Ultimately, Integration Enables Business Innovation

Businesses are evolving and market change is happening at an unprecedented pace. Companies need to respond to changing conditions faster. By being more agile, organizations also become resilient.

What the current pandemic has shown us is that to optimize for both speed and accuracy, interdependencies among companies are ever more critical. Interconnected digital supply chains are more relevant than ever before, demand prediction is critical to drive commerce, and procurement must become ever more intelligent and sustainable as we look to source goods and services.

The current situation also underlines the strategy that SAP defined years ago: that we are moving from an era of siloed functions to an agile, intelligent, and responsive age. In some ways, we are moving back to basics, as we bring back core business process to the forefront, albeit the next-generation versions that will help power operational efficiency and growth for our customers for decades to come. The next generation intelligent suite is integrated but composable, modular, and infrastructure-agnostic, thereby simplifying adoption, increasing flexibility, and offering choice for companies.

A leading customer example for reimagining business processes by transforming the IT landscape is Orica’s 4S program, which stands for Simple, Standard, Single SAP. Over the past few years, the company has undergone a significant transformation, which covers eight end-to-end business standard processes. Orica redefined all its business processes by consolidating systems on SAP S/4HANA, complemented by other SAP solutions and extensions. All these business models were redefined based on the prerequisite to not customize any solutions so Orica can benefit from faster innovation delivery and a new level of transparency and efficiency across the enterprise.

If we take a closer look at where we are right now, we are investing in key processes that run every enterprise in any industry and are summarized in SAP’s Integration Road Map in the cloud: Lead to Cash, Recruit to Retire, Source to Pay, and Design to Operate.

We have made significant progress with our integration journey with a cloud-first, but not cloud-only, approach by also enabling hybrid scenarios with on-premise SAP S/4HANA. We use key services from SAP Business Technology Platform, such as master data integration in the cloud, and end-to-end business process blueprints for hybrid scenarios as well.

Lead to Cash

Today, it is increasingly important for organizations to engage with their customers in the most effective way to better understand their needs and meet their expectations. Moreover, customers expect personalized experiences and want to choose when and how they interact with businesses.

But providing flexibility for customers can come at the cost of complexity on the business side.

The Lead to Cash process brings together SAP Customer Experience solutions and SAP S/4HANA to deal with this complexity. For businesses that use other solutions for customer journeys, APIs offer the flexibility to integrate those solutions as well. Creating a seamless experience from a customer perspective requires seamless collaboration between marketing and sales teams. This in turn is supported by business capabilities that allow for automated, consistent handovers of leads, choice between e-commerce or direct sales, and flexible pricing configuration.

Enabling new business models with one set of solutions is at the core of the Lead to Cash process. It becomes increasingly important to sell physical products, service products, and subscription products in a unified way and allow customers to choose their own specific combinations. Integration scenarios among SAP Commerce CloudSAP CPQSAP Subscription Billing, and SAP S/4HANA Cloud and on premise enable a variety of scenarios and allow a flexible business process design to achieve this goal. Furthermore, the process does not stop in the sales domain, but seamlessly integrates with SAP Field Service Management for service scheduling and execution.

Recruit to Retire

With today’s business dynamics, organizations are faced with the need to quickly adapt to changing environments. The global pandemic, for example, required companies to re-evaluate and redefine business continuity plans. Companies have seen both sides of the coin: the need to increase workforce and unfortunately, the need to redeploy or furlough employees too. In those moments that matter, transparent communication and trustful collaboration are a must.

This is where Recruit to Retire comes into play, an end-to-end process that enables human resources (HR) leaders to understand, manage, and optimize all aspects of the engagement with their workforce, including external workers. A combined solution portfolio of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Concur, and SAP Fieldglass solutions, along with SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud helps customers manage their workforce in line with business objectives, while putting the individual human experience at the center.

Think of Return to Work scenarios that are currently top of mind due to COVID-19. Many customers are looking for tools to revitalize and re-energize their workforce. By combining these solutions with Experience Management solutions from SAP and Qualtrics, customers can reopen facilities to their employees, reskill their workforce, keep them healthy and engaged, and help them secure new external opportunities if needed — in a human and very interactive way.

At SAP TechEd in 2020, we will show an end-to-end scenario that highlights how Recruit to Retire is being supported by three sub processes. These include Hire to Retire, the life cycle of an internal employee; Travel to Reimburse, or travel and expense management; and External Workforce Management, or engaging with contingent workforce. We will show how SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Fieldglass solutions and SAP S/4HANA cover an end-to-end process for hiring and engaging temporary external workers from a supplier – all connected through one aligned domain model.

Source to Pay

Procurement departments seek transparency across their trading partners; for example, when it comes to topics such as sustainability or risk and compliance. They also require data-driven business insights at every step of the process. This level of transparency and insight for end-to-end processes can only be achieved in networks on a unified platform. This is the foundation for more effective spend management, better engagement with contingent labor, and sustainable practices across the value chain.

The Source to Pay process involves SAP S/4HANA and SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass solutions. Their integration enables organizations to gain a 360-degree view of their processes across the Intelligent Spend category. This covers a variety of aspects related to Source to Pay building on Ariba Network from supplier management and risk, persona-based guided sourcing, contract management, and buying and invoicing functions tailored to specific industry needs. Capabilities with centralized sourcing, contract, requisitioning, purchasing, and invoice monitoring span across multiple backend systems and drive visibility and efficiency in shared services organizations.

One of our recent innovations in that space is the centralized requisitioning capability released with SAP Ariba Buying, as well as invoicing delivered as part of SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Enabled by the guided buying capability, this process addresses the employee self-service procurement flow with the ability to control a global, distributed, and diverse procurement landscape. Based on the integration to SAP S/4HANA for central procurement, it is possible for organizations to scale the purchasing processes to support end-to-end business processes across finance and logistics. This helps enterprises create a path to harmonize system landscapes and centralize processes without disruption. Additionally, central buying reduces process costs and total cost of ownership, while at the same time helping ensure compliance and control.

Design to Operate

Until recently, supply chains were often considered a back-office function. However, recent events have catapulted supply chains into the spotlight as critical to a business’ differentiation and success. No one knew that 2020 would be defined by a pandemic that would bring the global economy to a virtual standstill. Within weeks, the demand for goods and services became highly unpredictable. In such an environment, resilient supply chains become essential. Such resilience allows companies to respond and recover from unanticipated events.

To achieve greater resilience in supply chains, companies need to become more agile in order to sense, predict, and respond to disruption. Building on that, Industry 4.0 allows them to increase productivity and furthermore, by adopting business networks, they can also enable better collaboration with business partners. Finally, strong supply chains not only require, but can also actively support, sustainable business practices.

We deliver capabilities as part of the Design to Operate framework that help customers run such resilient and sustainable supply chains. Our customers can orchestrate an end-to-end life cycle of a product or asset from the design phase to its operation. SAP enables customers to leverage our interoperable solution portfolio to realize seamless business processes based on specific sub-processes, including idea to market, plan to fulfill, and acquire to decommission.

I’d like to highlight a few recent integration examples: We strengthened the business integration between warehouse management and manufacturing, supporting the Supply to Line process and covering just-in-time Supply to Production including internal replenishment. Warehouse workers can now transfer stock from storage locations to production supply areas in SAP Extended Warehouse Management – to accurately and timely supply the production line, thus eliminating waste.

With advanced shipping and receiving within SAP S/4HANA, we significantly improved the Order to Delivery process. Customers can gain higher visibility for combined in- and outbound processes as well as for internal shipments, such as when parts are produced in one factory and then shipped to another for final assembly.

Another innovation that stands out is the integration between Qualtrics and Enterprise Product Design; our customers can now factor in product innovation ideas and feedback in real time by incorporating experience data.

One of the outcomes of the Design to Operate framework is the Digital Thread, which covers the lifecycle of products or assets as represented in a digital twin. Here we partner with industry leaders. One example is SAP’s partnership with Siemens, which aims to bring together the Siemens Team Center with SAP’s product life-cycle management portfolio.

SAP is keeping its promise to customers and integrating its portfolio across functions and capabilities to reimagine business processes for the digital age. Integration ultimately enables business innovation, and this is what the vision of the Intelligent Enterprise is all about.


Thomas Saueressig is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.
This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.