Sapphire Dispatch 8: Making SAP / Microsoft Duet a Solo Performance

At Sapphire in 2007, SAP was quick to trumpet a new joint development initiative with Microsoft that would let SAP users work within the Office Suite to streamline application usage (you can read my previous write-ups on Duet here and here). At the time, I wrote that Duet would in theory "allow SAP users to work within Microsoft applications to manage workflow, permissions, and other capabilities outside of the SAP application or browser interface. The planning on the SAP side is smart and the SRM direction looks slick. But the execution -- especially given their partner's inability to release enterprise products that work as expected in their first year of existence -- is something else entirely." Back then, I was concerned that Duet would not ever get a prime time showing in the procurement arena given Microsoft's own challenges. My concern turned out to be well founded, at least for now.

In 2007, I wrote skeptically of Duet's ability to ever see the limelight: "Of course you can opt to believe the marketing spin on Duet's site: 'Duet purchasing management provides users with the ability to use Microsoft Office to approve purchase requests, understand spending patterns, and analyze supplier performance contained in the mySAP Supplier Relationship Management application in a rapid and cost-efficient manner... Duet enables shopping cart purchases to be routed directly to purchasing approver's Outlook Inbox in full compliance with purchasing business rules and policies. Duet provides associated purchasing analytics on purchasing history, budgets and spending patterns and available budgets. Approved purchasing requests are automatically updated in the back-end SRM system.'... But you simply can't trust Microsoft to get anything Enterprise right... It also begs the question: who will the VP of Procurement and CIO complain to when a purchasing requisitioning crashes the rest of the operating system or slows Outlook to a crawl."

Fortunately, it turns out, CPOs won't have to spend much time complaining to CIOs about Duet crashing their systems. And that's because SAP has put Duet on the backburner for procurement. Today, SAP CLM has Word integration for authoring. But the much trumpeted Duet integration is no more, at least in most cases (nor can I find a single reference). Duet, as I wrote about previously, was supposed to enable tight integration between Microsoft products (Word and Office) allowing users to manage workflows and approvals -- not to mention object and document creation within the Microsoft product suite. But alas, Duet is now trying to avoid the spotlight as much as it can. It would appear to me -- and this is speculation -- that SAP decided to pull the plug on Duet for their On Demand procurement products for now because the integration was not working as planned. Personally -- and not to point fingers here -- I believe that Outlook within Office 2007 proved to be the problem given how over-engineered and slow the application often runs (at least in my experience). Perhaps SAP will once again revisit Duet-like capability in the future within procurement, but for now, Duet is playing solo (at least for most concerts).

On this note, SAP suggested to me "that we decided to not use Duet anymore for the CLM scenario, because of TCO concerns in a multi tenant environment. Still, we are going to deliver a similar set of features early in 2010. [And] as far as SRM is concerned, Duet is optional. Actually, we do not position it actively with SRM." Nor should they. After all, given my own experience with Microsoft Office/Outlook 2007, I sincerely hope Duet does not get a formal burial. It’s not worth the effort to pick up the shovel.

Jason Busch

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  1. Chad Burnell:

    This article is a few years old, any idea if there have been any updates with contract authorization in CLM utilizing Duet Enterprise?

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