In the first post in this series, I introduced Simplifying IT and their SBx product, which either re-skins and improves the functional capability of SAP SRM or can serve as an (inferior) replacement for SRM, sitting directly on top of ECC and other SAP components for companies that have not yet invested in the SAP indirect purchasing modules. With SBx, Simplifying IT set out to address a number of functional and usability challenges with SRM (especially SRM 5.00 and earlier versions).
Business wise, Simplifying IT argues that these challenges were resulting in "frustrated users, high documentation costs, high training costs, increased time to complete requests" as well as larger burdens on procurement organizations (not to mention increased errors, support costs and the ironic potential for an "increase in maverick" spending). I'd also toss in to the ring a larger hang-up with SAP SRM in prior versions, which was simply the shelfware phenomenon. Companies bought it, but did not use it.
If anything, Simplifying IT aims to completely blow-up the shelfware roadblock to P2P results for companies with an SAP backend. Depending on how an organization uses SBx, the product either represents a Botox injection or a full body makeover of SAP's purchasing capabilities. For example, Simplifying IT makes it possible to add a cross-catalog shopping and punch-out that enables side-by-side product comparisons regardless of the location of the underling catalog content.
Users can also drag and drop items into their shopping cart and see greater detail than before on a single screen without having to give their keyboards a work out by going to multiple locations. In addition, SBx enables users and suppliers to create kits or bundles for popular (or customized) items. It also lets organizations create community and feedback by allowing ratings and reviews of items, suppliers, etc., leveraging user generated content.
Feature and usability enhancements aside, SBx is also about saving time and streamlining the requisition process. Simplifying IT shared with Spend Matters one use case that captures the 15 steps required in SAP SRM for a requisitioner that browses product catalogs, selects a product, considers lead-time implications, assigns a vendor and then places an order. With SBx, this use case takes five steps: clicking to create a shopping cart, choosing the request type, entering the product ID, clicking to proceed to checkout and then submitting the order.
Within SRM 5.0, users must go through many more steps, including clicking a shopping wizard, clicking on internal goods/services, hitting a start button, entering dates, scrolling down a screen, clicking on the source of supply (and scrolling down again) -- and that's just a sub-set of the additional steps required. In short, for this one use-case, Simplifying IT suggests SBx eliminates roughly two-thirds of the process steps while actually increasing accuracy, compliance and order completeness (and reducing order-processing time by 50%). Plus users don't event need to think about what system they're logged into -- SBx uses the same SAP user ID/password. IT will be happy as well, as they won't have to shell out for new hardware, modify their systems, worry about the synching of matter and transaction data or integrating with SAP's enterprise portal.
Stay tuned as our investigation into Simplifying IT and SBx continues. We'll include additional screen shots as well.