Supply Chain Matters, along with other influential bloggers, was recently briefed by executives at SAP AG regarding the Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) programs now being offered across various application segments.

The notion of a pre-packaged, fixed price offering bundling application software and implementation services has not been a new concept for SAP, with previous forms of bundled like programs dating back to 2006.  There is however some important differences and learning incorporated in the current program.

For this author, one very significant difference is an acknowledgement from SAP of fundamental shifts in buying influences. SAP is now willing to acknowledge that software needs in today’s market stem from smaller, more manageable projects with line-of-business teams having a greater influence in buying and implementation decisions. That statement coming from a enterprise software provider that has long catered to the influence of IT is somewhat profound.  The growing influence of cloud computing offerings that offer quicker time-to-value for line-of-business and supply chain functional teams has also been a motivator.

RDS offerings are marketed as complete, ready-to-run applications that can be successfully implemented in six to twelve week time periods.  They involve a single unit of SAP software, in many cases sub-components of existing suite applications.  As an example, a current supply chain and procurement offering is SAP SRM- Self-Service Procurement, or SAP BusinessObjects Sales and Operations Planning.

Customers are provided two contracts, one for software and one for a fixed price, pre-defined software implementation that comes with pre-configured best practices, implementation guides and other project enablement aides such as project team and user training. SAP Services has been instrumental in providing the implementation service components and worldwide implementation consultants. However, SAP has now acknowledged the importance that ecosystem partners can play in sustaining the momentum of RDS offerings which is also an important difference.

From a supply chain and procurement perspective, the most interesting RDS offerings are planned for later 2011 release.  Some of these applications include:

SAP Supplier Network Collaboration

SAP Extended Warehouse Management

SAP Service Parts Planning

Various iterations of SAP Transportation Management for domestic planning, freight tendering, or ocean carrier booking.

There all also some rather interesting RDS offerings planned for manufacturing execution, integration and intelligence.

Noticeably missing are components of SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO), and SAP Global Trade Management.

Once again, SAP prospects and customers will be the ultimate judge of how successful and how important RDS will be in 2011 technology implementation plans.  The ongoing support and involvement of SAP’s Ecosystem partners will also be an important consideration as to whether RDS will scale in popularity. SAP executives claim that RDS offerings will be very competitively priced, but that remains to be seen.  Buying teams will need to be diligent in performing an ‘apples-to-apples comparison of price vs. functionality and services offered.

From our Supply Chain Matters perspective, SAP has at least done its homework and recognized that time-to-value, speed and bundled services will continue to be a very important component for technology deployment in the coming months.

If any of our readers have either evaluated current SAP RDS offerings or have completed an implementation, we would appreciate hearing from you.  You can contact us at info <at> supply-chain-matters dot com.

Bob Ferrari