Ariba is booming right now. So much so, in our office, we have an entire desk focused on it. In April, myself (EB) and our dedicated Ariba expert Stephen Earl (SE) will be attending SAP Ariba Live in Amsterdam so today I wanted to get his opinion on what he thinks is in store for the SAP ARIBA market...

EB: Today we’re talking about Ariba in 2018 and why it’s so hard to find good Ariba consultants. Firstly, could you tell everyone a bit about what you do?

SE: When I joined Lawrence Harvey, I opted to specialize in one area which was SAP Ariba – the reasons being this was a new cloud technology, I recognised the gap in the market/demand for consultants and also took a real interest in the technology. 

EB: SAP Ariba Live Las Vegas was happening just last week, we are going to be attending the conference in Amsterdam next month, what are you expecting to be the focus this year?

SE: I’m expecting to see more new technology being released and explained, new modules/bolt-ons that haven’t been released yet that will keep making the system more attractive and easy to use. I’m expecting to hear more about SAP Ariba Snap – the new “baby” version of Ariba for mid-size companies – which is expected to take just 3 months to implement.

EB: Great. You’ve been recruiting in this market for a while now – and what I’ve seen have been pretty busy whilst doing so – why do you think there is such a gap in the market and simply not enough Ariba Consultants?

SE: Firstly, SAP only bought Ariba in 2012 meaning in retrospect to other SAP areas, it’s a fairly new technology. This means that consultants who might be strong on-premise with SAP SRM or P2P haven’t necessary moved on to gain project experience in Ariba.

Now consultants are starting to realise that the old technology will be de-commissioned in 2025 and therefore have started to get training in Ariba. There’s now a stalemate going on where customers are looking at implementing Ariba are expecting to hire consultants with hands-on project experience, but due to a shortage of consultants in this space there is always a demand for candidates with real end to end project experience.

EB: Where do you see the market going as a result of this?

SE: It’s going to go one of two ways, clients will have to start considering candidates with training experience and an extensive background in SRM/P2P but no Ariba project experience, or there might continue to be a shortage in the market and the day rates of those with project experience will keep increasing.

EB: How are clients overcoming the challenge of the shortage of Ariba candidates?

SE: As clients are mainly searching for candidates with project implementation experience, typically they’re moving away from choosing local candidates and bringing candidates in from other countries/regions. Clients are even going as far as to bringing in freelancers from other continents due to the lack of local talent.

EB: When a customer comes to you now, how do you recommend they deliver and find the right people to help with that project?

SE: Finding a good consultancy is the best place to start. SAP Ariba themselves have the strongest internal capacity to deliver projects, they have the best reputation and the best bench of reliable Ariba resources. Over the past 12 months we’ve also seen Capgemini and Deloitte build up there Ariba practice extensively to try and match their service offering in other areas. There are also some strong niche vendors like Apsolut or Excelerateds2p – both who have great project delivery experience but also feel the same challenges around volume.

My suggestion would be: find a consultancy that you click with and have them to deliver the bulk of the work. On top of that it’s important to work closely with an agency to bring in independent, unbiased freelancers to help with niche areas (such as Guided Buying) and build internally capability. This can ease the costs of a consulting partner, keep un-biased opinions on the team and prepare future internal capability post Go-Live.

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Right now SAP Ariba seem to be selling more licences than the market can deliver. At Lawrence Harvey we advise candidates to start up-skilling as early as possible; training courses, certifications and take any hands opportunities possible.

For customers, it's important to remember that successful projects will utilise resources from a number of avenues. Find contractors to ease short term burdens, find partners who can work in the way you like and up-skill the internal team as soon as possible.

For specific market insights or more information on our Ariba desk, get in touch with the SAP Team at Lawrence Harvey to learn more.