I just learned yesterday from a handful of contacts close to -- but not employed by -- SAP that the ERP provider will discontinue selling SRM 6.0 to customers not already in the 6.0 Ramp-Up program. If my sources are to be believed -- and there are multiple ones in this case -- SAP has made a mistake by recently deciding not to go G/A with SRM 6.0 (or SRM 2007, as they also referred to it as earlier in the year). The botched release has the potential to have disastrous effects on the SAP procurement pipeline because SRM 6.0 was to address many of the weaknesses of 5.0 which included a kludgy UI, a challenging interface that made it hard to search and find POs, a cumbersome process to define filters, and workflow which forced users to go through multiple clicks to launch actions (I once heard it referred to as the "anti"-one-click-Amazon).
While I'm not sure at this point the exact reasons for forcing customers to wait for SRM 7.0 which will be available in Q42008 from what I've heard, it provides a great window for Ariba, Ketera, and many others to push their wares into the SAP installed base. It also calls into questions the current market viability of SAP MDM, which was supposed to be a replacement for Requisite and previous SAP attempts at catalog content management (one wonders if that is the reason for the delayed release, or whether it was something else). Perhaps most damaging, the cancellation of the G/A release will benefit Oracle, who will clearly now get a check in the procurement arena over SAP in head to head ERP systems comparisons. I also suspect that it will force SAP to keep selling the old Frictionless contract management toolset which while highly configurable, lacked many of the capabilities of others in the market and the eye-candy benefits of Duet.
6.0 was also supposed to enable a category management approach to procurement and sourcing on a single platform including frameworks and category guidance based on third-party processes and expertise (i.e., it was to be a consultant’s dream to customize). The thought behind this was to essentially copy what Ariba pioneered with its own solutions by enabling standardized and formal sourcing and procurement organizational structure, global monitoring and significant process visibility and workflow controls. I suppose that companies looking for this today -- or anytime before 2009, for that matter, given SAP's historical track record of not meeting scheduled release dates in this space -- will have to turn elsewhere. And I'm sure Ariba, Ketera, Oracle, and many others will be happy to take their calls.
I will continue to update this story as information develops and becomes available.