Business Solutions with SAP
SAP RFI and RFP processes focusing on business success

SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

This is a followup from last week’s post on  Why SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI Processes are Stupid.  Next week’s post will provide insight, suggestions, and ideas on how to ensure your SAP RFI or RFP processes achieve the best possible results.

SAP is a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) business software application.  In the COTS world solid financial statements may indicate an SAP partner or vendor who has mastered the art of “squatting” or “lock-in.”  They may routinely custom code non-mission critical “requests” from the business, where other more standard solutions might have worked. Less experienced consultants (with great margins for the consulting company) will often suggest customized solutions for areas that are not business critical because it is easier than the change management requirements.

Some of these SAP vendors do custom coding under the pretense of “customer satisfaction” and trying to “meet your needs.”  I feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t you?

Is Custom SAP Development Really Customer Service?

After these SAP Partners have “satisfied” your requests for custom coding they stay on to constantly nurse, fix, adjust, and maintain their prized custom work.  There are times when custom development is justified but it must be related to a critical business need and not a “convenience.”  After you go-live with the customized, frequently broken, painfully inadequate “solution” you wonder how did we get here?  You ask yourself, “I thought they said all of this was ‘standard’, and ‘easy’ during the SAP RFI and RFP sales cycles?”

If you are even remotely thinking these types of thoughts the SAP RFI and RFP processes may have been more of a “beauty pageant” and not focused enough on business requirements or items which generate ROI (i.e. Return on Investment) for your enterprise software project.

I don’t care how great an SAP implementation vendor or partner thinks they are, all I want to know is exactly how they will help my business!

SAP Vendors “Pick Me!  Pick Me!” We’ve Got Great Financial Strength and Have Been There FOREVER!

An SAP system partner’s ability to “squat” at your company for years, collecting fees for software engineering, helps them to promote their “financial health” and “long term stability” to the next client –, leading me to ask, how again does this help your company realize the benefits of a Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solution.  Your application life-cycle costs, or the SAP TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) will go sky high and you may only see negative SAP ROI.

RFI processes have got to focus on just one thing–, business benefit.  Everything else is part of a “beauty pageant.”

Start leveraging the RFI process to ensure that you are focusing on success criteria that is important to you! In the end what matters is that you get the very best consultants, who have extensive application experience and strong change management skills (see Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2).

The key is to focus on making the SAP RFI and SAP RFP processes about education as much as it is about vendor selection (see Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP). Make the SAP partner or vendor focus on what they can do for you and your business right from the beginning.

Can the SAP Partner Show You Business Benefit?

That SAP partner or vendor must demonstrate how they have been able to provide real, lasting, and tangible business benefit.  What business value did they deliver?  If they can’t show this then maybe they are profitable in their ability to “game” you during the sales process.  To maintain their financial health and margins they likely have inexpensive “technicians” rather than experts to work on your project (Successful SAP Project Team Composition – Technicians or Experts?).

Stop accepting fast-food taste and ambiance at five star restaurant prices — DEMAND business benefit.

Let me warn you here however, because this demand for verifiable business benefits is fairly new to the marketplace you may struggle to find your implementation partner.  Or you may end up managing your entire project completely on your own by bringing in your own outside contractors.  But until you as a customer and part of the larger marketplace start demanding results SAP vendors and partners will not change.

Your customers demand results from you, shouldn’t you demand the same of your SAP partner or vendor?

Business Focus Produces a More Meaningful SAP Vendor RFI and RFP

What do you want the end results of your SAP system to do for your company? Are you focused on operational excellence?  Are you looking to produce innovative products or services?  Do you want to focus on business and marketplace growth?  What is the ultimate goal of your SAP implementation?

The RFI, RFP, and selection process must focus on the skill, experience, and qualifications of the project manager and consultants. STOP right here and let that sink in. Will ANY of those grinning sales people be there to deliver one single business solution?  Of course not, they are there to make the promises to convince you to pay them for their consultants and project manager.  So I will ask you, why isn’t the entire RFI and RFP process focused more on the consultants and project manager that will be responsible for delivering your enterprise software project?  Shouldn’t you be spending more time learning about, interviewing, screening, and grilling the consultants and project manager than about how “great” the SAP partner claims to be?


Contact me today through our site contact form ( ), phone, or e-mail.

Bill Wood
+1 (704) 905 – 5175
Bill Wood contact


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3 Responses to “More on Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI-RFP Processes”

  1. While clients long ago learned how to buy hardware, software, and middleware, they have no clue how to rationally engage for services or to manage service providers. To protect themselves from their own collective ignorance and incompetence in this regard, they are advised to engage third party, objective delivery assurance help in order to keep them and their service providers on track. (Thanks, Bill, for again shedding light into these dark corners)

    • Thank you Michael! I appreciate the sentiment and the feedback… I am encouraged as I recently put out the word that I was going to be looking for a project soon and have seen mountains of requirements that are actually looking for REAL, VERIFIABLE experience!

      I’m encouraged when I get calls from low cost, former outsource heavy firms like WiPro and InfoSys who are only looking for solidly skilled and verifiable talent that the marketplace is beginning to change!

  2. For sure, both of you hit the nail on the head. Michael holds no punches and I like his style. My recent blog post gets at the “collective ignorance” issue Michael points out, but also addresses the other side of the story…consultants and vendors that perpetuate this ignorance…..I call it the “ERP Feeding Frenzy” and the meal is the client.

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