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SAP SRM seeks lowest bidders

SAP describes its new supplier relationship product (SRM) as sexy, saying its live auctions and graphical representations will thrill users.

A newly enhanced version of SAP's supplier relationship management (SRM) product will allow companies to hold live auctions with potential suppliers, accepting bids in real time and forcing more intense competition among suppliers.

These upgrades represent the third generation of SAP's SRM products, first launched in January 2002. The system addresses the complete cycle of supplier relationships, from sourcing and procurement to supply and management.

SAP says they have seen recent traction in this market, with reference customers that include the German-based ROI giant, Bertelsmann AG, and Shell Oil.

"I'm the last person to push another acronym, but SRM is really catching on," said SAP's Faheem Ahmed, head of market strategy for SRM.

The highlights of the new SAP SRM release are its adaptive user interface; content consolidation capabilities that are embedded within SAP's new Collaborative Master Data Management (CMDM) product; an enhanced services procurement feature; and a supplier portal.

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"We've embedded new capabilities, new applications," Ahmed said. "And it looks very, very sexy," he added, referring to the graphics that accompany live auctions and the user interfaces that can be modified to "the specific location and the job you are trying to do."

SAP's SRM product can be used to determine, among other things, whether a company is spending money on the same product in two areas of its operations. The SRM software is designed to spot the redundancies and help estimate how the product price could be better negotiated with a supplier. An example SAP likes to give is the photo-processing shop that orders chlorine both for its lab work and for cleaning the floors.

A theme central to the SAP SRM enhancements is connecting suppliers to the process.

"We've had customers using SRM procurement before," but now, Ahmed said, "We can let the supplier do their own data entry. That's a big change."

Given its current push in the midmarket, where many large vendors are focusing their energies these days, SAP is reminding customers that no one is too small for its SRM solution.

"You can start off with 50 users," Ahmed explained. "We can package is with four professional users, let's say, and 46 as casual users. The great thing is that it really does scale up. Shell is deploying the same solution, with 96,000 users."

The product is slated for release in June.

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