Simplifying IT: Potentially Disrupting the SAP SRM Ecosystem with a Breakthrough Idea (Part 3)

One of the major benefits that Simplifying IT's SBx product (see earlier posts here and here) introduces from a compliance angle is the ability to create multiple process checkpoints throughout the requisitioning and approval lifecycle that go beyond what SAP SRM enables.

Compliance is truly the name of the enhanced SAP spend game here. Starting with the ability to guide users to shopping using existing agreement, SBx first alerts users to look for items in a catalog versus non-catalog form. But it also enables users to then make the best total cost decision by aggregating information from multiple sources (they call it "X-Catalog) in a single UI, complete with cost information, product attribute data and, if a company enables it, reviews and ratings.

Next, when it comes to selecting/approving vendors at the contracted price, SBx automatically proposes preferred terms and items and also lets users consider less costly substitute items in the context of their search. The system also searches in real time to compare pricing for re-orders, creating an effective price-check to ensure contract (and off contract) pricing adherence based on purchasing transaction history.

SBx also allows for greater adherence to corporate buying policy by auto-populating fields to reduce errors and providing what they describe as "context-sensitive, point-of-need" alerts. An example here might be a certain type of request (based on budget category, spend category, amount, etc.) that goes above a certain level. Administrators can also assign company policy, documentation, workflow and rules to specific categories, a process that has historically required a costly customization of SAP SRM in earlier releases. To help drive future compliance, Simplifying IT also classifies new, off-catalog requests based on the description of the item itself. Last, SBx provides accounting information in the context of the shopping cart and requisition record for approval and review.

The way the application proposes alternative, less expensive products and general product ratings is also quite slick. In addition, the kitting and bundling example I've previously described in this series is especially useful for even basic catalog items, such as a laptop purchase. Under this scenario, on a single screen, after a user places the notebook in the shopping cart and/or evaluates buying options, a single screen presents key follow-up questions and items (e.g., where to install the item, what type of computer is it, is an additional monitor or printer needed, is there equipment that needs to be removed, etc.). Other thoughtful touches abound. For example, when tracking order status, SBx shows the PO number as well (SAP SRM 5.0 does not) on the same screen as the order name, requester, creation date, total cost and general order status.

Stay tuned for the final post in this series, where we'll offer summary commentary and recommendations for companies that should consider Simplifying IT.

Jason Busch

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