Scarfing Down Your Own E-Procurement Dog Food: Going Live Globally With SAP Ariba in 3 Months — An Interview with Dr. Marcell Vollmer (Part 2)

dog food gsk2013/Adobe Stock

After taking over as CPO within SAP, Marcell quickly moved to address the e-procurement issue, owing to his previous laptop shopping experience. In 2011, he started an upgrade process to leverage SAP SRM 7. This upgrade initiative would ultimately become sidetracked (although 7.02 workflows into SAP ERP on HANA for vendor invoice management would be deployed) with the acquisition of Ariba.

At the same time of this initial technology initiative, Marcell would also begin to put in place a combination of global category frameworks (and support) with local buying centers designed to optimize strategic program elements (e.g., sourcing/negotiation) and minimize transactional costs.

Andale Andale Ariba!

After these initial steps, the next question in Marcell’s mind was what to do on the systems side. He decided that 2012 would be a “fresh start” for SAP e-procurement and that they would attempt to set the record (based on implementation speed) for a global Ariba cloud implementation. After SAP acquired Ariba, there were operational integration components from a procurement perspective, such as moving Ariba contracts onto SAP paper and taking advantage of the leverage of the parent organization.

But the real prize (for SAP Procurement) was using Ariba itself. Marcell and Bob Calderoni (Ariba’s then-president) agreed to a three-month implementation rollout timeline to put all of SAP’s 70,000 employees onto Ariba (the number today is 85,000). The program was to be a showcase of the speed with which a complex, global organization could move to cloud purchasing.

The project would start in January of 2012 with the goal of being live (and having stories to tell) in time for SAP Sapphire in May of that year. Marcell and his team accomplished the goal in three months, although it was a “tough journey,” owing to all of the custom interfaces and integrations at the time that needed to be built. (In 2012 API-drive cloud integration into back-end systems was still nascent.) Fortunately, being SAP, they had the technical resources in-house to do it.

Silencing the Naysayers and Standardizing Practices

Despite the custom integration requirements and hiccups, Marcell was more than satisfied with the breakneck speed with which they could get the system up and running — although there were internal hurdles, such as business users and different groups wanting to maintain customized processes within Ariba. Marcell and his team eventually won these arguments by suggesting they just adopt best and standardized practices and workflows, which they did.

To be continued…

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