Back of the Napkin — A New Series and an Open Invitation

I'd like to invite all Spend Matters readers to participate in a new series we'll post every Friday on Spend Matters titled "Back of the Napkin". The goal is to bring a bit of visual substance, learning and, cough, humor to the world we inhabit. Each week, we'll post a new sketch or chart -- literally a back of the napkin sketch is more than sufficient -- submitted by our readers (or us). We're happy to attribute submissions to those both living and dead, if they desire; or we can keep contributions anonymous. I'll personally lead off the first installment next week to show off how someone without a single artistic bone in his body can have fun switching from a keyboard to a whiteboard as a medium to convey ideas.

I'll come to the plate of the inaugural edition next week by personally drawing one artistic interpretation of the madness that has become the underlying chaotic architecture for SAP's procurement hydra -- which combines elements of core ERP/MRP (EBP), organically home-grown (hopefully in fertile manure) indirect procurement suite (SRM), e-sourcing and contracts (Frictionless acquisition) and Spend Performance Management -- not to mention the many arms and legs of its services and BPO partners. Now, I shouldn't just pick on SAP alone. My sources tell me Oracle essentially requires half a dozen or more screens to be open at once in its typical source-to-pay demonstrations (I've only demoed individual products one at a time, so I can't vouch for this). But the SAP example should suffice to show both the dangers and humor of having not only two many cooks in the kitchen, but too many kitchens to begin with.

Moreover, SAP's complexity and architectural absurdness pales in comparison to the heterogeneous systems environments in which many of us operate. I'll welcome anonymous architectural sketches that show further madness within which we must put systems and processes in place in actual procurement environments (I'll share some this summer that I've personally been involved with, anonymized, of course). But don't feel like you've got to be a geek to play this game with us. Self-drawn comic-like sketches poking fun at our profession, New Yorker-esque cartoons that make fun of those around us (e.g., HR) and the like are all welcome. The sky is literally the artistic buying limit here. So take out your sketch pen and join us for this fun new visual series that I hope will also prove that a picture can portray a thousand words – or a thousand (hopefully) three-way matched POs.

If you have a contribution, please scan and email it to: smoore (at) spendmatters (dot) com or fax to 940-234-5485. Please don't send any material that is not original or is already copyrighted by a third-party. A submission to Spend Matters provides us with a perpetual non-exclusive license to show the material (unless you request us to take it down). All material submitted will remain the intellectual property of the submitter who will retain the full rights and interests to it.

- Jason Busch

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