Making the Sapphire Procurement Scenario Real

Yesterday morning, I posted my notes from a Sapphire main stage keynote that highlighted a futuristic use case procurement example using SOA and Web 2.0 elements and components. Today, I thought I'd take a few quick moments to decipher what it would take to bring this to reality. At this point, I see four hurdles to making this scenario real with SAP SRM.

First, SAP needs to integrate the code bases of the Frictionless application (known as E-Sourcing) and the SRM suite (now referred to as SRM 2007, not SRM 6.0). This is supposed to happen sometime in 2008. Before this time, SRM sourcing users will have to make do with rudimentary supplier management and sourcing capabilities, while E-Sourcing users will have to live with less than complete integration with SAP SRM. Many of the capabilities that were used during the use case will depend on getting the Frictionless-based E-Sourcing solution woven seamlessly into SRM. That is, unless an organization wants to spend a fortune paying the SI's to make both separate applications work seamlessly at this point in time.

Second SAP will need to enhance its forthcoming Spend Analytics xApp with supplier performance and other related information. This will enable the use case of examining a part and drilling down on the performance and capabilities of related suppliers capable of producing the same part (based on the information that an organization already has in their supplier master). At this point in time, no dates have been set to make this happen, but I reckon it will be late 2008 at the earliest -- probably 2009 -- when this happens.

Third, SAP will need to fully integrate MDM with both E-Sourcing and Spend Analytics. I would anticipate that the former will occur in Q3 2008 when the Frictionless and SRM code bases converge, but the latter date is undetermined from what I was able to gather at the event. I'd bet on 2009.

Fourth, an organization will need to fully deploy a services oriented architecture (SOA) approach to their entire set of SAP business applications. Fortunately, some organizations like Merck have already started down this path (which, for existing users, I've heard SAP claim that it is a less painful upgrade migration than those of the past; for new customers like Merck, it's part of the standard deployment). Above all, for existing SAP shops, getting a jumpstart on SOA and NetWeaver deployments probably makes sense if realizing the type of SRM procurement vision that SAP portrayed at Sapphire on the main stage is important to you at any point before 2010.

Jason Busch

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