There has never been greater urgency for financial rigor, and many companies are finding it in technologies that provide company-wide visibility into procurement spend.

Several market leaders recently gathered online to share their procurement transformation experiences for an exclusive roundtable during the virtual SAP Ariba Live event. Hosted by Jo Peterson, vice president of Cloud and Security Services at Clarify360, a candid conversation covered not just the wins, but also major challenges.

Teams Dedicated to Collaboration

Like many global organizations that have grown by acquisitions, Stanley Black & Decker needed to simplify its complex technology landscape. The driver behind moving forward with SAP S/4HANA Cloud was the decision to go with the SAP Central Finance solution.

“Creating a new instance of SAP Ariba in SAP S/4HANA allowed us to provide global and consistent financial information,” said Nicole Flikier, digital tools and analytics global lead at Stanley Black & Decker. “It allowed end-users to have a better experience and single source of truth, while supporting our long-term program to have one instance of SAP.”

Flikier was the first to admit that the transformation did not happen magically. Regular communication about the financial benefits united people on multiple project teams around what became a successful go live.

“With numerous ERP systems and all that data, making sure it was harmonized was a challenge. It takes an army to do that cleansing,” she said. “We needed to communicate to the team the value of a universal global ledger… Everybody knew the benefits tied to that, especially being a very financially driven company.”

Flikier characterized her company’s transformation as a tremendous undertaking with aggressive timelines for every project to go live simultaneously. She credited the team’s success to having a shared project methodology and meeting localized country requirements.

Faster Turnarounds Boost User Satisfaction

According to Jinesh Parakulangara, senior manager at HPE Global IT, replacing his company’s organically grown patchwork of legacy procurement systems with a single enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform – SAP Ariba running on SAP S/4HANA Cloud – has saved time and increased productivity for both procurement and payables.

“We now have a more controlled, centralized procurement function…with a road map to consolidate that onto a single platform,” he said. “Our business users are very happy. They just have to go into one system for global procurement operations and invoice verification, tax issues, and anything related to procure to pay.”

Amazing Integration Simplifies and Streamlines

HPE went live with the new cloud-based platform in 57 countries at once, backed by extensive training for employees and suppliers as well as built-in communication and collaboration. Besides touchless invoicing, the biggest win was the simplification around master data management delivered by SAP S/4HANA.

“With a cloud solution, we’re getting more features introduced to us, which we didn’t have in the past when we were on premise,” Parakulangara explained. “From a procurement standpoint, it’s really about simplification of our ordering processes. And on the finance side, with SAP S/4HANA, we’ve tightened the entire process. We truly have a single platform that takes care of our payable needs in a compliant manner. The way these systems integrate with each other is truly amazing.”

Data Harmonization Well Worth It

Similar to Flikier’s experience at Stanley Black & Decker, consolidating data was a worthy challenge given the results at HPE.

“Scrubbing the data was a challenge, but it revealed process gaps and it’s why everything is now streamlined,” Parakulangara said. “One of the reasons why we were able to get processes touchless is because we have brought…everything together from procurement to invoicing to payments all into the same platform.”

He added that using SAP best practices for core processes sped up the entire project.

Intelligence Supports Financial Discipline

Understanding the full picture of spend management is not just essential for operational continuity today; it is a business imperative to keep people productive. There is no doubt that a cloud-based system that brings together real-time information company-wide is instrumental in providing the financial discipline every intelligent enterprise needs.

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This article first appeared on the SAP News Center.