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Author's profile photo Debra Curtis-Magley

Simplicity at SAP. Mission Impossible?

Simplify is THE theme at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW. It’s reiterated in numerous presentations and videos, reflected throughout the show floor, and it’s probably the most frequently mentioned word in the #SAPPHIRENOW Twitter feed.

While many attendees at SAPPHIRE NOW embrace SAP’s mantra to simplify, some are struggling to visualize how simplicity will truly be realized across the product portfolio and organization.


The path to simplicity starts with SAP customers. And based on a number of presentations this week, our customers are sprinting down that path.


Timken’s Robert Arbogast delivered a compelling business case for the outcomes gained at this global manufacturer. Timken simplified its highly disconnected HR process through collaboration with internal business partners and a commitment to an integrated platform. The company implemented the SuccessFactors suite with a single sign-on process that fueled employee adoption. Timken has gained greater agility to react to business changes, better management of its employee data, and faster access to innovation.

Caesars Entertainment and Monsanto shared their individual paths to simplicity using hybrid solutions. For Caesars’, it moved away from a highly-manual sourcing process that relied on phone calls to find potential vendors and paper RFPs.  The gaming company achieved greater efficiency and cost savings with sourcing solutions like Ariba Discovery that helped it quickly locate minority suppliers. At Monsanto, simplicity started with gaining control over $2.7 billion in spend that was being processed without purchase orders. Efficiency was also key — with double digit growth, Monsanto needed to manage its increased procurement spend without increasing its procurement headcount.  The success that Monsanto is experiencing will grow as it extends its Ariba deployment to Asia.


Customer simplicity was showcased during the keynote with Hasso Plattner and Bernd Leukert. John Deere and ConAgra Foods discussed how each of their companies gained simplicity through re-inventing enterprise processes with SAP HANA. John Deere identifies problems and the root causes faster which means it can respond better and more efficiently. ConAgra simulates “What if” scenarios on SAP HANA to better anticipate demand planning, supply planning and manufacturing.

The path to simplicity is a journey. And SAP’s customers are leading the way.

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      Author's profile photo Stephen Johannes
      Stephen Johannes

      The problem is language and the abuse of the word simple by SAP.  Let's face it this is not a path to "simple processes", but rather "lean processes".  SAP is never going to remove all the complexity, but SAP can remove the waste.  Life and nature actually is really complex, and so are most organizations.  Creating efficiency by removing waste is good thing.  Does that make things less complex, yes.  It does not however make life "simple".

      Just remember: If things were simple, there would be no need for SAP solutions/products.  In fact it's the complexity of the word that causes the need in the first place.  I really think "simple" is a very bad marketing term.  It's almost worst than "game-changer".

      Take care,


      Author's profile photo Debra Curtis-Magley
      Debra Curtis-Magley
      Blog Post Author


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. There's a lot of lively commentary on this topic with a variety of views. Your point about achieving "lean processes" is a good one. Gaining efficiency (one way to think about being lean) was a key outcome that many customers cited as an advantage they've achieved. For others, reducing steps in their processes created a simpler experience for their internal teams and employee communities.

      I appreciate your feedback and look forward to other comments on this topic.


      Author's profile photo Nathan Love
      Nathan Love

      When we think of the word "simple," we immediately think of its opposites: difficult, complex, or even pretentious. I think we may need to understand the path to simplicity may start from avoiding confusion (internally and externally) rather than avoiding the complexity and depth of our products. The fact that “SAP’s customers are leading the way” can only be beneficial.

      Author's profile photo Debra Curtis-Magley
      Debra Curtis-Magley
      Blog Post Author

      Good observation Nathan. People have a variety of perspectives on what "simple" means to them ... efficiency via few processes or faster processing, easier-to-use via intuitive user interface or simpler deployment, etc. I expect that we'll continue to see interesting discussions on this topic as SAP pursues its path to simplicity.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.