SAP raises stakes in battle of SRMs

SAP, the enterprise resource planning software giant, is rolling out a suite of applications that it says will aid supplier...

SAP, the enterprise resource planning software giant, is rolling out a suite of applications that it says will aid supplier selection and monitoring, cut cycle times in manufacturing and conduct procurement-related performance analyses.

The mySAP supplier relationship management (SRM) suite replaces the existing mySAP electronic procurement module. The company also claimed the module would slot into existing procurement and supply chain systems.

Beth Barling, an analyst at AMR Research, told CW360.com: "This moves on from an isolated procurement solution to a whole suite with execution, supplier performance monitoring and decision feedback for the sourcing process".

"SAP is in now line with the market," she added, predicting a battle between I2, Manugistics and Oracle - all of whom rolled out similar products last year - and PeopleSoft which plans to announce an SRM offering by the end of the month.

SAP said it was working with customers on beta versions of the software and promised the technology offered considerable cost savings, but would not give figures, Barling told CW360.com.

SRM technology promises enterprises a complete view of their buying operations but it leaves many questions unanswered.

David Dobrin, an analyst at B2B Analysts, said: "There's a wide gap between what they can deliver and what the market eventually will need."

Barling also warned that while technology now allowed collaborative e-commerce, vendors' products risked outstripping their business models.

"ERP manufacturers are making it easier than ever for suppliers to have the tools to access back-end systems," she said. "But vendors are grappling with pricing models for distributed applications and users should ensure they ask about pricing models."

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