SAP and Zanders: In partnership we trust

March 2024
8 min read

Collaboration, trust and growth, how we’re celebrating 25 years of partnership with the market-leading technology platform.

Our technology partnerships are core, foundational elements of our risk and treasury transformations at Zanders. For us to guide our clients through their digitalization journeys and keep pace with technology advancements relies on the right relationships (non-commercial of course, so we maintain our independence) with the best solution providers in our field. To stand the test of time, these relationships need to be mutually advantageous, and this takes both parties to be engaged, committed to continual learning, and driven by a shared vision. Our work with SAP embodies these qualities. And in demonstration of the success of this alliance, in 2024 we’re celebrating 25 years of partnership with the market-leading technology platform.  

To mark this anniversary milestone, we invited Christian Mnich, VP, Head of Solution Management, Treasury and Working Capital Management at SAP to join Zanders partners Judith van Paassen and Laura Koekkoek to reflect on how the relationship has developed in this time. As they shared anecdotes and considered the unique characteristics that have shaped this partnership, three key themes emerged – collaboration, trust, and growth.  

1. Collaboration: A meeting of minds 

From day one, there was an enthusiasm from both companies to collaborate and share expertise. Zanders’ first encounter with SAP was at a trade fair in 1998. Back then, Zanders was four years young and a relative newcomer to the treasury advisory world. SAP was an established standard in business processing software but at this point still a single-product, ERP solution. As the modern technologies lead for Zanders, Judith van Paassen visited the SAP stand at the exhibition curious to see how the platform could extend to support the work Zanders was doing with corporate treasury departments.  

“SAP was present at that fair with an early version (2.2F) of the system,” Judith recounts. “I asked some in depth questions at the time about functionalities. Can SAP do this? Can SAP do that? After some further discussion and exchange of knowledge, the idea to join forces was brought up.” 

On the basis of this trade fair encounter, SAP and Zanders together started looking into how the system could be customised for treasury, specifically at the time for the Dutch market. 

2. Trust: The backbone of successful partnership 

The partnership initially focused on the Netherlands, with Judith regularly spending time with SAP colleagues, working with the team on how to position the treasury system to the market and helping them to demonstrate the potential of the solution to support corporate treasury processes.  

“It was a very close partnership between the Netherlands and Zanders – where Zanders and SAP worked closely together and were organizing seminars to inform the market on the capabilities in SAP,” Christian remembers. “This model was very unique back then and the partnership model is still working very well for SAP and their partners.”  

These early days formed a backbone for the partnership, embedding a commitment to honest and open collaboration into the core of the relationship.  

“It’s all been built from trust,” Christian emphasizes. “When building a long-lasting partnership, you need to have open dialogue – on both sides. It’s very important to us as a solution provider that when we roll out new solutions, we get honest feedback. We’ve had lots of sessions with Zanders over the years where you’ve provided this honest feedback. By doing this, you’ve helped us to scale our solutions, develop new solutions and increase the adoption of our services.” “This also comes back in our co-development of regional solutions for local requirements like the connectivity between eBAgent and MBC in the APJ region” says Laura. 

3. Growth: Pioneering new environments

As the partnership has expanded from the Netherlands and Benelux to the UK, parts of the DACH region, the US and APJ, it has provided a launchpad for important growth opportunities for both businesses. For Zanders, it’s empowered our team with a much deeper understanding of the role and potential of innovation in our market, enabling us to take a proactive role in guiding our clients through transformation projects.  

“We’re consultants – we like to give advice to our clients – but we also really want to implement solutions with our clients,” says Judith. “To do this, we need to not only look at the little details within treasury, but at the end-to-end process and architecture. Our knowledge of treasury in combination with our experience with SAP technology has definitely made us more attractive to expand our services to clients in Asia, the US and APJ. It’s has also allowed us to take a more proactive role in driving large-scale treasury transformations for our clients.” 

Christian agreed that the partnership has also been an enabler of growth for SAP, highlighting three transformation projects undertaken jointly by the partnership as key moments:

  • Firstly, AkzoNobel. It was the first treasury transformation the partnership worked on where SAP was implemented to replace a best of breed TMS system in the European environment. The size and complexity of this project made it a blueprint for future transformations. In particular, demonstrating the benefits of breaking down product siloes to add treasury capabilities to the SAP ERP system in a more integrated way.  
  • Secondly, BP. Although not as large and extensive as other projects, it’s notable for its strategic importance. This project represented the first entry into the UK for SAP, paving the way into an important growth market and opening up new opportunities in other regions. 
  • Thirdly, the implementation of the SAP S/4HANA treasury system for Sony. As a truly global transformation project, the scale and nature of the project (especially given the timing with the pandemic) meant there were many challenges. The success of the deployment is a testament to the strength of the partnership, with the teams working together closely to develop the best solution for the client.

Together, these projects show the relentless commitment from both partners to challenge boundaries, see the bigger picture and prioritize client needs.  

“We’ve seen a willingness from Zanders to expand their view from core treasury into other areas,” Christian explains. “This is very important for us from an SAP point of view. Smaller, niche or more boutique partners – they don't leave their comfort zone, whereas there's always interest from Zanders to learn new things. We appreciate how you try to understand the challenges before your customers run into these challenges.”  

25 years – A celebration of collaboration, trust, and growth 

What our 25 years working with SAP shows us is the success of our partnership comes down to how we work together as a team. This means trusting each other, being collaborative, and relies on both parties being willing to challenge the status quo to pursue ambitious growth. What SAP and Zanders have accomplished together already may have been ground-breaking, but it feels like we’ve still only just scratched the surface of what we can potentially achieve together. For this reason, our journey together will continue long into the future – at pace. 

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