The Shared Services Category

Tech Enabling Procurement Shared Services: SAP Ariba Begins the Journey [PRO]

Procurement shared services organizations and centers of excellence (CoEs) are sometimes tasked with the operational management of source-to-pay technologies on behalf of the organizations they serve. But up until now, they have not utilized purpose-built solutions to improve their own operations. While many use core analytics, sourcing, contract management, supplier management, e-procurement and invoice-to-pay solutions in some capacity in the delivery of their services, the actual operational management of shared services organizations and CoEs themselves has been loosely integrated with underlying procurement technology at best.

In other words, there has not been an operational solutions layer specifically designed for procurement shared services and CoE groups that provides a single workbench to manage activities. This is true even though legacy SharePoint, business process management and workflow solutions often loosely hold some knitting together for these teams. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with introduction of its Procurement Desk product, which Spend Matters PRO recently profiled, covering the solution’s current capabilities in its initial release and planned roadmap for the coming quarters.

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores how different procurement technologies enable the various roles that shared services organizations and CoEs assume — and the opportunity for an operational overlay on top of underlying procurement technology modules. As part of this analysis, we also consider how Procurement Desk may help meet the broader needs of shared services and CoEs, as well as opportunities for SAP Ariba and others to close the gaps that remain in developing purpose-built operational management solutions for these organizations.

SAP Ariba Procurement Desk: Shared Services and Center of Excellence (CoE) Enablement [PRO]

category management

Procurement shared services groups can take different shapes and can add different sources of value. Shared services tend to focus on procure-to-pay (P2P) and accounts payable support, including supplier enablement, supplier master data maintenance, transactional purchasing, transaction processing, invoice automation and exception management. CoEs focus on both a classic shared services model (i.e., supporting processes on behalf of the business units) or a more transformational CoE model (i.e., giving business units tools, training and focused resources like third-party services). 

The former tends to focus on tactical buying like spot buying and tail spend management, and the latter tends to focus on strategic procurement areas such as analytics, sourcing, category and supply market intelligence, and contract management support. Increasingly, a number of CoEs are focused on both areas, whether run and administered internally or in an outsourced manner — sometimes only in part — by a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner such as Accenture or GEP.

Yet even with the help of these outsourced partners, procurement shared services teams and CoEs have not had up to this point a purpose-built technology solution to manage their own operations. SAP Ariba is hoping to change this with its new Procurement Desk product. Available in March to limited release customers and in the summer months to all SAP Ariba customers, Procurement Desk has big plans to improve the capability of shared services teams and CoEs to deliver value and drive continuous improvement.

Based on demonstration sessions, presentations and analyst discussions at SAP Ariba Live in March 2018, this Spend Matters PRO research brief introduces the initial release of Procurement Desk, explores some of SAP Ariba’s ambitions for future releases based on the product roadmap and offers our initial analysis of the new offering, along with recommendations for SAP Ariba customers. A subsequent PRO research brief will provide a generalized CoE operating framework spanning all areas that procurement shared services groups can address with SAP Ariba’s current and planned capabilities for targeting this market.

SAP Ariba Takes Aim at Procurement CoEs Services with A Targeted Shared Services Offering

Eved

Procurement shared services teams — also known as centers of excellence (CoEs) — don’t get enough respect. In larger companies, they are often critical not only to bringing greater operating efficiency to AP and P2P transaction processing but are also increasingly involved in strategic areas including market intelligence, strategic sourcing and even sourcing optimization. Many of SAP Ariba’s customers have CoEs or are in the process of building of them. But as far as we know, no source-to-pay technology provider has come out with a specific module just for them. Until now.

Procurement as a Service (PRaaS) — Part 4: Assembling Third-Party Services

supplier network

In our previous installment of this series, we discussed how an industrialized procurement as a service (PRaaS) model is critical to not just running procurement more efficiently and effectively but also buying and embedding cloud services better, as well as tie procurement into broader digital business strategy efforts. The notion of procurement as a “prosumer” (producer and consumer) of procurement services is both the DNA of modern procurement itself and of global business services.

Procter & Gamble is a great example. P&G was one of the pioneers of the global business services (GBS) model, and its current capabilities here are impressive. What’s also interesting about P&G was when its CEO drove the “connect and develop” program of open innovation to tap supply markets for product innovation and looking beyond internal R&D.

So, if R&D can do that for itself, shouldn't procurement be able to do the same? And isn't it even more important for procurement to do so when considering that nearly all supply market innovation tied to supplier spending is in play? Wouldn't it be important for procurement to lead by example in aggressively adopting such third-party services and also to share best practices around how other internal stakeholders in various spend categories are doing the same? You bet. This makes procurement an innovation gate opener rather than a policy gatekeeper.

Procurement as a Service (PRaaS) — Part 3: Unpacking the Services Stack

digital

In Part 1 of the series, we delved into why procurement should run itself as a services business, and in Part 2, we shared how procurement can learn from other types of professional services businesses to bring more rigor and value to its internal customers and even external customers. On this last point, organizations such as GE, IBM and others have been masterful at industrializing various services internally, and then using themselves as success stories to externalize those services to new customers. In doing this, they are trying to establish themselves as digital platforms that will be the underlying architecture of emerging digital value chains.

So, what does this have to do with procurement? Many things:

  • As we discussed in Part 2, procurement and other stakeholders must understand how supply markets are fundamentally shifting as this digital transformation occurs. Such disruption is not just the “Amazoning” or “Ubering” of the supply chain, but services, too. For example, consider the mind-blowing transformation that Infosys is embarking on with its Mana platform and its Zero Distance approach to innovating service delivery.
  • Procurement can use this trend to its advantage to bring some leverage to relationships with large incumbent providers that may be threatened. This is also a great time to be a “customer of choice” and use strategic supplier management to capture innovation from your incumbent suppliers while also testing out emerging digital services providers.
  • It’s also critical to understand the implications of signing up on someone else's platform and what that means to switching costs down the road, as well as to what extend today’s suppliers don’t become tomorrow’s competitors.
  • Finally, if your company is going through a digital transformation to execute a new digital business strategy where your firm may also be positioning as a “platform,” then it’s important to understand platform-based business models and also cloud-based architectures (i.e., an XaaS model that lets you deliver these services scalably over the web) to more easily plug and play supplier XaaS services (see IBM cloud reference architecture as an example) into your procurement services.

The IBM architecture diagram can be a little overwhelming, so, let me show you a slightly simpler procurement version of this “aaS” architecture and give some examples of some innovative services. Actually, it’s not simple either, but it’s as simple as it can be while explaining the fundamental design of the PRaaS model in one diagram.

Elemica: Shifting From a Shared Services Bazaar to Platform “PaaS” Standard [PRO]

In this series covering Elemica and the platform shift, we’ll explore Elemica’s platform strategy, including associated infrastructure and application components. We will also touch on how these platform building blocks fit into an evolving technology landscape that will increasingly prioritize interoperability and collaboration between organizations as much as internal processes and systems integration.