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Why ERP Does Not Suck Anymore for Procurement Technology*

03/28/2019 By


I recently dug out some old presentations that I used in the not too distant past with procurement practitioners and consultants that pinpointed the historic shortcomings of ERP procurement capabilities in practice vs. in theory (both within core financials/MRP capabilities and on the business application side).

Let’s face it. These solutions generally had somewhat dismal adoption rates and cost small fortunes to customize and implement — essentially serving as as jobs programs to keep consultants and systems integrators in business. Many procurement and IT organizations we have worked with over the years felt burned on buying feature/function capability that looked good on paper, but that required, from an e-procurement perspective, the infamous 10 clicks (or worse) to buy — that is if you could even find what you were looking for.

Worse, the amount of shelfware (i.e., unused seats) these solutions generated deserves an honorable mention in the hall of overspending technology adoption shame. That is, when companies even paid for them (many seats were given away for various reasons).

But it’s time to truly write off the ERP past with two of the top ERP providers.

SAP Ariba has doubled-down not only on core capability packaged approaches to accelerate adoption — and in the case of SAP Ariba, performs at the top of many of the SolutionMap functional rankings — but also next generation technology. For example, artificial intelligence to guide users down specific paths. Moreover, SAP Ariba is one of the top performing procurement technology suite vendors overall in SolutionMap.

And Oracle, with its investments in Cloud/Fusion, provides one of the best Deep-persona Procure-to-Pay (E-Procurement + Invoice-to-Pay) functional solutions in the market based on the latest SolutionMap benchmark — at least for companies also migrating their Oracle back-end to Cloud financials. Its platform-level investments in AI, blockchain and other areas are real — and are showing up in use cases that cascade across supply chain, finance and purchasing. The solution has capabilities for geeks and pragmatists alike. And in the case of integrated supply chain capabilities for manufacturers, there’s nothing like it that spans procurement and operations on a single platform in support of transactional, steady-state activity.

Now, we could still nitpick different product areas from Strategic Procurement Technologies and Source-to-Pay perspective with these two top ERPs. But we can do this with nearly all vendors.

So to summarize:

  • If you’re jaded from the ERP past with these firms, don’t be. It’s a whole new world in 2019. Write off any emotion and sunk cost from the past.
  • SAP and Oracle are worthy shortlist contenders for all procure-to-pay scenarios in Spend Matters SolutionMap, at least as of Q1 2019 (in SAP’s case, even for non SAP shops thanks to how SAP Ariba can be decoupled from SAP financials, S/4HANA or otherwise). SAP Ariba is also recommended as a top SolutionMap choice for broader source-to-pay capabilities, as noted above.
  • Compare these providers with best-of-breed and see what you think. Just as we would never recommend someone consider Basware, Coupa, Determine, GEP, Ivalua, SynerTrade, Tradeshift, Wax Digital, Zycus or other top performing suite providers individually without considering alternatives, we would never recommend jumping to sign up for SAP or Oracle without a comparative evaluation using SolutionMap Accelerator or another methodology.
  • It’s critical to consider upgrade timing for core financials to Cloud in the case of Oracle to take full advantage of its transactional procurement, accounts payable and working capital capabilities.

If you’re considering SAP Ariba and Oracle for any procurement technology area and want to understand how their capabilities map to your customized, specific business requirements in a matter of hours (per module — e.g., e-procurement, invoice-to-pay, spend analytics, sourcing, contract lifecycle management and supplier management) compared with all other vendors in the SolutionMap benchmark, don’t hesitate to get in touch. SolutionMap Accelerator can do what its name promises if you’re in the market to find the best solutions to shortlist in a matter of days or weeks, even without issuing a formal RFI (because we’ve done that already).

* At least not SAP and Oracle. But we can’t pass judgment on Infor, Unit4, Sage, Microsoft, Netsuite, Workday and other ERP providers that we’ve not reviewed in SolutionMap.