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Ross Barnes-Moore21-Feb-2022 11:18:525 min read

Is your ERP vendor managing you?

Who’s managing your vendor?

So, you took the decision to outsource your systems support to your vendor.

But you’ve got a feeling that things aren’t going well...

  • SLAs were set up at the start of a contract but they’re starting to slip. It can be difficult to enforce them when you rely on your vendor to run your programme.
  • Your business process experts don’t have any SAP skills so you can’t measure what your vendor is doing? How can you challenge them and how do you even know if they’re telling the truth!?
  • Your vendor might make you believe that everything is working fine thanks to successful testing, but the reality is that now you’re live the system isn’t up to scratch.
  • Your vendor doesn’t act like part of your team. They act like an independent service provider, looking after your account in any way they see fit. You thought that they would have been part of a team but it wasn’t made clear at the outset.
  • Key vendor resources with expert business knowledge go on holiday or move off the account with no warning to be replaced by someone with no business knowledge.  The business has no control over vendor resource churn.

When problems like these arise it’s clear to see your vendor is managing you - and it should be the other way around.

It’s time to take action.

Why you must take charge of your vendor on an SAP programme.

If you don’t manage your vendor then they start to manage the service they are providing themselves.

They might start to prioritise tasks independently, deciding what’s important for them to work on first (often with them focussing on the easiest deliverables, which might not be what’s important for you).

When an SLA slips, the vendor might report back to you that the same resource is working on a different issue. But what if in your contract you didn’t state how many resources you needed, only to measure against SLAs? These are the kinds of problems that arise when your vendor is managing you.

In situations like this the extreme measure is to impose a fine or a rebate as breach of contract - but that’s a risk in itself.

What if the vendor decides to leave? You would have to select a new vendor - a long, time consuming and expensive process that comes with a host of its own challenges.

Instead, you need to get back to the win-win contract that you originally signed, but with the necessary steps taken to put you back on an even footing with your vendor. The vendor wants to feel like they’re getting a fair profit and you want to feel like you’re getting value for money.

So how do we get there?

How to restore balance in your vendor relationship

To restore balance in the relationship with your vendor, you need to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge internally to face off against them.

The problem is this can take a while, so you need to do something in the short term to bridge the gap and put you back on level pegging with the vendor.

So what should your first steps be in the short term?

First steps toward SAP Vendor Management.

Your first step should be to find an independent consultancy with the knowledge and skills to review and measure the competence of your vendor.

By assessing the contractual obligations of the vendor and comparing this with the level of service the vendor is actually providing, an independent consultancy will be in a position to represent you against the vendor and get the vendor back on track performing at the level they should be according to your contract.

With this independent consultancy in place you can begin to think about your long term planning for vendor management.

Long term SAP Vendor Management

To effectively manage your vendor you will need to continuously review the vendor’s performance, and there are two main ways to do this.

1. Get SAP skills in-house

To be able to effectively manage your vendor yourself you need your own SAP skills. 

It takes time to build up a team of skilled resources in house and it’s expensive.

However while expensive, in house skills will provide the following:

  • Business process knowledge as well as SAP knowledge
  • The link between the business and the vendor
  • The translators of business requirements into system functional specifications
  • Strategic thinkers who ensure that all changes are contributing to the business strategy

Ideally, you need someone who can provide QA, monitor vendor actions, and provide business side assurance on vendor managed testing.

Your SAP skilled resources will bond with the vendor and make the team stronger, business goals will be met and focussed results will in turn lead to a better experience for all parties involved.

But what if you can’t justify the time or cost of bringing SAP skills in house?

2. Get SAP skills on-demand

Sometimes when you can’t justify bringing SAP skills in house, you might be surprised to hear that another vendor could provide a solution to your vendor management problems.

SAP skills on-demand from an independent consultancy is a great way to reduce costs whilst maintaining independence during reviews, quality assurance and monitoring the vendor’s performance.

While it isn’t always as effective and risk free as having SAP skills in-house, this is still a viable alternative if you don’t want to go to the lengths required to bring skills in house full time.

Start now

Wherever you are on your journey to better vendor management, we can help.

From acting as the independent, business side authority you need to face off against your problematic vendor, to helping you create a strategy to bring the SAP skills you need in house we can help. 

We can even help you find a new vendor if your current vendor relationship is simply beyond repair.

Contact us here to find out how.

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