SAP’s Procurement Transformation and Next Steps for a CPO on a Mission: An Interview with Dr. Marcell Vollmer (Part 3)

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After the three-month Ariba e-procurement implementation, Marcell and his team would transition the rest of his global organization entirely onto Ariba for source-to-pay (S2P) by 2014, using the entire suite: Purchase Order and Invoice Automation, Discount Pro, Spend Visibility, E-Sourcing and E-Auctions, Contract Management, Supplier Management and Ariba Catalogs and Spot Buy.

The same year would also see the implementation of Fieldglass to support temporary labor and statement of work (SOW) procurement. And in 2015, Marcell’s organization implemented Concur for travel booking and reimbursement.

Quantifying the Returns

The process efficiency gains through these automation and technology-led process improvement efforts were significant. SAP’s procurement transformation and technology automation efforts earned the procurement function board-level visibility for the results it achieved.

Over the course of his procurement transformation program, Marcell Vollmer’s team achieved a greater than 20% productivity gain by migrating over 10 FTEs to other roles in the organization and automating 25 FTEs entirely. SAP procurement would bring $1.7 billion in annual purchase order value under management, increase automation (as measured) by 50% overall, electronically transmit 600,000 document (versus using paper) and bring more than 6,000 suppliers onto the Ariba network.

Soft Savings

Other benefits of the transformation including reducing costs through “automated data extraction and process automation” and “creating workflow efficiency” through mobile approvals. Additional benefits from the initiative included “reducing errors at the source” and “improving working capital management” based on greater visibility as well as optimizing “cash discount utilization including dynamic discounting.”

Life After the CPO Role

Following this transition, Marcell would assume the role of SAP Ariba’s chief operating officer and then transition to his current role, primarily serving as an external evangelist as chief digital officer. He spends much of his time today as an external speaker, working with customers and partners. Marcell told me this is especially valuable in Europe, given that until recently, Ariba and SAP’s other cloud assets were not well known in the region by procurement organizations.

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Marcell’s story, and just about the only postscript I’d like to see written is how a former CPO, who led from the front during a rapid period of change, can transition not just to being an operational leader and evangelist, but running a large P&L or company.

Somehow, I don’t think that time is far off.

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