Successfully navigating a business through uncertain times requires that decision-makers have full visibility over every aspect of the business in order to make accurate, informed decisions.

For one of South Africa’s largest global organisations, decentralized and siloed procurement systems and processes across multiple business units left it blind and lacking the visibility it needed to better serve the business.

“We had, at the time (2012), 15 business units within the Southern Africa region, each using different procurement processes and different systems,” says Hendrik Steynberg, Vice President of Supply Chain Operations and Systems at Sasol. “This left us with disparate master data and no end-to-end visibility over our supply chain. We wanted a single integrated procure-to-pay platform that provided us with a clear view into spend and the ability to quickly onboard, engage and manage suppliers.”

Sasol is a global integrated chemicals and energy company that sources, produces and markets a range of high-value product streams in 31 countries. The company employs more than 30 000 people and generates revenue of more than $21.7-billion. Sasol manages more than R50-billion in spend across 12 000 global suppliers.

To centralize and standardize its procure-to-pay processes, Sasol chose SAP Ariba, the world’s largest procurement platform that facilitates $3.2-trillion in commerce transacted annually across 190 countries.

“SAP Ariba’s reliability and versatility were the two key ingredients that improved our service level to the organisation,” says Steynberg. “By standardizing our procurement processes, it enabled us to have better visibility into our spend while improving efficiencies and significantly lower costs.”

Sasol implemented SAP Ariba Sourcing, Ariba Supplier Information and Performance, Ariba Contracts, and Ariba Network. One of the key advantages of choosing SAP Ariba was its integration with SAP enterprise resource planning solutions. The implementation was designed to help. Sasol standardize its South African procurement operations. Ariba Sourcing has also been implemented within its Eurasian operations.

Since implementing SAP Ariba, Sasol has enjoyed better visibility over the end-to-end procurement process. “We have achieved a 50% cost reduction on accounts payable within the Southern Africa region, and a 95% rate on of-time supplier payments using electronic invoicing” says Steynberg.

He adds that 75% of total procurement transactions within the Southern African region are now performed through the Ariba Network. “Our automated processes have also reduced the time it takes the supply chain to action purchase requisitions and issue purchase orders. This has contributed to a higher supplier satisfaction score as we can provide streamlined communication and greater transparency over the status of procurement processes.”

Cameron Beveridge, Regional Director for Southern Africa at SAP, commends the work achieved by the implementation team. “Sasol has elevated its procurement processes to better match modern demands, and achieved outstanding gains in efficiency, cost-reduction and transparency. The new digital procurement platform has also empowered Sasol with accurate, real-time information over its total procurement spend, and will continue supporting the business as it scales its operations around the world.”