A new wave of disruption may be emerging, but businesses are not necessarily resigning to the challenges experienced during the first one. By turning lessons learned into a blueprint for spend management and supply chain practices, businesses can adapt and respond to every change resiliently — with SAP Solution Extensions enabling it all.

In boardrooms all over the world, the desire for more strategic spend management and resilient supply chains has never been stronger. To avoid the disruption of operational vulnerability and limited access, executives are restructuring their value chain operations end-to-end, from the first buying interaction to final delivery.

For many SAP customers, fueling such a transformation calls for technology — such as SAP Solution Extensions — that closes every process gap and optimizes efficiency and productivity. Most importantly, they must be well-positioned to deliver outcomes that bring stability when everything seems uncertain.

Mining Optimal Levels of Process Performance and Efficiency

Although many businesses have acquired data-driven, market-savvy, diverse partnerships and a new mindset from the last disruption, the next one will unlikely follow the same rules and trajectory experienced before. Consumers may react and behave differently as they either tire or adapt to the situation. Meanwhile, employees could have adopted unique schedules and practices that set the right balance between their work and lifestyle commitments.

For most procurement and supply chain organizations, this reality brings higher risk and vulnerability to customer experiences, business model performance, and policy and regulatory compliance as well as rising operational costs and less-than-optimal results. But a holistic approach to process management and automation can drive continuous improvement and enterprise efficiency in the face of unexpected change.

Comprehensive process mining, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning capabilities are designed for a moment like this. The SAP Process Mining application by Celonis facilitates digitalization and automation — and the move to intelligent enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, SAP S/4HANA — to increase visibility and insights into existing processes. In addition to finding, understanding, and remediating variations and deficiencies, SAP Process Mining allows customers to bridge operational gaps by supporting audits, operational improvements, governance and adherence, and risk mitigation.

Running Fast, Transparent Procurement in the Cloud

Moving away from paper-based processes is another critical part of maximizing efficiency and workflow. But even when digital catalogs and portals are used widely in the procurement process, the transaction is not official until the documents are signed in ink.

Gaining these approvals and moving documents seamlessly between departments, suppliers, and customers are deceivingly simple. An inefficient chain of events is often triggered, ranking from locating the right people to sign off the transaction to mailing supplier contracts, statements of work, amendments, confidentiality agreements, and other documents.

Procurement teams have more strategic work to do than handling daunting, administrative tasks.

With the SAP Signature Management application by DocuSign, the execution, flexibility, and security of the sign-off procedures can be accelerated at a lower cost. The application integrates with one of the world’s largest business networks, creating a secure, automated workflow for electronically collecting information, tracking progress, and obtaining legally binding electronic signatures. In return, data security increases, costs are lower, compliance is stronger, and contract execution is faster.

Another critical part of procurement excellence is digitalizing and automating accounts payable processes on premise or in the cloud.

Using the SAP Invoice Management application by OpenText, customers are meeting payment and compliance deadlines more efficiently, with fewer data errors and lower associated costs. The application provides the visibility necessary to reward vendors with timely payments while taking advantage of discounts, decreasing supplier management costs, and establishing accurate financial reporting. Furthermore, managers can review and approve invoices with their mobile devices, shortening approval cycles, paying vendors sooner, and complying with contracts and regulations better.

Optimizing the Full Supply Chain with Asset Management

As an extension of the procurement process, supply chain operations run best with consistent, real-time master data, supporting the reuse of data models, business logic, and validation frameworks with open integration with third-party products and services. Trusted master data fuels cross-functional analytics to drive performance management and strategic decision-making with an understanding of real-world performance and opportunity.

SAP Master Data Governance, enterprise asset management extension by Utopia enables effective asset life-cycle management and maintenance with the creation and control of master data. Manufacturing customers are unifying the management of master data related to their plant and equipment assets, safeguarding enterprise information, and automating processes with machine learning capabilities. Plus, a single version of correct, complete master data and dependable maintenance plans are accessible to all users, speeding up the transition from development to a stable operational state.

By integrating data governance into the supply chain process, the enterprise asset management extension reduces spares and parts expenses while advanced scheduling limits the need for costly, expedited delivery. Increased visibility into maintenance requirements helps ensure that nothing is missed — enhancing safety across operations and removing time-consuming, walk-down audits.

For engineering and construction businesses delivering capital projects and operations, an add-on designed for their unique asset management needs is available for the SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management (SAP Extended ECM) application by OpenText. Process efficiency and effectiveness are improved through access to centralized, accessible maintenance content, boosting productivity and operational control with better reliability and reduced outages. Comprehensive capabilities — such as engineering project-team workspaces, redlining and markup of engineering drawings, and collaborative approval workflows — boost productivity and strengthen operational control with greater reliability and fewer outages.

Addressing Industry-Specific Concerns With Great Attention

While these solution extensions have a significant cross-industry following, SAP also recognizes the unique needs of specific segments. For example, the SAP Grower Management for Perishables application by Vistex streamlines the management of complex processes and relationships between buyers and growers of perishable products, such as fruits and vegetables. Contract setup and services for farming, logistics, and accounting assist all stakeholders in negotiating and fulfilling commitments efficiently and profitably.

We also offer a solution extension for farm management operations, which integrates a wide array of agribusiness processes and automatically generates critical financial, quality, planning, and maintenance data. By eliminating the cost of inconsistent data entry, the SAP Farm Management application by Vistex empowers managers to align their planning, planting, growing, and harvesting strategies with common goals and base decisions on reliable, real-time data.

These solutions are part of a broader portfolio of SAP Solutions Extensions that serve the needs of specific industries with comprehensive functionality and best practices. Supported industries range from agribusiness, retail, and industrial manufacturing to energy and natural resources, financial services, and public services.

Securing an Edge With Effective Spend and Efficient Supply Chains

No business wants to go through another round of the economic uncertainty of a pandemic — and SAP is no exception. However, should it happen, customers can help ensure their spend management practices and supply chain operations are ready for every twist and turn with the support of a wide-ranging portfolio of SAP Solution Extensions.

The next installment of this series will discuss how SAP Solution Extensions can help companies address unique needs for their industry.

Learn more about SAP Solution Extensions at sap.com/solution-extensions.