At CCP Global we have a lot of SAP Ariba Managed Support clients that came to us after their original AMS partner didn’t work out. This is after they’d already put a lot of time and money into that support system, with less than positive results.
We’ve found that much of the dissatisfaction stems from partnering with the very large companies that either dominate the procurement consultancy market or outsource the shared services market. Most of these conglomerates don’t offer SAP Ariba Managed Services at all. Instead, they do one of two things:
- Outsource your support to an equally large, US-based company using entry-level employees that may not have a full knowledge of how to solve problems within your specific Ariba ecosphere.
- Outsource your support overseas where often poorly trained phone techs are operating from a script they can’t deviate from.
Anyone who has every called customer support for their phone or cable company knows how frustrating that latter scenario is.
Three Tales from CCP Global’s Trenches
Here are three common scenarios that resulted in several of our current Ariba Managed Support clients reaching out to us.
1. The AMS rep didn’t understand what I was trying to fix.
This gets back to the script concept of AMS. In this case, after going live with Ariba the company decided to outsource their Ariba support to a large, overseas company. Those support people may not have any knowledge of SAP or Ariba; often their only criteria are a basic mastery of English and the ability to use a computer, because the script is what they live by.
For example: the client calls to report a complex issue with an order. The person answering the phone has been instructed to start from the beginning of the script. That results in the client being walked through the process of opening an order beginning with, “open your browser.” It can take many steps to finally get a resolution to the problem – assuming the script has that kind of detail and goes beyond the basics. Besides the high turnover that naturally occurs in these types of companies, training and retraining can become burdensome.
Every Ariba implementation has recommendations for the most appropriate transition plan. People reading from a script can’t account for specialized solutions for specific situations, customizations, SaaS release changes or the nuances of your people and system.
2. My AMS support wasn’t available when I needed it.
Outsourcing AMS services to another country also means outsourcing to another time zone – maybe one where it’s already closing time when your problem crops up. One of our clients didn’t realize that their overseas support team did not work on flex time, so when they had an issue, they had to wait to resolve it. Ariba’s complexity means there is a need to have someone available to what’s happening in the system all day every day.
3. My AMS support costs a small fortune, and I don’t think they earn their fee.
A lot of the big SAP and Ariba partners outsource outgoing support to other big, U.S.-based partners that offer AMS services. These are often support services that are a bit more complex and can’t necessarily be scripted.
Our client’s complaint was that they were paying a fixed, annual price for services, and only getting one service. In this case, it was supplier enablement. In the meantime, they were still having issues with supplier adoption, user support, and customizing the system to work the way they needed it to. However, there was no flexibility in their contract – the AMS service was for this, more services cost more.
This is an especially crucial point if, as another of our recent clients encountered, your system is more than five years old and needs updates and tweaks.
A smaller, vastly more knowledgeable AMS partner that’s focused on your overall system will look at the big picture. In other words, ALL aspects of your system to see where you need help and improvements, training and encouragement because they’re not locked into one task.
And the better they get to know your system, the faster your results will be.
Three Benefits of a Boutique Firm for SAP Ariba Managed Support
- Lower costs. Smaller firms have a smaller, more specialized staff. They don’t have big buildings downtown with their names on the roof. Or giant marketing departments and seven layers of seven figure executives.
- Deeper experience. Employees of smaller consultancies don’t focus on just one specialty, say, supplier enablement. Because of this they have greater exposure and more expertise in a wide range of systems and how to solve problems within those systems.
- Faster results. Time to value is one of the top priorities of a smaller firm, because their bottom line is a straighter line. There aren’t levels of bureaucracy to navigate or fuzzy quality control from somewhere else. They succeed because they need to succeed.