurement/SRM deployments with avoidable localizations and non-standard business processes, and lacking logical deployment roadmap

I realize the list is incomplete, so I welcome SAP community members to relate their experiences.

Implementing e-Procurement/SRM projects efficiently

More than ever before, the customers are demanding quick gratification.  So, there is a need to create novel approaches to delivering e-Procurement/ SRM projects efficiently.  A sound upfront planning and strategic procurement/ sourcing principals complemented by professional project management, optimal deployment roadmap, simplified architecture, and an appropriate mix of features and functionality could help greatly in making the implementation timely as well as cost effective.

Customers are also demanding new innovative solutions.  To mention a few business scenarios- (a) Enable users access purchasing transactions on their mobile devices; (b) Enable solutions for buyers/ suppliers on cloud; (c ) Provide high-speed analytics for purchasing transactions,  etc.

SAP and its service partners have been helping customers with finding new ways to impart speed to their project implementations, while also leveraging new technology innovations.  One such example is SAP’s Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) offering for SRM- Operational Procurement.  Customers can supplement these RDS offerings with other solutions as needed (e.g., mobility, analytics, etc.) by leveraging Advanced Delivery Management (ADM) service delivery approach. 

We can expect e-Procurement/ SRM market to continue to grow in the coming years fueled by new innovations, and supported by improved project implementation approaches.

I welcome feedback and suggestions from the SAP Community and Procurement professionals on this blog.  Please respond to this blog on SCN.  You may email me privately @ anil.joshi@sap.com

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