SAP: How Cloud Technology will Unlock Procurement’s Network

Moving key business processes with procurement to the cloud represents that “next wave” and SAP is offering something to benefit all, writes Etosha Thurman

“The RISE with SAP solution is a managed cloud offering that enables a smooth, secure migration of on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP), including SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA, to the cloud. Its holistic approach to business transformation empowers organisations to better adapt to changing market dynamics and innovate more quickly,” explains Thurman, Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer for SAP Intelligent Spend and Business Network, in a new blog post.

She believes that the software will help to modernise IT, optimise and automate key processes and unlock “new levels of efficiency”, as businesses can harness the power of data and analytics to make informed decisions, enabling them to achieve their goals more “effectively and efficiently.”

The Challenge for Procurement: Extending Digital Transformation to Suppliers

Thurman wrote about how the hottest trend for business functions has been “digital transformation”, which includes procurement. As companies move their internal operations from manual processes and disparate software applications to integrated ERP systems.

These are also starting to leverage generative AI to digitalise manual processes and accelerate decision making. Last year, SAP announced Joule, a natural-language, generative AI copilot that will be embedded throughout its cloud enterprise portfolio.

However, while this represents a win for business, Thurman stressed that it comes with one caveat. "‘Traditional’ digital transformation does not go beyond the four walls of the organisation. This creates a challenge for procurement because suppliers operate outside those four walls, where communication can be anything but digitised. In fact, a 2023 IDC InfoBrief sponsored by SAP revealed that 68% of respondents use email to transmit and receive data and documents for procurement and supply chain collaboration. Other methods include telephone (44%), supplier/customer portals (38%), and EDI (26%).

“Given the technology available today, this is not only unproductive, but it also is completely unnecessary.”

The blog post went on to speak about a premium plus edition of RISE, which includes SAP Business Network for Procurement. “This enables businesses to extend the digital transformation of business processes outside their walls.”


Better Collaboration, Faster Invoice Processing, and an Improved User Experience

Thurman adds that the SAP Business Network for Procurement is a cloud-based collaboration offering that gives buyers and suppliers a way to find each other and do business within a single, networked platform.

The network makes it possible for organisations to:

  • Exchange data and documents digitally with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, emails, or snail mail
  • Achieve enhanced spend visibility and compliance
  • Access a marketplace of suppliers to ensure business resilience, diverse spending, and alignment with sustainability objectives
  • Additionally, improved transactional operations and invoice status visibility enable better working capital management for stronger trading partner relationships. Finance colleagues can enjoy a faster month-end close due to improved accounts payable efficiencies and increased procurement and payment compliance.

When the two programmes are combined, procurement teams can collaborate digitally with suppliers and invoicing processes.

This provides an environment in which procurement can be transmitted digitally to suppliers, which can then generate transactions like orders, order confirmations, ship notices, and invoices, and then act quickly to accelerate the procure-to-pay process, and other areas.

The Next Wave of Digital Transformation

Thurman added: “When you invest in RISE with SAP, you are enabling your business to migrate core business processes to the cloud. By complementing this solution with SAP Business Network, you extend your digital transformation to interactions with trading partners through a single, end-to-end technology landscape built on standardised processes and consistent data.

“This is the next wave of technology that will enable you to address the ever-growing list of business challenges you wake up and face every day.”

Watch Etosha Thurman discuss the importance of having a two-way conversation with its partners, to produce the best business outcomes.

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