Back to Hub

Wallmedien: Summary, Analysis and Vendor Recommendations

02/22/2013 By


Throughout this month on Spend Matters, we are profiling the solution capabilities of Wallmedien, a Germany-based procurement technology provider that is only just starting to ramp up its localized commercial efforts in North America (see Part 1 and Part 2; Part 3 and Part 4 will be published next week) – it has, however, had a global support footprint for some time. In this summary PRO analysis, we will provide detailed recommendations for prospects and customers, especially those in North America that may not be familiar with Wallmedien, who could potentially use part or all of their enabling req-to-pay capabilities.

Our summary analysis of Wallmedien suggests the provider is one of the broadest “surround” type of vendors we know in the P2P space (reference: Surround Strategies” to Get More From Existing eProcurement and P2P Investments) which is capable of helping companies get significantly more from current or planned ERP procurement investments (or saving existing implementations from a write-down or write-off as sunk cost). But Wallmedien is more than this. The provider represents:

  • A logical “alternative” to Ariba and other many-to-many supplier network approaches for initial vendor on-boarding as well as transactional connectivity and plumbing for the interchange of documents or associated XML or similarly structured data (for purchase orders, PO changes/cancellations/acknowledgements, change sales orders, advanced ship notifications, invoices, receipting, etc.) Note that Wallmedien does not impose supplier fees.
  • A fresh way of thinking in structuring the potential for “big data” opportunities across an organization as well as networks of companies using its solutions including looking at benchmark performance for pricing and other KPIs for related categories and SKUs. Potential Wallmedien customers should ask to look at some of the pre-production capabilities Wallmedien brings in the analytics area. Note, in reference discussions, at least one current user cited analytics shortcomings in their then-current release, although these deficits appear to be addressed in demonstrations of future release that we have seen – and maybe then some.
  • Wallmedien is one of the more experienced vendors in enabling complex SAP-based procurement initiatives across highly diverse customer environments, including the “messiest of the messiest” type back-ends with dozens of systems, versions and instances.
  • Wallmedien is one of the few providers in the sector with reference after reference supporting highly complex and truly global SAP procurement and supplier enablement/transactional environments
  • A provider that really “thinks differently” about implementations by providing what amounts to a set of tools wrapped around what we can best describe as a “systems integrator” type mindset when it comes to materially customizing each deployment as required based on existing infrastructure and investments. Note, this does not mean Wallmedien cannot work with other SIs in a deployment – but they do bring their own professional services and deployment approach that is truly expert in the req-to-pay area, especially SAP environments
  • A potential replacement (or substitute) for specialist providers that have historically focused on a single area such as catalog/content management; e.g., jCatalog, Heiler, and federated cross-catalog/site/punch-out search firms like Vinimaya.

Our little quibble with Wallmedien is an overly engineering-centric user experience (UI) across some of its capabilities (Catbuy) that reminds us of a cabin of a car we once drove – a European specification BMW 318TI Sport. The vehicle was perfectly functional but every gauge took some time to get to know and use, unlike a Honda or Toyota we could just “walk up to” while driving.

This Teutonic approach will undoubtedly make perfect, immediate sense to users with an engineering background, and others could quickly grow to use it and like it.  And overall, it’s an improvement on earlier SAP-type thinking – but not a radical redesign based around a typical front-line user. Wallmedien told Spend Matters that they made this design decision to enable a smooth usability transition between SRM and its own capabilities. They also support a more modern look/navigation/feel in easyProcure, their standalone requisitioning product. And Wallmedien plans to update its Catbuy interface to match SAP’s more recent navigation changes as well with the service pack update to SRM 7.

Still, we, like all of Wallmedien’s customers we have spoken to so far, are not overly concerned with getting into SAP-centric UI design arguments in support of earlier versions of SRM (blame Waldorf, not us – or Wallmedien!). Rather, the more important discussion is the underlying flexibility of Wallmedien’s solutions and ability to enable existing procurement environments. Given this, we recomment that companies consider Wallmedien when there is a need to:

  • Augment and/or enhance existing req-to-pay implementations, especially in SAP environments (potential customers with Oracle, PeopleSoft and Ariba systems should push Wallmedien on their specific “surround” approaches for their environments). In SAP cases, specifically, Wallmedien stands out as one of the true experts in addition to having one of the broadest ranges of end-to-end enabling capability.
  • Find an Ariba-specific, no-fee network enablement alternative for basic connectivity in cases where SAP is bringing in Ariba to enable existing ECC/SRM environments.
  • Find a front-end (or complete) replacement for earlier ERP eProcurement products (including use cases where previous versions of SAP SRM are not used in any manner that is exposed to a typical user, and Wallmedien is closely connected with ECC as the indirect buying replacement).
  • Identify a broader services procurement approach on top of existing P2P implementations.
  • Find a lower-cost solution or lower-cost replacement for existing solutions in such areas as catalog management and shopping/search.

Wallmedien has a highly referenceable list of customers who are enthusiastic about working with their chosen req-to-pay enablement provider. They cite the passion, experience and network effect of the Wallmedien team and other customers who share similar environments and requirements. Wallmedien alternatives in SAP environments include a range of targeted providers including SAP specialists IBX/Cap Gemini and Hubwoo, among others. The list is considerably longer than this. But it suffices to say, that if you’re looking at Wallmedien, you are probably considering these providers already (as you should be if you are doing thorough solution due diligence).

One of the important risks Wallmedien faces as it scales globally likely stem from its important core strength outside of its solutions: its people. The Wallmedien user community shares a similar respect for the provider and the team behind it that ties them together. Scaling people – from executive leadership to those implementing systems – is never an easy challenge. There are a finite number of resources that truly understand how to improve existing ERP procurement environments with sufficiently soft hands that are appreciative of constrained budgets.

This risk, given the growth we expect to see from Wallmedien in North America in 2013 and 2014 based on early traction, is one that potential customers should be aware of. As such, they should ensure that they understand the specific teams that will be involved with their projects given that “breaking the cement” of partially and often improperly laid req-to-pay foundations is as much art as it is science.