What's in Store at SAP Sapphire? — Supplier InfoNet, SRM, Sourcing and Beyond (Part 2)

Please click here for Part 1.

On the subject of sourcing and supplier management, SAP has made quite a number of enhancements in its latest Wave 8 Sourcing release (which includes e-sourcing, contract management and supplier management modules). Among other features, SAP continues to include additional capabilities from the rest of its solution arsenal, including enhanced BI reporting and drillable dashboards based on Business Objects technology. It's now possible to run a range of reports directly from the sourcing tool and to quickly drill down into more detail on a per-event, category, or other configured level. Other solutions in the market offer similar capabilities, but few seem as deeply integrated into the core of the application, putting analytics and overall program and project visibility as a centerpiece.

Having looked at the Sourcing BI capability during a recent demonstration, it's clear that SAP has opted to include an extremely intuitive yet powerful set of analytical tools that can play a key role in managing both specific events and broader sourcing programs. The ability, for example, to look at vendor responses on a comparative basis across RFx responses and scoring in a simple yet powerful reporting environment that's completely integrated in the toolset is likely to lure at least some users away from other solutions looking to standardize on SAP.

Sourcing Wave 8 includes a number of additional enhancements, including the ability to create line item attributes and formulas for comparing supplier RFX responses, capabilities and offers. Procurement leaders within companies are also likely to appreciate the latest executive dashboard interfaces that can allow them to easily drill into general activity within their teams (e.g., top 10 users based on number of events, top users based on value of events, etc.). What's perhaps most useful about SAP's dashboarding capability within Sourcing is not just the high-level reporting, however. It's the ability to drill into actual transactions (e.g., line-item level data coming out of either Sourcing or SRM, contract data elements/objects, etc.)

. All in all, SAP Sourcing has become a tight package that will give best of breed vendors a run for their functional money in many areas (and one which we'll be reviewing in more detail at Sapphire and after). But for now, our recent comparative coverage of SAP's Sourcing capability in the Compass Report: A Foundational Look at the Evolution of Sourcing Technology and Platforms suggests, among other observations, that SAP continues to have strong "overall configurability in the market" compared with other SaaS solutions, which is helping them to win "support among procurement and IT organizations looking to create specialized deployments without million-dollar custom development/deployment budgets." Still, SAP Sourcing lacks certain capabilities such as "flexible optimization with multiple, user-defined constraints, scenario-based analysis" -- yet the general e-sourcing gap is clearly closing.

Stay tuned as our analysis of SAP Sourcing, SRM and Sapphire continues.

Jason Busch

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