Do you ever feel like the list of procurement challenges we wake up to grows a little bit longer every day? Just as we come to terms with one, another pops up. Whether it is the economy, global turmoil, the latest tech disruption, or any number of other things, we are always being tested.

On top of that, we still need to foster relationships with suppliers, manage costs, address sustainability mandates, and build resilient supply chains — all while transforming procurement into a more strategic business function. Not surprisingly, procurement leaders are looking to the next wave of technology to help them position their organizations to adapt quickly to changing conditions.

RISE with SAP: Better adapt to changing market dynamics and innovate more quickly

For many, moving key business processes to the cloud represents that “next wave” and for that, RISE with SAP is the perfect option.

The RISE with SAP solution is a managed cloud offering that enables a smooth, secure migration of on-premises ERP, including SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA, to the cloud. Its holistic approach to business transformation empowers organizations to better adapt to changing market dynamics and innovate more quickly.

Businesses can leverage RISE with SAP to modernize their IT infrastructure, optimize and automate key processes, and unlock new levels of efficiency. They can also harness the power of data and analytics to make informed decisions, enabling them to achieve their business goals more effectively and efficiently.

The Challenge for Procurement: Extending Digital Transformation to Suppliers

For many years, “digital transformation” has been the hot trend for business functions, including procurement. Organizations are moving their internal business operations from manual processes and disparate software applications to integrated ERP systems. These systems are starting to leverage generative AI to improve the user experience, digitalize manual processes, and accelerate strategic decision making.

This is a win for the business with one caveat: “traditional” digital transformation does not go beyond the four walls of the organization. This creates a challenge for procurement because suppliers operate outside those four walls, where communication can be anything but digitalized. In fact, a 2023 IDC InfoBrief sponsored by SAP* revealed that 68% of respondents use email to transmit and receive data and documents for procurement and supply chain collaboration. Other methods include telephone (44%), supplier/customer portals (38%), and EDI (26%).

Given the technology available today, this is not only unproductive, but it also is completely unnecessary. With RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP offers a premium plus edition that includes SAP Business Network for Procurement. This enables businesses to extend the digital transformation of business processes outside their walls.

Better Collaboration, Faster Invoice Processing, and an Improved User Experience

SAP Business Network for Procurement is a cloud-based collaboration offering that gives buyers and suppliers a way to find each other and do business within a single, networked platform. The network makes it possible for organizations to:

  • Exchange data and documents digitally with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, emails, or snail mail
  • Achieve enhanced spend visibility and compliance
  • Access a marketplace of suppliers to ensure business resilience, diverse spending, and alignment with sustainability objectives

Additionally, improved transactional operations and invoice status visibility enable better working capital management for stronger trading partner relationships. Finance colleagues can enjoy a faster month-end close due to improved accounts payable efficiencies and increased procurement and payment compliance.

SAP Business Network for Procurement Extends SAP S/4HANA Cloud

When RISE with SAP is combined with SAP Business Network for Procurement, procurement teams can collaborate digitally with suppliers across procurement and invoicing processes. This dramatically improves transactional efficiency.

Screenshot: SAP Business Network for Procurement
SAP Business Network for Procurement

A natural extension of ERP, SAP Business Network provides an environment in which procurement processes initiated from SAP S/4HANA Cloud can be transmitted digitally to suppliers. As a result, suppliers can view and generate transactions like orders, order confirmations, ship notices, and invoices, and then act quickly to accelerate the procure-to-pay process.

SAP Business Network for Procurement improves process efficiency in many areas, including:

  • Purchase order processing: Digital purchase orders that are created in ERP are sent automatically to suppliers. Once confirmed by the supplier, buyers have visibility into order acceptance and delivery dates.
  • Invoice payment status: Invoice and payment status information is available on the SAP Business Network dashboard to update suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls.
  • Invoicing business rules: Buyers have the flexibility to configure applicable business rules that require adherence to business process and regulatory compliance.
  • Change order update: Buyers and suppliers can communicate changes to open purchase orders, which creates an auditable record of changes and variations. Related documents, such as shipping notices, are also synchronized with updates.
  • Payment compliance: Quick invoice processing and data accuracy minimizes wrong or duplicate payments, while improving accounting processes and overall financial visibility.
  • Supplier collaboration: Digitalization enables quicker feedback from suppliers, making it possible for suppliers to “flip” purchase orders into confirmations and invoices, reducing errors and manual effort.
  • Promotional opportunities: Networked suppliers have additional opportunities to grow their business by using the network to promote their offerings and connect with new customers.

The Next Wave of Digital Transformation

When you invest in RISE with SAP, you are enabling your business to migrate core business processes to the cloud. By complementing this solution with SAP Business Network, you extend your digital transformation to interactions with trading partners though a single, end-to-end technology landscape built on standardized processes and consistent data.

This is the next wave of technology that will enable you to address the ever-growing list of business challenges you wake up and face every day.

Etosha Thurman is chief marketing and solutions officer of Intelligent Spend and Business Network at SAP.

Improve supply assurance, procurement efficiency, compliance, and spend transparency on SAP Business Network

*Driving Best-in-Class Supply Chain Collaboration with a Business Network, doc #US50854723, July 2023