By Etosha Thurman
Inflation, economic instability, materials and labor shortages, climate change—almost any disruption you can imagine is a pressure point that makes procurement and supply chain management exponentially more complex.
As they grapple with continual disruption, sourcing and procurement leaders also have to manage ever-shifting strategies to control spending, address stakeholder needs, and reduce risk exposure.
After what we’ve experienced in the global economy over the past few years, predicting risk has never been so unpredictable. Climate change and cyber attacks elevate outage risk. Inability to measure and track your supply chain or align with your suppliers on values and processes brings reputational risk. And your cost risk is high without automated real-time monitoring of the markets.
The scope of procurement has gone way beyond meeting organizational needs with cost-effective solutions. Not all suppliers are created equal, and price should not be the only criterion in your sourcing decisions.
To meet your procurement priorities, it’s vital for procurement leaders to build extensive supply chain relationships and make purchasing decisions that incorporate such factors as materials and labor, supplier diversity, and sustainability.
The Changing Procurement Landscape
If your organization is trying to manage sourcing and procurement using legacy supply chain management infrastructure that keeps your data locked in silos and manually updated spreadsheets, you’re not positioned to keep up with the real-time changes that constantly emerge in the real world.
Now more than ever, keeping pace with change requires you to have a unified, transparent view of your company’s sourcing and spending data across all teams and in real time. Getting a handle on the many moving parts in the supply chain ecosystem calls for robust cloud-based sourcing and procurement technology that can help your organization increase data transparency, reduce spending, minimize risk, and improve your supplier collaboration.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are critical for gleaning real-time insights from your supply chain data that can help you improve efficiency. Growth organizations applying AI and automation to their process and workflow management find they can accelerate sourcing cycles, enhance productivity, better quantify spending and savings, clearly define and observe supplier parameters, and process invoices in a fraction of the time it used to take.
Improving procurement processes can give your organization and your suppliers a seamless experience for requisitioning, approval workflows, and invoice and payment processing. Process and workflow management with AI- and automation-powered technology also can help you accelerate sourcing cycles, enhance productivity, and capture and report on savings. More importantly, it can empower procurement and sourcing teams to make the best possible spending decisions.
Boston University is using digital procurement to help make more informed spending decisions than it could with an aging, inefficient procure-to-pay platform and email-, fax-, and paper-based processes. B.U. upgraded to a cloud solution for buying, contract management, invoicing, and sourcing that integrates with its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, automates its manual processes, and supports closer collaboration with suppliers on thousands of purchase orders and invoices.
Managing the Business Process Lifecycle
The increasingly complex global supply chain ecosystem requires organizations to manage spending across the entire business process lifecycle, from supplier sourcing and management to purchasing and payments.
If your organization depends on time-sensitive transactions, real-time supplier management data can give you insights based on transparency, visibility, and resiliency. And the power of AI can help you enhance data-driven sourcing decisions as well as security and risk mitigation.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure. If you can’t see your contracts or performance metrics, how do you get better? Using one integrated AI-powered, easy-to-deploy procurement platform that presents all teams’ metrics clearly and transparently can give your organization a more streamlined user experience.
Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil depends on 1,900 suppliers worldwide to deliver intricate performances with custom-built equipment and thousands of costumes. Cirque dramatically improved its supply chain management after it standardized its core business functions on an agile cloud-based platform that makes procurement transparent and seamless.
“The end user selects the preferred supplier, orders what they need, and receives it on time,” says Stéphanie LeRoy, procurement senior director of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. “It is up to five times faster than our previous system and has a positive financial impact.”
Procurement success depends on being able to analyze real-time data, respond quickly to changing market conditions, and mitigate risk. An AI- and automation-powered cloud-based procurement infrastructure has become essential to reducing risk and cost, boosting efficiency, and strengthening agility across your supply chain.
Etosha Thurman is chief marketing and solutions officer for SAP’s Intelligent Spend and Business Network.