“Do It Yourself” SAP B2B eCommerce Is Not a Sound Business Strategy

Written July 16th, 2012 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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In the modern day IT organization, “Do It Yourself” thinking is akin to magical thinking.  With the complexities of knitting together complicated stacks of technology, compounded by the pressures of keeping the business systems current and operational in the face of limited resources, backlogs only grow larger and larger.  You may have the best of intentions to get all of that work done…just like all of those books that I bought from Amazon that are stacking up on my headboard, including the six volume set of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time…but somehow the real world always gets in the way.

Over the years I’ve met many an IT Executive who conducted a thorough due diligence of all of the available solutions to their organization’s SAP Integrated B2B eCommerce challenges.  Unfortunately, many of them have concluded that it would be faster, cheaper and safer if they took full responsibility for the entire solution themselves as opposed to partnering with us.

So how did they do?  This past week I decided to conduct a retrospective.

Before I review the results of my investigation, for the record, every single one of our clients (Drive Medical, Office Relief, Blount etc.)  goes into production within 30-90 days of our Project Initiation…without exception!  That’s because ALL of our clients fall into the category of “results driven individuals” as opposed to DIYers (do-it-yourselfers).  They know it’s far more important to bring business value to their organizations than it is to win the “I did it myself” trophy and grow the size of their IT fiefdom.

In order not to embarrass anyone, I’m not going to use real names of companies or people.

Case 1 – International Sporting Goods Company

Their first contact with us was in September of 2010.  Their “hair was on fire”!  They wanted an immediate solution to their SAP integrated B2B ecommerce challenges in the UK before the end of Q1 2011.  The symptoms were classic.  Their dealer network was forced to place and track orders via phone/fax/email.  Everyone was suffering…clients, salespeople, customer service representatives…from the inefficiencies.  22 MONTHS later, here is their status:

“We prioritised our B2C over our B2B. First site goes live in Q3, and the B2B goes live in Jan/Feb. We’re all pretty pumped about it.  The journey has been long, i just hope the reward is worth the trip.”

In other words, the “urgent” problem will end up taking 27 months to solveif they go into production then.  They could have been in production in 3 months with us.  That would have given them 24 months of real business value for their corporation and their customers.  Instead, they chose to invest in their image. I  wonder how the UK business feels about it?

Case 2 – US Regional Building Supply Company

This DIY case is probably the most egregious of my examples since we all but designed their Magento SAP integration strategy for them during our many demonstrations and discussions.  Nevertheless, we met them in  May of 2011 at SAPPHIRE and by June they had decided to build their own integration between Magento and SAP.  13 Months later, here is an announcement on their website for the pending launch of their new eCommerce capabilities.  And that New Catalog that is online?…it’s a pdf file.

Now to be fair to these guys, I don’t think they really understand what the value of B2B eCommerce would be to their customer base.  From that perspective…without the wolves beating down your door…I can see how you can drag your feet on this project.  More than likely though, just like those DIY home plumbing projects, things always turn out to be more complicated than they first appeared.

Bottom line?  Unless you are a pure play online retailer, why would you want to go into the software business and build your own eCommerce website?  Stick to being a manufacturer/distributor and focus on making sure that SAP supports your business the way you want it to work.

Oh…and it’s never too late to become a reformed DIY’er :-).

Sam“Do It Yourself” SAP B2B eCommerce Is Not a Sound Business Strategy, 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating