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14.01.2022

SAP Ariba market behaviour insights

By Brad Stott

Take a look behind the curtain at the latest analysis of our SAP Ariba market behaviour here at bluewaveSELECT

Over the past 5 years, our team has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable global brands. We’ve grown significantly from the inception of the SAP Procurement desk from 2017 through to the beginning of 2022… and the expectation is that we maintain this growth trend throughout the coming year.

All in all, it’s a really exciting time to be overseeing bluewave’s foothold in this market area. An area I’m just as passionate about now as I was when we first decided to set a core focus on the cloud procurement space for SAP half a decade ago.

And I’m sure all the fellow geeks out there will agree with me here when I say numbers, stats and trends are not just exciting, but that they underpin sound business decisions. So to that degree, I thought it might be interesting to dive into an analysis of what the 2021 SAP Ariba recruitment market looked like, and share this openly with you all… because greater insight leads to better decision making right?

Pre vs Post Pandemic

A quick stat that I think is a really strong one and backs up the general market consensus is that year on year from 2020 to 2021 the increase in demand for SAP Ariba skills on our desk here grew by 212% across the EMEA region. A hugely positive indicator that clients have renewed trust in the market, with paused projects being revisited alongside plenty of commitment from new clients wanting to bring their procurement processes into the cloud.

Whilst job levels were at a severe low in 2020, coinciding with with redundancies and early finishing contracts, the market became heavily client driven. Companies could far more easily recruit in demand skills for lower rates/salaries due to increased competition amongst those out of work wanting to find stability within a volatile market. In 2021 there was a total reverse and consultants looking for new jobs started to claw back some negotiating power – especially for “in-demand” SAP Ariba skills.

 

Expanding further and looking a little deeper into the stats I’ve pulled together the individual increases in demand for certain SAP Ariba skills from clients this year compared to last and it’s interesting to see the most in demand align exactly with the hot skill areas predicted at the start of 2021 (full article here for reference).

 

Whilst all skill areas experienced significant rises in demand from our clients… there was clearly a focus on upstream, supply chain collaboration and integration areas. Over 200% increase in demand for Sourcing, Contracts, SLP, SCC and CIG! That’s phenomenal.

It goes without saying, but advice based on figures from my side to anybody wanting to know where to upskill in order to make yourself more desirable would strongly be in the areas highlighted by green percentage increases on the image above. These are the areas that consultancies seem keen to hire into their practices and where clients I work with have focused on for their upcoming projects.

A point of consideration for those who hired in 2021

The so called golden recruitment period for companies in 2021 saw many contractors with strong SAP Ariba project experience convert to a permanent role in a bid to tie down a long term position, to secure a consistent income and in the UK specifically to circumnavigate the complication of the new IR35 regulation changes. Particularly shrewd brands may also have exercised the strategy of low-balling on salaries… thus gaining exceptionally skilled experts for less than they would have needed to pay for them a year earlier.

The big risk now… is that there exists a possibility that some of these consultants may have their heads turned by opportunities to move elsewhere for a higher paying role or an interesting day rate contract outside of IR35. As many as 1 in 3 of those indicated in a recent survey we ran that they would be willing to listen to other offers if they felt it more closely matched their true market valuation.

 

Also of interest perhaps to companies looking to staff their own projects this year; looking at sources for talent available in the market, there’s a very strong concentration of the best skills in favour of the contract pool. This is representative not just in the UK, but throughout the whole of Europe almost to the same level of concentration. And naturally – more niche skill sets can command a higher rate/salary regardless of whether we’re talking contract or perm placement.

Some possible options that consultancies typically consider when looking at staffing hard/rare skills sets within SAP Ariba include:

  • Training Juniors – maybe the cheapest option but comes with some major drawbacks, most notably that it’s impossible to truly get somebody up to speed on the complexity of Ariba in a short space of time to the level they can be confidently placed on a project, and it also requires the onsite expertise to give the training in the first place
  • Hiring Experienced Perm – is great providing time is not a factor in the hiring process and providing favourable market conditions. But in reality the process is very slow and unreliable, especially during a talent shortage where salary expectations are inflated. And then there is the issue of retention which is set to become more of a concern through 2022.
  • Cross Training – often gets suggested but again the complexity of SAP Ariba modules means results usually tend to expose weaknesses.
  • Hire Contractors – providing budgets are approved the fastest way to get experienced, project proven skills is to look at contract resources who have existing expertise is a specific SAP Ariba skill area. Albeit more costly than Perm.
  • Strategic Niche Partnership – experts in industry like bluewave know where to look, have a wider pool within which to tap into and have additional knowledge on who is genuinely good based on references and existing relationships. Additionally, a good recruitment partner will build any costs associated with using them into the clients budget when looking at contract resources so it doesn’t actually cost anything more work with them… as well as there then being an option for longer payment terms and reduced risk/liability as part of the agreement with the recruiter.

 

To wrap up

The long and short of our analysis is that we have entered back into a candidate driven market, that Sourcing, Contracts, SLP, SCC and CIG remain the hot skill areas sought after in 2022, that some companies may be at risk of retention this year, and that strategic partnering with niche SAP Ariba industry experts like bluewave can help attract the best consultants.

If you want to discuss anything in regards to the future of SAP Ariba in relation to your own career, or your own team, then I welcome the opportunity to set up a call. I also welcome an open discussion in the comments section below.

Tyler Watts (Associate Director | Global SAP Delivery | SAP Ariba – bluewaveSELECT)  tyler@bluewaveselect.com – +44(0)1423559559

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