People are your supply chain


With people the essential component in the supply chain of SAP partner and consulting organisations, Adrian Everett argues now is the time to get your resourcing plans in place for 2016.

As we approach the end of 2015, many SAP partners and consulting firms are planning for the 2016 fiscal year.  While boosting an organisation’s sales is always high on the agenda, there is an increasing need to focus on supply chain optimisation to maximise the benefits of any sales growth planned.

The past 18-24 months has seen some significant new licence deals coming from all regions of Australia – both greenfields implementations and projects from the increasingly mature SAP customer base.

Whether it be driven by HANA, Ariba, Fiori, SuccessFactors, hybris or a multitude of other SAP acquisitions and technology developments, there is an increasing demand across Australia for high quality SAP resources both permanent and contract.

As an SAP partner or consulting organisation, the key to success is in your people.  Not just people to carry out the works required in an ever-broadening suite of SAP technologies, but people of high calibre to mitigate the risks associated with unforeseen challenges as new technology solutions are deployed.

In essence, the supply of people is the number one focus of the SAP partner’s supply chain.

In the lead-up to the 2016 fiscal year, now is the time to give consideration to your people supply chain and the channel mix of sourcing solutions.

The essence of the people supply chain comes down to three key factors:

  1. Quality
  2. Time
  3. Cost


As SAP partners and consulting organisations, we are responsible for driving significant business transformations to achieve efficiencies across large enterprises. The ongoing engagement with a customer is dependent on our ability to continually demonstrate the quality of the engagement, and consideration should be given not just to finding people resources who can complete the project, but those who can provide the level of confidence and capability to an organisation that will lead to further engagements and repeat business.

It is an unfortunate reality that nearly all professional services organisations have at least one customer engagement that hasn’t worked out, and this can be for a multitude of reasons. Having been in the industry for over 15 years, however, the number one reason I hear as to why a project has gone south is people. Thinking of a project that hasn’t delivered for your organisation, what has that cost in correcting the project, restoring consumer confidence, market reputation, management overheads, or in worse situation, legal fees or damages?

Quality needs to be a factor not just to get the job done, but to mitigate the risk to your organisation in circumstances where it’s not smooth sailing.


We’re all familiar with the scenario: the customer takes three months or more to evaluate your tender. Negotiations take another three months to finalise, before the customer signs the contract.  The customer expects to put faces to the resumes submitted in the tender six months ago. Tomorrow!

So how does your people supply chain manage this effectively for you, while maintaining the quality factor? Gone are the days when organisations carry a bench of SAP resources to roll on at short notice.

It is essential that delivery time be given a priority in considering your people supply chain.  What is the cost to your existing team if they are covering gaps in a project team due to delays in people supply?  Worse yet, what is the opportunity cost to the customer if a project is delayed and they cannot realise the benefits of the project within the promised timeframes?

How does your people supply chain address the time factor?  Do you have a specialist people provider who can assist in workforce planning, highlight skills gaps, identify difficult or short supply skill sets, and map the roll-on of permanent resources at a future (and sometimes undefined) time?


If it’s not evident already, cost of the people supply chain is not just a consideration in achieving the margins required to make an individual project profitable.

Compromise in the cost of your people supply chain is to directly affect quality and time, which can correlate to increased costs in other areas of your professional services organisation.

Consider the cost of each people supply channel available to your organisation, which typically includes:

  • Internal recruiter,
  • Internal referral,
  • Generalist recruitment agency, and
  • Specialist recruitment agency.

Internal recruiter

Increasingly consulting firms are appointing internal recruiters (or teams) in an effort to reduce spend on recruitment agencies.  At BT People, we fully support this model recognising the need for our clients to maintain a low cost base where possible.  However a practice we have seen emerging is to incentivise internal recruitment consultants to not engage any recruitment agencies in an effort to save cost.

Time and time again, we have seen this significantly compromise the quality of the person employed, not due to any fault of the internal recruitment function, but simply due to the limited bandwidth an internal recruitment function has in covering a large and complex marketplace.  By incentivising internal recruiters not to utilise recruitment agencies, your organisation may be saving on recruitment fees, but this cost and more will be added back to your business in other areas from management, reputation and even legal in the worst case scenario.

BT People recommends that the internal recruitment function of a professional services firm be established as a direct competitor to the recruitment agencies engaged.  The internal recruitment function should compete to provide better resources that a recruitment agency is providing and when they do, the business should of course take that resource on board.  However when a recruitment agency provides the better resource, I am constantly amazed that organisations become concerned at a mediocre recruitment fee that could ultimate mitigate risk of costs outlined earlier in this article.

Internal referral

Particularly in the days of business social media, LinkedIn being the market leading example, an internal referral scheme is crucial to your people supply chain.

However, give consideration to how the internal referral scheme in your organisation is structured. Is it optimised to deliver the referrals in a manner which truly assists the organisation?  Is the wider employee base truly aware of the requirements of each project in order to be able to address the requirements of an open position?

It’s not simply a matter of putting a note out to staff saying, ‘We’ll give you $5k for successful referrals’, no matter how eloquently you deliver the message.

BT People recommends that the internal referral become a sourcing strategy of the internal recruiter.  Use the internal referral as a tool to provide the internal recruiter a competitive edge against the agency recruiter.  By structuring this efficiently, the internal referrals are assessed objectively before being sent to project managers or leaders within the business and a significantly more qualified submission can be made to the hiring managers in due course. Consider the performance incentives of the internal recruiter to allow for the costs involved in an internal referral scheme.

The internal referral scheme, when implemented efficiently, can provide a professional services firm with its own agency recruitment capability and this will drive greater success out of your internal recruitment function.

Generalist recruitment agency

BT People is a specialist recruitment agency, and as such, of course take my comments here as absolutely biased!

A generalist recruitment agency will bring with it the promise of larger database numbers, extensive geographic coverage and of course, a depth of resources to deliver the solutions.  Better yet, they’ll bring you all that at a lower cost than a specialist recruitment agency.

But consideration must be given to the ability to truly understand the requirements of your organisation, as well as to the ability to deliver on both quality and time factors outlined above.

You’ll save money on your recruitment costs, maybe, but at what cost to the rest of your business and the rest of your employees?

Specialist recruitment agency

Experts in SAP resourcing, knowledge and experience on SAP projects, extensive ongoing relationships with the wider SAP community, relationships maintained with high quality SAP resources across key skillsets, mapping of talent availability now and in the future, understanding of you as a customer organisation and an understanding of your project engagements: these are just a few of the benefit of engaging a specialist recruitment agency for your people supply chain.

The use of a specialist recruitment agency on a contingent basis does not add any cost into your people supply chain – unless they deliver superior resources than your internal recruitment function, at which point you must consider whether a recruitment fee is a worthy cost to get the best resources for your success and ultimately your customer’s success. When you consider the quality and time factors outlined above, a recruitment fee is significantly less than potential costs to the business of the wrong hiring decision.

Adrian Everett has over 15 years of SAP industry experience in Australia and is an expert on best practice resourcing strategies for professional services organisations. Considering your people supply chain process and channels for 2016?  BT People provides best practice recruitment process consulting and is available to you at For further information contact Adrian Everett on 0414 417 786 or

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