Inspirational Leaders SAP UKI Interview: Paul Jones At ExceleratedS2P Discusses Source-to-Pay In The Mid-Market

Paul Jones is General Manager of excelerateds2p, an SAP Gold Partner headquartered in London, UK, that specialises in source-to-pay processes and technologies. Excelerateds2p won the SAP UKI Pinnacle Award in 2019 and was the SAP ANZ ISM (APAC region) Intelligent Spend Partner of the Year for 2020 and 2021.

Paul talked to us about his career in technology, trends in the mid-market, excelerateds2p’s company culture and vision, how the business is transforming its customers’ spend management.

 

SAP UKI: Tell us a little about yourself, Paul.

I live in Liverpool, in North-West England, with my wife, who runs her own accountancy business for SMEs, and our two kids. We’re a sporty family so I’m often watching matches: my son plays football at elite academy level and my daughter is on the school netball team.

During the first lockdown I bought a bike which I use most mornings. I’ve done over 12,000 miles so far, which is the equivalent of cycling the equatorial diameter of earth one-and-a-half times.

 

SAP UKI: Give us a brief overview of your career.

I spent the first part of my career as a Business Process Consultant at KPMG, where I built a technology practice. I was focusing on using technology to enable innovation and to automate business processes.

After ten years at KPMG, I joined excelerateds2p when the company was around five years old. The co-founders had created a small, innovative company and had really ambitious growth plans. The opportunity to get in at that point and help build the organization to the next level was too good to miss.

 

SAP UKI: What are ExceleratedS2P’s core values and personality?

We’re a small but beautifully formed Source-to-Pay organisation with innovation at the heart of everything we do. We’re constantly trying to innovate, either in the way we do things, by creating our own products, or in how we use SAP technologies.

When I first joined the organization, most of our revenue was from services. We’ve now shifted 20% of our revenue into recurring SaaS revenue with our 3-year business plan aiming for 50%. A large part of that move was down to the employee innovation forum we created a few years ago. Anyone in the company can bring ideas, business problems or customer pain points to the forum and we’ve built 12 products as a result.

We’re now doing something similar with SAP. The SAP Ariba presales team brings us pain points, which we solve by creating apps for the SAP App Store which we can turn around in a matter of weeks, thanks to the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP). We build all our products on SAP BTP and have been using the platform for many years, before it was known as SAP BTP. We’re true pioneers in this area. We now advise and help our clients to use SAP BTP for their own app development. It’s a fantastic platform with a lot of power and capabilities.

Empowering people is another key value for us. Our approach is always people first, and technology second. I’m proud of creating a completely flat organisation: no levels, no job titles, just a philosophy of empowering everybody in the company to do what needs to be done.  It’s a hugely rewarding and enjoyable environment to work in.

 

SAP UKI: What is excelerateds2p’s vision for the next few years?

Our vision for the next three years includes growing and scaling our business in the US.

We’re also strategically moving into the SAP S/4HANA space. We’ve just signed our first SAP S/4HANA customer, MJ Quinn, a mid-market telecoms company that’s a big supplier to British Telecom. Over a ten-year period, MJ Quinn has increased their turnover from £10 million to £200 million, and has outgrown their existing ERP and processes. We’re excited to be bringing them into the 21st Century with SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud.

 

SAP UKI: Which recent project are you especially proud of?

Otsuka is a pharmaceutical company that manufactures products in Japan and distributes them across Europe. They have lots of individual country-based affiliates, all using different processes which were mainly manual, and with different regulatory requirements.

The CFO came to us with a vision of finance and procurement transformation, and we helped them to bring in a common way of working which has freed them for more value-added work. We underpinned both an ERP solution, SAP BusinessOne, and then an SAP Ariba solution so they can manage their third-party spend and cost base in a more efficient way.

They were running manual reports off Excel, which didn’t leave much time for interpreting the data. With much of that now automated, their finance business partners can focus on making strategic decisions using ‘one source of truth’ data across the business.

Otsuka was keen to establish a technology baseline that will scale as the company continues to grow. We provided this, but also made sure the organisation achieved immediate benefits, such as a 10% decrease in the cost of processing purchase orders and invoices. We always deploy systems in an iterative and phased way so our customers get value from it right away.

We’re also starting to look at product extensions and how we can use some of our innovative applications to solve their main regulatory pain points. For example, our PIIP app incorporates two-factor authentication and Public/Private Key encryption technology to securely capture and store sensitive data from suppliers. It sits within the SAP Cloud Platform, in between SAP Ariba and the ERP and fully integrates with SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle Management (SLP) for supplier onboarding and management.

 

SAP UKI: What technology trends are you noticing in the mid-market?

We mostly work with two types of clients in the mid-market. Those that have grown significantly in a short period of time and outgrown their original technology and processes. They find themselves in a position whereby they must invest to automate, drive efficiency, and prepare their organization for the next stage of growth.

Then you’ve got the companies that are just starting out. They want to get the right technology in place from the outset. These companies grow more efficiently, and with fewer overheads, because they’ve got agile technology and processes to support them as they mature and expand.

In both cases, the investment that mid-market clients are making in ERP is not insignificant and they expect to see tangible benefits fast.  That’s why we focus on driving speed-to-value and quick business outcomes.

 

SAP UKI: Do you have any advice for mid-market companies that are in the early stages of their digital transformation journey?

A common mistake I see companies making is adding technology in a piecemeal way. Over several years, they can spend a huge amount of money to fix isolated issues. By the time they get to a certain size, this patchwork approach is no longer workable. The solutions aren’t integrated, the systems don’t talk to each other and a lot of processes are still manual. With that in mind, my advice is to start with the end goal in mind. Don’t be afraid to invest in a technology roadmap that supports what you’re trying to do.

It’s also important to think about what the business looks like in its entirety, rather than viewing it as individual functional silos of manufacturing, finance, sales, HR etc. Instead, invest in technology that supports the organisation to function seamlessly as an integrated unit.