Can platform consensus make finance, procurement play better with IT?

common platform Adobe Stock

The daily push and pull between departments across a company can highlight how differing interests can be out of sync — even though groups like finance, procurement and IT need to get out of their silos and work together to innovate, add value and digitally transform.

Traditionally, the CFO worries about the money, the CPO worries about the spend and savings, and the CIO worries about the technology.

Now, technology makes these interests overlap — in good ways and bad.

With the proliferation of cloud-based source-to-pay solutions, departments like procurement have access to more technology options than ever before. They can choose from dozens of potential vendors for technologies that address different business processes, like AP automation, contract lifecycle management and sourcing, or they can even select a suite provider that wraps these processes into a single offering.

Yet with greater choice comes newer problems. One issue, often voiced by IT departments, is that bringing aboard multiple software solutions with different cloud networks leads to data duplication and integration challenges, forcing the business to do extra work to support a patchwork of systems.

That’s where the right platform comes into play.

If the IT department can’t tame all of the processes across a company, it can start by choosing a platform that can meet its needs — as well as addresses the extended functionality requirements of those in other departments across the company.

In other words, if the whole company can get behind the selection of a single platform, it can extend its future technology requirements out from a common foundation — while reaping the benefits of accessing function-specific tools like those for source-to-pay.

Benefits of a common platform

Platforms that are purpose-built for serving the whole enterprise can ensure functionality for a single sign-on, compliance across the company and easier updating of databases too.

Those platforms streamline operations by tying digital business workflows and project management capabilities into all business processes, rather than walling off users into siloed applications that don’t work well unless they’re painstakingly integrated and meticulously maintained by IT.

It’s important to note that a common platform ensures business continuity and extends disaster recovery policies and mechanisms to everything running on that platform.

See how Spend Matters ranks technology providers in SolutionMap's 13 specialty categories

Your personnel also benefit from a common platform because user adoption is easier. Once your staff is accustomed to the look and feel of the platform, it’s easier to navigate across modules and even to learn a new one, like a payments engine being added. The comfort level found with a common platform helps ensure that projects succeed.

Change management also is less troublesome when people are dealing with standardized workflows, approvals and forms. The benefit of standardization for finance and procurement also extends to IT when it needs to respond to changing business needs. It can easily do updates instead of having separate processes for outside modules that may have been tacked on for specialty areas like AP automation or contract lifecycle management (CLM).

Established platforms can come with a partner network that should offer an array of options on companies to work with or to choose a preferred partner. The ease of user adoption also extends to those partners. It takes minimal training to get them going on the common platform.

All of these benefits of a common platform can lower the total cost of ownership, and that leads to a higher return on investment for businesses that use them.

Procurement, platforms in action

To find out more about how platforms can align businesses’ departments and stakeholders, we talked with Aavenir, a provider of source-to-pay solutions built natively for one platform.

“We make solutions for the ServiceNow platform, which facilitates workflows of all kinds. It’s meant to enhance the experience of the user, much like Salesforce is meant to enhance the suppliers’ experience,” Aavenir CEO Jesal Mehta said. “Organizations need automation to improve performance in accounts payable, contract management and sourcing. Having those solutions on a platform that already has the blessing of IT means that users can realize faster returns on investment and can focus on the work — not on persuading IT to approve a bunch of different solutions.”

Reece Group, Australia’s largest plumbing and bathroom fixture supplier, uses Aavenir’s Contractflow solution for centralized contract storage and streamlined approvals. Since contracts exist across all departments, many stakeholders need a tool that works for them, not just for IT.

Reece handles a variety of contracts, including procurement, sales and other commercial contracts. Most of Reece’s contracts are third-party paper. As a result, contracts were increasingly hard to manage, and they had to spend significant time reviewing the contractual terms and amendments. With the higher contract volume, Reece’s team started facing difficulty accessing contracts because there was no systematic way of storing them. Contract managers had to spend a great effort in monitoring contract status, so they needed a solution that could provide complete visibility into the contracts and their lifecycle stage.

“It’s very difficult to make edits or manage approvals when you have a huge variety of contracts, in different formats, on different platforms,” said Alison Prior, Procurement Contract Manager at Reece. “Our contracts vary depending on the type of product, commission, location and other factors, so we needed a solution that was efficient and collaborative.”

By implementing Aavenir, Reece was able to standardize contract workflow that was formal and robust, but still flexible and user-friendly.

“We wanted a faster contract turnaround time, and Aavenir didn’t disappoint,” Prior said. “I would absolutely recommend Aavenir for all ServiceNow customers.”

What the future holds

As a company’s technology strategy has become central to business strategies, a recent Deloitte report on tech trends said the demand for improved outcomes has increased.

“IT will need finance’s support to effectively rethink governance of technology innovation, adapt to agile methodologies and secure creative capital,” the report said.

To delve deeper into the trends of platforms and how they can align departments across a business, Spend Matters Analyst Nick Heinzmann will discuss the issues with Aavenir’s Product Expert Vikram Chakrabarty in a webinar next week. Sign up here for Aavenir’s platform webinar, to be held March 11 at 11 a.m. US Eastern time.

Share on Procurious

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.