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For many ASUG members, SAP’s least well-known cloud applications acquisition is likely its 2014 purchase of vendor management system (VMS) provider Fieldglass. In the more than two years since that buy, SAP has invested in building out functionality and integration, as well as scaling the VMS software globally, according to SAP Fieldglass President Rob Brimm.
“One of the key things for Fieldglass since the acquisition [by SAP] has been the rate of growth,” says Brimm. He adds that the SAP division has grown its headcount by more than 100 employees in the last year. Brimm was speaking at the SAP Fieldglass Best Practices Summit in Chicago on Thursday.
Fieldglass has opened or expanded offices in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, and the U.K. since the acquisition. The SAP division has also established new data centers in both the Netherlands and Germany, which Brimm says is to support its current multinational customer base.
Working to Solve Integration Questions
One key focus for Fieldglass as it has grown under SAP has been to try to reduce the cost of integration whether with its parent company’s software or with many other vendors. Brimm says Fieldglass integrates with master data in SAP systems and Oracle systems including PeopleSoft. Even SAP’s pure cloud competitors still receive some Fieldglass integration love.
“Workday is big in our customer base, and we will continue to support Workday integration,” says Brimm. “We are here to be an open cloud platform and to be able to integrate in any systems you require.”
As for SAP’s cloud products, Brimm says Fieldglass has off-the-shelf master data and purchase-to-pay (P2P) functionality, which he describes as “close to plug-and-play [which will] certainly reduce cost.” SAP is offering a first set of integrations between its SuccessFactors cloud HCM and Fieldglass at the master data level. More integrations are coming as part of what SAP calls its “Total Workforce Strategy”—enabling users to have visibility across all workers, both internal and external.
Who Uses Fieldglass?
The question of who actually manages the procurement of external workers is one that many companies might not even be able to answer about their own organization. Fieldglass analyzed its customer data and determined that hiring managers are the overwhelming majority of its users—83 percent, in fact.
“We are seeking to provide a simple user experience to all folks touching the system,” says Arun Srinivasan, SVP of strategy and customer operations at SAP Fieldglass. “The hiring manager and business users have moved from the fringes of the program right to the center.”
With the business users in mind, Fieldglass has made changes to its user interface, making tasks such as creating a new role or requesting a new worker one click away from a hiring manager’s main page [as shown in the Fieldglass screenshot below].
Optimizing Worker Categories
One challenge that companies may face is how to categorize its external workers since each organization may have different terms to describe the same position. That tendency creates a challenge for Fieldglass, which is striving to include pre-built categories in its software to help cut down on some work for hiring managers and other users.
“Categories are a fundamental interest of mine,” says Vish Baliga, CTO at SAP Fieldglass. He explains that the vendor dug into its customer data to identify the top five most used categories and to find common patterns within those categories. Fieldglass then determined that every capability isn’t needed for each category, so it is building best practices for the top categories.
Another way in which Baliga hopes to make category identification easier is by use of machine learning. For example, when a customer searches for a brand-new worker with the same skillset as an existing contractor, Fieldglass automatically recognizes that action and pulls up the original statement of work.
SAP recently expanded its integration with Microsoft to include Outlook 365, and Fieldglass is already seeing a benefit from that via direct access to Fieldglass statement of work items in Outlook.
In the past, statement of work item notifications received via email would come with a link to the Fieldglass system. With the new Microsoft partnership, Fieldglass is able to embed functionality directly into the email—so if action needs to be taken on statement of work items, it can be done without ever leaving Outlook.
“It’s a very rich and powerful example of what we can do by collaborating with Microsoft,” says Baliga. This functionality is expected to be generally available in the Q3 2016 Fieldglass release.
Connecting to BusinessObjects Cloud
SAP has indicated one goal for its unified BI and analytics BusinessObjects Cloud is to be able to embed functionality of the relatively young analytics offering into other SAP cloud products. As an example of that, Fieldglass will have APIs that feed data directly into BusinessObjects Cloud.
Baliga demonstrates that analytics can be applied to identifying why a certain supplier is always exceeding spend. Using BusinessObjects Cloud capabilities, a customer could drill down to specific managers and the rating—one to five based on how their skills match the job—of their external workers. Analytics might show that certain combinations of managers and skillsets lead to greater spend, helping the company identify where overspending is occurring. [see screenshot below].
“That’s the power of [analytics on] HANA and machine learning,” Baliga says. “Now it has gone from [blaming the supplier] to what is going on with a supervisor.”
Enough to Pique ASUG Member Interest?
Fieldglass isn’t new to every SAP customer—many were using the two vendors together before the acquisition. But there is still a lot of room to grow within the SAP customer and ASUG member base for Fieldglass.
Many of these innovations are down the road, with no definite release date, but will the promise of them, along with greater integration, be enough to get core SAP ERP customers interested in the cloud vendor management product?