About 10 years ago I was working as Accenture consultant in Europe on an implementation of common data and processes for Sara Lee. This project was implementing ERP and APS systems across 15 operations companies in 10 countries and must have roughly costed a 100 million Euro. Through a vendor selection model it was decided to use SAP R/3 and the then little mature APO as enabling systems. At that time there were four main criteria and a weighting agreed with the client.
- Partner characteristics (40%)
- Technical characteristics (20%)
- Product/package characteristics (25%)
- Business requirements (15%)
From advanced planning and scheduling (APS) perspective, the shortlist was SAP/APO, Manugistics and i2. As you can see from the 2000 Gartner quadrant from that time, i2 was still seen as the only APS visionary. Interestingly enough, a couple of quarters later during the APS vendor selection, there was no APS visionaries anymore in the Gartner quadrant as SAP put their massive development team behind APO to catch up. The Sara Lee decision board decided that, although the package and functionality from i2 and Manugistics was superior, SAP APO provided a better long term strategic choice due to a stable one partner choice and package integration.
Sara Lee was right to go for the long term view! Ten years later we see that from the 3 dominant APS players 12 years ago (i2, Manugistics, SAP/APO) only SAP is left. i2 and Manugistics both got acquired by JDA. It shows that being a visionary doesn’t mean having a bright future. Maybe that’s the reason that since 2002 the top right box of the Gartner quadrant has been staying empty!
Since then, APS has been imbedded in most medium to large companies who are now looking for the next enablers to further support integrated business processes like S&OP. Who are they turning too? Who are the S&OP visionaries and who would be on the shortlist for a global S&OP system roll out?
Newer solutions like Steelwedge or Kinaxis with cloud based and SAAS solutions and S&OP specific data structures? Or JDA and Oracle who have apparently the Oliver Wight process methodology integrated? Or if you have to spend a lot of money, would you go for SAP with a clunky S&OP solution, but a partner who will most likely still be there in 2022?