If you take a look at last years ‘Magic Quadrant‘ report from Gartner, you see that ERP vendors such as SAP and Oracle are firmly in the challengers box when compared to vendors like Kenexa and Taleo. If you look at the report for Employee Performance Management software in 2009, you’d see that SAP is listed as a niche player compared to others.
In the past, when shopping for solutions in the EPM or ATS space, considering going with the SAP solution wasn’t a good option at all. It was ugly and didn’t work well. Nobody wanted to use it, especially when compared with the slick offerings from the leaders of the pack. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I have seen what SAP has done with their offerings and where they are now. After having had the opportunity to not only see what other organizations have done with SAP’s revised offerings under their recent releases, but also to see the successes that some of their users have had, I’m not sure that SAP, for one, is trailing so far behind anymore. In partnering with Nakisa, SAP has put forth an EPM offering that I think is in some cases better than anything the leaders have put out there.
EPM isn’t the only place either, they’ve made leaps and bounds in the ATS space as well. A paraphrased quote I heard at SAPPHIRE from the director of recruiting for a large organization was that, with the changes that SAP has made, they’ve taken the solution from being somethings we could use to something we want to use. That says a lot about a product – if the people who have to live in the system want to use it, they must be doing something right.
Is SAP still a niche player? Sure, they will always be – if you aren’t an SAP shop you aren’t going to go out and implement SAP’s EPM as a stand-alone solution to bolt onto your HRMS, but for SAP shops, they are quickly becoming a more attractive, if not obvious, answer. Do they have all the bells and whistles Taleo does in the ATS space? Maybe not, but since these offerings from SAP are offered as part of the HCM suite, you’ve already paid for it in most cases. When you do a gap analysis between your requirements and what SAP can give you, I think you’ll find there aren’t many gaps with the new versions. If there are, for the cost of one of the ‘leader’ systems companies are finding more and more that they can make it work in SAP.
The question is though, is SAP too late to the table? I don’t think so. SAP is the largest software vendor in town, so they won’t suffer the way the specialized players will for having to wait for business and lose it to the likes of Kenexa, SuccessFactors or Taleo. Depending on what you read, most organizations look to replace systems every 5 to 10 years. When they do integration will win out and there won’t be a compelling business reason to keep these functions out of SAP any longer. And for those of you that haven’t gone outside yet, I encourage you to take a good hard look at what SAP can do for you and ask yourself, what could I do with the money that I’d save?