Earlier this week SAP (SAP) co-CEO Leo Apotheker struck out at the consulting practices of Accenture (ACN) and IBM (IBM), essentially accusing the two companies of sending so-called “experts” who have no idea what they’re doing to perform the difficult task of integrating SAP software into businesses. He went on to propose consultants should be certified to prove their competence.
Leo needs to blame someone: SAP implementations are notorious for their difficulty and cost overruns, and last month jeweler Shane Co. blamed difficulties with SAP’s software as partly responsible for the company’s bankruptcy.
But it looks like Leo wasn’t just mouthing off: SAP just announced it was certifying EDS, a division of HP (HPQ), as the first company to implement its own “Run SAP” systems integration methodology.
A risky strategy for SAP. It’s admirable the German ERP giant is trying to do something about their software’s poor reputation. And some of SAP’s consulting partners — who make money hand-over-fist by deploying untrained new hires to client sites as SAP “experts” — certainly share a good deal of blame for failed SAP implementations.
But if SAP gets serious about telling clients to prefer “certified consultants” like HP’s EDS, longtime SAP partners like Accenture won’t take the news lying down. A lot of companies only decide on ERP software after firms like IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, etc recommend it to them. Whether any one consulting firm has a track record of fouling up SAP implementations is besides the point. If the consultants feel they’re getting the cold shoulder from SAP, they’ll just direct their clients to competitors like Oracle (ORCL) instead, who will be happy to take away SAP’s business.