SAP AG will kickoff its joint annual Sapphire-ASUG customer conference this week which will feature revised messaging and strategic direction for the SAP Supply Chain Management suite of applications. This strategy was initially shared at the SAP Insider Supply Chain Management conference in early April as a prelude to this week’s Sapphire event.

SAP will communicate the need for businesses to transform their supply chains to demand networks which implies deeper, more agile support capabilities for integrated business planning (IBP), specifically, the sales and operations planning (S&OP) process. SAP’s perspective in IBP capabilities is communicated as balancing product demand plans with supply network constraints for profitability, as well as the sensing and shaping of product demand to orchestrate customer fulfillment needs and requirements. In essence, SAP’s intent is to enhance and deploy a broader, next generation supply chain platform that is described as a broad, many to many supply chain control tower platform capability underpinned by IBP and response orchestration. The technology will be offered on either a cloud-based or on premise deployment leveraging the SAP HANA platform and more than likely tap the supply network capabilities of Ariba.

As our SAP installed base readers are well aware, the transformation of such a broad collection of SAP supply chain network and applications capabilities will take many subsequent years to accomplish and will require SAP focused supply chain business and IT teams to make difficult decisions over that same period. In the meantime, supply chain teams need to continue to manage today’s supply chain needs for agility , increased responsiveness as well as enhanced efficiencies.

It is important to consider that as SAP builds out its new muscle platform, organizations that are invested in SAP and want to continue to gain more productive benefits need to focus their efforts on further mastering broad-based supply chain planning process modeling, simulation and master data management integration capabilities. Another important consideration is that the SAP Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), powered by HANA will become ever more strategic for enabling what SAP seeks to achieve.

Supply Chain Matters recently featured a commentary focused on this application. In our commentary we observed that getting up-to-speed and supporting a process that spans such a broad level of participation and influence with an application with this current level of sophistication, often requires the external assistance of an SAP implementation partner. In that commentary, we called reader attention to Intrigo Systems, a focused SAP implementation partner with a high level of honed experience, knowledge and fixed scope implementation methodologies related to SAP’s S&OP Powered by HANA application.

While SAP Sales and Operations Planning, Powered by SAP HANA is a cloud-based application, the needs for managed scope, proven phased implementation of data integration, coupled with considerations for change management and usability uptake remain critical.  As this application further matures and becomes the linchpin for short-term, mid and long-term supply chain and IBP within a more product demand sensing SAP environment, process modeling, robust master data integration and cross-functional user adoption and productivity will be a must for core capabilities. Continuous engagement with business users on testing and maturing the IBP process, while understanding what capabilities would be most important in the strategic roadmap are equally crucial to long-term acceptance and adoption.

In its latest messaging, SAP has acknowledged the critical importance of its supply chain partner eco-system in helping users to gain more benefits and positive outcomes from use of SAP technology.  That listing of partners includes Intrigo Systems which will be showcasing its capabilities at Sapphire this week.

Intrigo provides both the knowledge, proven experience and close alignment with SAP’s strategic direction concerning this application and should be on your short-list for adopting an implementation partner.

Bob Ferrari

Disclosure: Intrigo Systems is a current client of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group