Debbie Wilson Chimes in on SAP SRM and Sourcing Selection

I recently came across this interview with Gartner's Debbie Wilson on Tech Target. Personally, I find interviews like this far more revealing as to what an analyst really believes -- although, of course, their words are still couched due to the potential of analyst relations fury and the money threats that an ERP vendor would surely hurl forth if they read a sharply critical interview -- than what they say in their actual writing. This is especially true at Gartner, given committee editorial rules that make getting a piece of written content out more challenging than actually getting out an unplanned question during a Presidential stump speech Q/A. But I digress. Let's examine a few of the points that Debbie shared.

According to Debbie, while SAP is "trying to do the right thing in terms of getting all this functionality in their portfolio so they can make it available to customers," it's clear from recent challenges that "they have some opportunity for learning." This can actually be a bit of a double-edged sword as "this confusion has actually made some customers reconsider" such products as SAP E-Sourcing. Fair enough -- it's an astute observation in line with what I've heard from a number of customers as well. But it's not surprising that many SAP shops are actively considering SAP E-Sourcing, particularly given the fact that it's one of only a handful of SAP products whose current release is competitive -- or at least worthy of comparison -- from a capability and UI perspective with best of breed products in the market.

On a different note, I could not agree more with Debbie that customers considering buying SAP SRM should consider only current products. The article quotes Debbie as noting, "Don't buy promises ... Buy what is in the software today, and then hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised in the future." From my view, some of what is in the software today can certainly stand on its own two feet from a competitive perspective. Where SAP is headed with their emerging spend visibility application is quite fascinating indeed, not to mention the strengths of the contract management capability that SAP gained from Frictionless (which has in configurability what it gives up in bleeding edge features and functions). Still, if you're considering any SAP solutions today in the Spend Management area, I would wholeheartedly agree with Debbie's advice that it's critical to evaluate what they're serving on the table today, versus what they're cooking in the kitchen for tomorrow.

Jason Busch

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