Why Are So Many SAP and JDA Customers Still Using Spreadsheets for Supply Chain Planning?


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SpreadsheetIn a recent article authored by Lora Cecere, she stated that nine manufacturing clients she worked with in the span of a week are all still using spreadsheets for planning—despite the fact that they’ve spent millions on the implementation of SAP and JDA supply chain planning software. So why are few companies using planning software they’ve invested so heavily in?

Per the article, very few companies can use the optimizers within the SAP planning software to run their business. That’s because, according to Lora:

“The software from SAP, with the name of SAP APO, doesn’t meet the line-of-business needs for optimization and visualization. While it met the market requirements for IT integration (and is one of the strongest supply chain planning systems of record),  it has failed to meet the greater business needs for the line-of business user. Yes, the systems are integrated, but the plans are not sufficient.”

Lora went on to describe the situation with JDA, referencing the fact that JDA forced an upgrade when it re-wrote the planning software to a new architecture seven years ago. This presented JDA customers with a clear impetus to migrate to other software, and many did. Lora stated:

“Over the course of the decade, I have watched many JDA implementations be replaced by SAP. The primary JDA solutions still in use are JDA’s transportation software (purchased from i2 Technologies) and the warehouse management software (purchased from Red Prairie). Line-of-business users have found the consolidation of the company difficult. Most of the companies that I speak to are angry that the acquisition has not yielded more.”

Despite the fact that SAP is the market leader based on sales volume, it isn’t providing the kind of leadership or innovation that the user community expects, according to Lora. As a result, frustration has grown, and the opportunities for competitors to step in have increased. Supply chain planning has only increased in importance amid escalating demand volatility and global market complexity. This serves to magnify the marked difference in planning software capabilities. A “rip and replace” approach is not one that most companies want to take, but they want “a system of differentiation that planners could use.” Competitors, then, have an opportunity “to build something that can lay on top of the SAP architecture that can better meet the needs of the line-of-business user.”

All of this has netted one major result, according to the article: the market for SAP supply chain planning software has waned. Lora explains:

“The company has been pushing a Big Data and HANA message, but to no avail. There are few takers.  SAP has also written several applications on the HANA architecture (a database purchased with the Sybase acquisition) that offers the promise of greater scalability and usability. The promises have not translated into a viable product. The company has also stated that the current supply chain planning software, SAP APO, will be re-written on SAP HANA by 2020 making the current software obsolete and requiring a forced upgrade. The user community is not happy. They are pushing back.”

Amidst all of this, major changes have taken place among the leadership at SAP and JDA. Vishal Sikka, the longtime head of technology at SAP has departed the company. Given that Vishal drove the HANA strategy, and he left while SAP is pushing HANA, the impact is significant. And, JDA announced two weeks ago that its CEO, Hamish Brewer, was asked to step down after a 20-year run.

Lora calls for the leaders to innovate, noting:

“There are new kids in town. The market is flush with new best-of-breed vendors. They are not hampered by maintenance upgrades and legacy board issues.”

Steelwedge is proud to count itself among the best-of-breed vendors driving innovation in the planning software space. And, we’re not so new. We have a decade of domain expertise backing our single, cloud Integrated Business Planning (IBP) platform. Steelwedge solutions for sales and operations planning (S&OP) are trusted by many of the world’s leading manufacturers because of our easy-to-use interface, easy-to-access cloud applications and easy-to-configure platform.

What have your experiences been like with planning offerings from SAP, JDA, or other large software companies? Are you still using spreadsheets to handle the heavy lifting? Let us know in the comments.