Everyone offering a modern Source-to-Contract (S2C) or Procure-to-Pay (P2P) system capable of running in the cloud and supporting true multi-tenancy claims they can offer improved maintenance and support SLAs. This is based on the premise that because they only have one version of their product to support, they can typically track down and fix a bug quicker than providers with multiple versions of on-premise ERPs. As a first step, it is important to establish whether they really provide multi-tenancy. If the provider claims to have multi-tenancy, but needs a separate instance for each customer in an ASP environment, they will not be any more efficient than a large provider of on-premise solutions that has figured out how to apply updates in rapid succession. Secondly, their efficiency will only be realized with bugs that occur entirely within their own codebase.
Unfortunately, this is not always where things go wrong. When multiple systems are being used, there are a host of areas where the systems can break down. Often, problems are uncovered when data is being imported or exported, which must happen frequently when separate S2C and P2P systems are in place. In this scenario, assuming one provider doesn’t blame the other provider for the problem, the issue will not be resolved until either both providers get together to figure out a solution or a third party with data integration expertise is brought in. Either way it results in delays and additional cost.
In the best case scenario, each provider will be able to provide a decent SLA to cover a subset of the likely problem situations. When a bug is entirely within the first provider’s S2C system or entirely within the second provider’s P2P system, SLAs can perform as intended. Alternately, if the provider is large and you happen to be using the ‘right’ ERP system, you may be able to get a decent third-party SLA for when integration errors occur between the S2C system and the ERP or when the integration error occurs between the P2P system and the ERP. However, when things go wrong in the connectivity between any two of the systems, it will be necessary to arrange a three-way conference call between your technical people and both of your providers’ technical people. Very few procurement professionals have the time or desire to do that!
However, if you have an integrated S2S solution no integrations between S2C and P2P are required. The S2S system can even be set up to serve as the data master for suppliers, contracts, and other supply management data, which means that even if the integration between the S2S and ERP systems breaks down, it will not prevent users from doing their job.
Since almost every bug or issue that arises will be contained within the S2S system, the provider will be able to give you higher level SLAs at a lower price. Furthermore, if you choose to go on-premise or single instance (as opposed to multi-tenant) because the provider will not have to worry about breaking integration points during upgrades, maintenance can take place on your schedule and happen worry-free.
Thank you for coming with us through this series on the advantages of native S2S solutions. If you are interested in more information on this topic, we suggest you check out this White Paper.