“Most companies ignore the inherent power of their supply chain. At T-Mobile, it is a vital part of the customer experience and enables us to deliver on our brand promise.”
— Erik LaValle, Senior Director of Product and Technology for Supply Chain, T-Mobile
For Senior Director of Product and Technology Erik LaValle, leveraging his company’s supply chain to deliver an exemplary customer experience is all about the processes, people, and partners that make the brand promise a reality. He explained, “Our supply chain is a vital part of the customer experience at T-Mobile. It’s how the commitment to our customers — delivering what they want, when they want, and where they want it — really comes to life.”
In addition to being a leading telecom company, T-Mobile is also one of the largest and fastest-growing mobile-first banking platforms in the U.S. and operates more than 7,500 retail outlets. Servicing these different lines of business has necessitated customizing core vendor packages, each with the potential to introduce unnecessary complications and a loss of agility.
Offsetting the possibility of compromised performance requires an infrastructure that has been architected for dexterity and speed.
“We’ve established a digital foundation that allows us to control our own destiny and to do that in a very fast and agile manner. Given the complexity of our business, we’ve also focused on digital development to supplement our core systems with approaches that enable us to dynamically meet the constantly changing business needs,” noted LaValle.
The robust environment has been invaluable for T-Mobile. When the COVID-19 pandemic created a rapid shift in consumer expectations on how to safely interact with retailers, LaValle was able to rely on his supply chain to power significant enhancements in T-Mobile’s service delivery.
“The importance of keeping people safe helped crystallize our priorities around the customer experience initiatives we had planned in our roadmap. We’ve been able to accelerate many new capabilities like the ‘buy online, pick up in store’ experience, as well as other contactless options like ship from store and same-day delivery,” explained LaValle.
A critical component of the company’s supply chain portfolio is a heavily customized set of SAP instances used as the system of record for key financial and operational functions. Managing the SAP ecosystem demands highly responsive, deeply knowledgeable levels of support.
Lavelle described the result of one of the regular evaluations performed by his team across each T-Mobile provider: “We assessed the quality of service we were getting from SAP and the advancement of its technology versus the cost. We looked for a fair exchange of value in terms of the aging of our platform and the support we were getting, compared to what was available in the marketplace. It became very clear that moving to a third-party support provider offered a compelling alternative for us.”
The move to outsource support for SAP was not made lightly. LaValle emphasized, “When I think about business continuity, trusting an external partner is a hugely critical decision for us. The technology our third-party provider supports is incredibly expansive in terms of business impact and the breadth of operations it touches. It involves nearly every aspect of our supply chain — from procurement and inventory management to business intelligence and finance.”
Partnering for Success
Since its headline-grabbing merger with rival Sprint in 2020, T-Mobile has undertaken extensive restructuring. “Despite the magnitude and complexity of the integration, right from ‘day one,’ everything turned on flawlessly. Whether you were a legacy Sprint or T-Mobile customer, every one of our locations has been able to provide a seamless service experience,” recalled LaValle. “Having the right infrastructure in place — and the right support — made this possible.”
He added, “I love that I work for a company that is obsessed with delivering an exceptional customer experience. Having the right partners gives us the confidence to invest our attention in fulfilling this promise and the opportunity to deliver new capabilities.”
Rimini Street: Mitigating the Risk
The decision to partner with independent, third-party support provider Rimini Street represented a compelling value proposition for T-Mobile. “The strength of the Rimini Street team made it possible to support the significant customizations that SAP struggled to handle,” noted LaValle. “We get everything and more that we had from SAP at half the cost — it really was an unassailable proposal!
“The executive reviews with Rimini Street are a great investment of my time. We have a stellar team that always frames information in a way that is assessable and absorbable. Of all our vendors, Rimini Street does one of the very best jobs at maintaining the right cadence,” remarked LaValle. “The breadth of experience that Rimini Street brings has definitely mitigated risk for T-Mobile.”
He concluded, “It has been a very gratifying experience to be supported by a vendor of this caliber.”
- Shifted workload balance from daily operations to launching special initiatives: Outsourcing the oversight of support for SAP created bandwidth to focus on customer experience enhancements.
- Support for SAP customizations minimized financial and operational impact: Independent, third-party support addressed deficiencies created by application vendor shortcomings.
- Reduced risk for business-critical application suite: The breadth of experience of the Rimini Street team enhanced business continuity and mitigation of financial and operational exposure.
Video interview with T-Mobile IT leader Erik LaValle, who discusses the benefits of switching from SAP support to Rimini Street third-party software support.
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