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Best Practices to Open the Silo Between Accounts Payable and Procurement

3 Best Practices to Open the Silo Between Accounts Payable and Procurement

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Summary: Accounts payable and procurement work hand in hand, although many departments remain uninformed about the goals, metrics, decisions, and communications of the other. Businesses can breach data silos among the two departments by implementing Intelligent Spend Management solutions, utilizing technology and automation to its fullest, generating shared goals among the two departments, and generating a culture of effective sharing and communication. Creating flow between AP and procurement reduces risk, opens usable capital, increases business agility, and supports better supplier relationship management.

Why Is Alignment Between AP And Procurement Important?

Accounts payable and procurement can be seen like the left and right hands of an organization. Unfortunately, in many businesses, neither hand knows what the other is doing—even if they both report to the same person—which results in unnecessary fumbling, inefficiency, and lost profits. In an ideal scenario, finance, procurement, and supply chain all need to work closely together, sharing data and common goals for the greater good.

Procurement and accounts payable are an obvious place to begin when breaking down information silos because procurement is tasked with buying goods and services while accounts payable is responsible for paying for those same goods and services. Procurement and payment need to be combined under one reasonable, cohesive procure-to-pay (P2P) strategy in order for both “hands” to bring the best value to an organization.

A cohesive P2P strategy offers the following benefits to businesses:

  • Positive working capital and achievable early payment discounts generated through realistic timelines between both departments
  • Sourcing that involves more depth and insight than procurement can achieve on its own
  • Better spend analytics based on data for more accurate cash flow predictions
  • Better supplier relationship management via sharing and communicating goals, updates, and information about interactions
  • Contract negotiation with suppliers that offers greater flexibility

Intelligent Spend Management: A Strong Plus

Intelligent Spend Management enables businesses to manage every source of spending across every category while aggregating spend data under a single, unified view.

SAP Ariba, the basis for our Premikati Marketplace, is a strong proponent and deliverer of Intelligent Spend Management solutions. Focus and agility are byproducts of “[understanding and using] data, transforming it from information into intelligence, and intelligence into value.” Intelligent Spend Management allows businesses to mitigate risks, collaborate effectively, automate their source-to-pay processes, and engage in rapid acceleration—toward fast-changing customer desires and new business models and revenue streams alike.

As it applies to AP and procurement, Intelligent Spend Management helps teams communicate and prioritize better, uncover hidden spend, and collaborate more effectively with suppliers and business partners.

Actionable Ways to Open the Silo Between Accounts Payable and Procurement

In order for a business to begin the process of integrating accounts payable and procurement in such a way to mitigate risks and unneeded spending, it must begin with a plan. The following are starting points for businesses to create a path toward open, effective procedures between AP and procurement:

Agree on Common Goals

It doesn’t how hard either side is working if they are each working toward conflicting goals. Both departments should agree on common metrics and goals that both work toward throughout the month and subsequently report to relevant executives. Cash flow goals should be shared and purchasing decisions made in accordance with these goals. One shared goal which can be acted upon immediately is to create and utilize a combined, up-to-date vendor master list that is devoid of duplicates and is clear about who maintains what responsibilities in regards to the list.

Use Technology To Its Fullest

Technology is the cornerstone of adaptable, agile businesses in the modern day. Not only can technology help mitigate risk through automated processes which reduce errors and fraud, it can also be a key factor in breaking down communication barriers between departments which previously maintained their own separate records and metrics. If both AP and procurement maintain data through technological means, then that data can be more effectively combined and utilized to make better business decisions and predictions.

One immediate way to opt in to technology to support effective processes between procurement and accounts payable is via adopting and Intelligent Spend Management system. Because data will be able to be viewed from a centralized dashboard, insights and intelligence quickly follow. Having this form of system in place can also guide other processes between departments such as which key metrics to prioritize.

Other disruptive technologies may also be of use during AP / procurement crossovers. SAP Ariba, basis of the Premikati Marketplace, utilizes the high-tech trifecta of AI, machine learning, and blockchain. These sorts of technologies can assist with safe record-keeping, automation, and predictive analytics.

Create A Culture of Sharing

Information hoarding is an ineffective approach in today’s business culture. Instead, opt for a sharing culture that understands boundaries—sharing at length, but efficiently.  In conjunction with creating shared goals, each department should also share information related to their key metrics and goals, their progress, and offer solutions surrounding how the two departments can work together for overall success.

AP and procurement should share relevant information regarding invoices—such as unpaid, late invoices—and recent interactions with suppliers. Similarly, any vendor info which has changed should be made promptly available to employees in both departments, perhaps through the combined vendor list. In terms of efficiency, an action businesses can take right away is to set aside a time for sharing and questions between the two departments. If questions can be saved for the end of the workday, then constant interruptions are less likely to throw off the flow of each side’s work, yet needed questions can be answered to better inform decision-making and priorities, offering fast adaptability on a day-to-day scale.

An Intelligent Spend Management system is one way to combine effective, efficient sharing culture with technology for easily-accessible data for all.

Feel free to share your best practices or pain points below…we love to hear comments from those in the field!

intelligent spend management

What is Intelligent Spend Management?

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Intelligent Spend Management: Why it Exists, and Why you Need it

Between global sourcing initiatives, product lifecycle management, supplier diversity milestones and more, the procurement operation in any sizable company is tasked with processing immense volumes of data.

And with the immense popularity of lean and tech-oriented skill sets in the discipline, no data is more relevant to procurement than the things that impacts company spend.

The Problem: Data Islands

Often, supply chain data is kept on systems that don’t talk with each other. Some systems may be deprecated, while others exist only on certain peoples’ machines.

In operations like this, the company is said to lack something called business intelligence– the ability to efficiently analyze data with technology and derive actionable information.

Introducing business intelligence to a company typically involves change management processes with long time horizons, affecting the bottom line. The growing pains required to become a business intelligence-enabled company may require a major culture shift, too, even while dropping large amounts of money on new ERP systems and consultants.

For those procurement operations that do have all their data efficiently accessible in one place, they’ve still only ach

  1. Procurement Strategy

ieved half the battle. Approaching the data with informatics, or the science of how to use data, poses another challenge altogether.

Intelligent Spend Management: How it Works

Thankfully, for small and medium-sized procurement operations, it doesn’t take a reverse auction guru, enterprise software wiz, and sourcing strategist all in one to enhance the unit’s business intelligence with technology. The traditional methods of enhancing business intelligence have been tailored for procurement professionals in a new, simplified process called Intelligent Spend Management.

First and foremost, Intelligent Spend Management (ISM) streamlines your software suite into a centralized hub. From there, ISM allows the supply chain professional to anticipate threats, understand their market, and work across business units to deliver efficiencies that were virtually impossible before.

SAP Ariba, the most comprehensive ISM software suite, generates more data from across the source-to-pay cycle than any other network. As the company website notes, “SAP Ariba’s vast repository of data has been aggregated from millions of companies conducting trillions of dollars in spend over the course of more than 20 years.”

Thanks to the flexibility of SAP Ariba, third-party solutions and custom flexibility can be easily integrated into the software. Efficiency-oriented solutions like Premikati Marketplace fit squarely into the suite without disruption to the end user.

Intelligent Spend Management: Starting the Conversation

With any change management process, the business needs executive buy-in for the initiative to be truly successful. Achieving that buy-in can be a challenge to procurement professionals, who may face pushback for introducing disruptive, new ideas.

Thanks to the presence of consulting companies specializing in the process, like Premikati, the conversations over how best to introduce ISM to one’s own business can take place in a guided, easy-to-understand manner.

Intelligent spend management is as much a philosophical approach to the procurement operation as it is a function of corporate business intelligence. Reach out to the folks at Premikati, who offer an SAP Qualified Partner-Packaged Solution, to start the intelligent spend conversation.

the SMB digital transformation challenge

The SMB Digital Transformation Challenge

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The SMB Digital Transformation Challenge: Why SMBs Have Typically Been Digital Laggards in Procurement

While essentially every company could benefit from digital transformation — whereby they adopt digital technologies and processes to improve everything from customer experience to IT efficiency — many organizations have yet to fully embrace this change. In particular, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) typically lag large enterprises (LE) in digital transformation, particularly for procurement functions.

SMB Roadblocks
The reason why SMBs lag larger competitors often relates to the size of an enterprise. For example, a survey of mid-sized business IT professionals, conducted by Spiceworks and sponsored by CenturyLink, found that the top roadblocks to digital transformation include:

  • Budget
  • Limited time and staff
  • Competing IT priorities
  • Resistance from end-users and internal decision makers
  • Limited skill and expertise

As this list indicates, some of the top roadblocks are tied to the resources that an organization has. And in general, larger companies have more resources. As such, digital transformation becomes more attainable as budgets increase and when employees aren’t as stretched for time.

For procurement, a lack of resources means that SMBs often cannot invest in the technology necessary to obtain visibility into spend and streamline buying processes. Procurement activities at many companies tend to be decentralized and manual, leaving organizations without the insights needed to improve in this area.

Still, these challenges are by no means limited to SMBs, it just tends to get easier as companies gain more resources. A global survey of procurement and operational leaders at companies of varying size, conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt with support from SAP Ariba™ ,found that 83% of respondents think digital transformation will be impactful but only 5% already have highly automated processes. Similarly, the survey found that data/analytics quality is the largest roadblock to more efficiency, followed by budget restrictions.

How SMBs Can Improve Digital Transformation in Procurement 

While finding the budget and convincing internal stakeholders to adopt procurement technologies may be difficult, change can be cost-effective in the long run.

For example, research from The Hackett Group finds thatdigital transformation helps typical procurement groups reduce process costs by 30%. The research also finds that top procurement groups have lower labor costs and staff levels than their peers, and they improve efficiency by standardizing and automating routine tasks.

This means that SMBs don’t necessarily need to add additional employees to keep up with competitors, but they can instead leverage technology and digital processes to become more efficient with the resources they do have.

Fortunately, procurement technology is also becoming more readily available for SMBs, whereas in the past, procurement platforms tended to be priced at a level that only large companies could afford. Now, SMBs can implement systems that allow them to move from using paper-based supplier catalogs or ordering from disparate websites to centralized marketplaces. Doing so enables employees to find all the items they’re looking for in one place online, much the way they shop for items in e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and eBay in their personal lives.

By centralizing purchasing activities, SMBs then get the added benefit of gaining visibility into their spending, particularly the small tail spend purchases that would otherwise be hard to track. Doing so enables companies to find cost savings such as by identifying unnecessary spend and implementing cost controls so that employees stay within budget.

Digital transformation in procurement doesn’t have to be overly complex, but by moving purchasing activities onto centralized platforms, SMBs can gain the insights and set the controls they need to improve efficiency. Moreover, SMBs can link digital procurement activities into the rest of their digital transformation, such as by sourcing digital-minded suppliers that can provide added value to other functions.

To learn more about how SMBs can embrace and improve digital transformation in procurement affordably, explore Premikati Marketplace, a solution that runs on the SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing Technology at a price geared toward SMBs. You can also get in touch with us for more detail.

 

About PREMIKATI

Founded in 2009, Premikati, Inc. is a WBENC certified woman-owned Supply Chain Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm, providing cost savings and financial, contractual and supplier risk mitigation services to purchasing organizations for mid and large enterprises while leveraging best-in-class purchasing processes and technology. Premikati has partnered with SAP and is one of only five companies globally to have been granted the most exclusive partnership level with SAP Aribaas a BPO Partner.

Digital Transformation in Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Digital Transformation in Small and Medium Sized Businesses

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SMBs and Digital Transformation: Is Your Company a Laggard or a Front Runner?

SMBs have long been seen as being “behind the curve” in terms of transformative businesses processes. This unfortunate placement puts slow adopters at a disadvantage, blocking access to cost-saving solutions and process optimization.

With all the advantages that digital transformation promises, you might wonder what the hesitation is all about, but it could be due to one or more factors that include:

  1. Lack of awareness. In small businesses, often there isn’t a dedicated technology officer to inform leadership of new and helpful tools. Unless there is somebody within the organization who has an interest in pursuing this line of action, the company will likely continue as they have in the past, gradually losing market share.
  2. Cost-prohibitive nature of large analytic ERPs. Not every business is a good candidate for an ERP as these systems are often designed for the enterprise and not priced for a smaller operator.
  3. Lack of manpower. Digital transformation does not happen overnight. Identifying the right technology, migrating systems, training staff, and generally managing change is a time-consuming and sometimes complex process. Many businesses simply do not have in-house staff who are trained adequately enough to see it through and hiring an outside company isn’t always possible due to budget constraints.

Procurement solutions: turning laggards into front-runners

Even if your digital transformation is underway, some departments are often overlooked or put on the back burner while more critical areas are addressed. Procurement is one such area, but in truth, it is one of the easiest to gain control over, helping you lower costs and gain some competitive ground.

Procurement is, perhaps, the largest area of total spend over which SMBs do not have complete oversight. In most cases, there will be several individuals spread out over various departments who are making purchases covering everything from office supplies to raw materials.

In the enterprise, these tasks are centrally managed through the ERP. Buyers can access a centralized list of preferred suppliers, leverage an integrated PO system for efficient financial reporting, and stakeholders are provided with complete transparency into all procurement activities.

How can SMBs take advantage of enterprise approaches to save?

The good news is, the ability to easily manage spending analytics and choose from a catalog of diverse suppliers is no longer the sole realm of the enterprise.

The solution: Premikati Marketplace

Running on the SAP Ariba™ Buying and Invoicing platform, Premikati Marketplace can accomplish all of these things, offering affordability and scalability combined with the simplicity and security of a cloud-based platform.

Premikati Marketplace is a B2B marketplace that features tens of millions of items from fully-vetted and sustainable suppliers. SMBs can access features like rock bottom pricing and leverage built-in spending control, driving value straight back to the bottom line.

“Finding frictionless ways for your business to initiate digital transformation in their organization is a growing trend and plays a key role to maintain competitiveness. The challenge is that businesses are just like consumers – they want fast time to value and convenience. Premikati Marketplace offers both for SMB companies by digitally connecting suppliers to help SMB companies buy goods at market-friendly prices with control and visibility that is required by companies. This is a great foundation for any business to start digital.”

 

Sean Thomson, SAP Ariba, Network & Ecosystems

@seanthomson0108

Benefits of Premikati Marketplace

There are many benefits of Premikati Marketplace, including:

  • Control spending across multiple departments and buyers
  • Reduce time spent on ad-hoc buying processes from days or weeks to just hours
  • Up to 35 percent reduction in costs overall
  • Cashback feature: receive a rebate of up to one percent on your P-Card for all purchases

If your company is lagging behind the pack in digital transformation, even small changes can deliver significant results. To learn more about how we can help you optimize your procurement spend, visit www.premikati.com/marketplace or call us directly to find out how we can help.

About PREMIKATI

Founded in 2009, Premikati, Inc. is a WBENC certified woman-owned Supply Chain Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm, providing cost savings and financial, contractual and supplier risk mitigation services to purchasing organizations for mid and large enterprises while leveraging best-in-class purchasing processes and technology. Premikati has partnered with SAP and is one of only five companies globally to have been granted the most exclusive partnership level with SAP Aribaas a BPO Partner.

Premikati and SAP Ariba Deliver Enterprise-class Procurement for SMBs

Premikati and SAP Ariba Deliver Enterprise-class Procurement for SMBs

By Procurement No Comments

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), shrewd spending decisions can mean the difference between failure and success. But many lack the systems and staff to make procurement a mission-critical priority.

Premikati Inc. has a solution to their problem. Leveraging technology from SAP Ariba, Premikati introduced the Premikati Marketplace, giving SMBs access to enterprise-class procurement as a service.

“Small and medium-sized businesses have long wanted to take advantage of enterprise-class procurement, but they haven’t had the means,” said Marisol Buczynski Buchanan, CEO of Premikati. “Using the Premikati Marketplace, they can access millions of vetted suppliers and enterprise-class procurement tools that provide greater visibility into their spend and procurement process from end to end – all at a cost they can afford.”

As an SAP Ariba partner, Premikati has created the marketplace specifically geared to SMBs in just six weeks, from delivery to cutover to production. It provides them with critical elements they need in driving a simple, efficient source-to-settle process that quickly delivers results. Their customers can manage spending, connect with suppliers, improve cash flow, and drive compliance – all without adding complexity.

“The Sanders Group has been transacting over the Ariba Network for many years as a media technology and communications supplier to some of the largest companies in the United States,” said Mike Sanders, president of The Sanders Group. “With the Premikati Marketplace, we can now use the same SAP Ariba solution to purchase products and services we need to run our business. Premikati was able to get our team enabled and completing transactions within one hour of receiving our information.”

SAP Ariba SNAP! FAQs

SAP Ariba Snap Frequently Asked Questions

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As one of only eight companies in North America that have the ability to implement SAP Ariba Snap solution that is targeted at mid-market companies, we at PREMIKATI have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers to help you decide if your organization is ready to take the next steps into solving your procurement obstacles and meeting your business objectives.


Overview and Key Differentiators:

What exactly is SAP Ariba Snap and how does it differ from standard SAP Ariba?

Snap is an implementation of SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing and encompasses the critical elements of a procurement foundation at a minimum of complexity.

What is the process of implementation?

PREMIKATI is able to take your business live with SAP Ariba Snap in under 12 weeks. You will get best practices on Day 1 out-of-the-box which can be adjusted during implementation and over time.  In order to maximize the return on investment, we recommend that SAP Ariba’s Spot Buy marketplace be turned on immediately.  We want you to be transacting in 2 weeks or less!

(See more about the incredible SAP Ariba Spot Buy Marketplace!)

Supplier enablement of the initially targeted suppliers are performed by Premikati.  This is a critical aspect of the successful implementation and has been fully integrated into the implementation process.  We train your team so you can be self-sufficient as you add suppliers over time.


Spot Buy:

Does the SAP Ariba Spot Buy Marketplace come with SAP Ariba Snap?

Yes, Spot Buy is included and can be ready for transacting early in the implementation process.

One great thing about Spot Buy is that you can control content by commodity. For example, the administrator has the ability to toggle on and toggle off what content your users are allowed to see.  In addition, approval workflows and cost center information can be added to any purchase.  These are unique value props to Ariba Marketplace. You choose the content for your users, no matter the number or location – a feature that NO competitor has.

Do users in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, UK, Germany, and Australia have access to Spot Buy content immediately or is that limited to the US only?

The marketplace is growing fast! SAP Ariba Snap has up to 60 million SKU`s from sustainable, and vetted suppliers. It is available for users in US, Canada, UK, and Germany today.  Mercateo is the marketplace provider for EMEA.  Recently, SAP Ariba signed agreements with Mercado Libre that will make the marketplace available in Latin America.


Guided Buying:

Does Guided Buying come with SAP Ariba Snap, and if so, can you configure other categories to the guided buying landing page?

Yes, Guided Buying is included. While you can easily add additional categories that are specific for your business, with Snap you get pre-built categories with content and forms for:

  • IT & IT Services
  • Office Supplies
  • Advertising & Printing
  • Marketing Services
  • Financial Services
  • Legal & HR Services
  • Facilities / Maintenance
  • Travel

(See more about SAP Ariba’s Guided Buying)
 


Technical:

How do approval processes work? What do they look like?

You will receive SAP Ariba’s best practice approval workflow out-of-the box. You can approve via the application, via email, or by mobile device.  Approval workflows have tons of flexibility. There are parallel approvals to accelerate process. There is a concept of a watcher, and user approval groups.  Out of the box approvals include role, dollar value, special situation. This helps to minimize the need to build customizations.

How does Ariba & ERP’s integrate? Is there a standard set of integration scenarios for each process within Procure-to-Pay that no special development is needed if SAP best practices are followed?

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of Snap is the pre-determined flows, processes, and approvals out of the box. The structure is both robust and complete, essentially eliminating the need for customized integration. There are few instances where the custom integration justifies both the up front and ongoing maintenance costs.  With SAP software, there are 170 native integration points. The number of integrations is 8x of any competitor and covers the entire Source-to-Settle process.

Does this apply to non-SAP customers as well?

Yes. Ariba Snap is ERP Agnostic and will deploy in <12 weeks. 42% of Ariba customers are non-SAP.

Essentially all ERP systems can now be integrated to Ariba.

Are analytics provided? If so, how is reporting presented and managed?

Yes, analytics are provided which are focused on the P2P lifecycle.  As part of Snap, SAP Ariba has provided end to end capabilities to support the entire procure to pay process.  All of the basics are reported on (approvals, spend by categories, invoices exceptions, accruals, etc.) It is possible to set it up to have a weekly report sent to your stakeholders directly from the tool, or you may download in Excel.  Additionally, any data element captured can be reported with an unlimited number of customized reports that your team can create easily.

 


Upgrades:

If our company outgrows SAP Ariba Snap, do we have to redeploy/repurchase SAP Ariba?

Absolutely not!  SAP Ariba Snap is the same full Buying and Invoicing solution deployed at Large Enterprise customers but the focus is on the features and functionality that are critical to growing businesses and deploy only those features.  If you need additional features in the future, these are already included in your license and you can toggle them on at any time.

The beauty of SAP Ariba Snap is that it is a solution that is built to grow in complexity as your business matures. With implementation, we start with the key foundations that will give you the fastest time to value in key spend categories.  Once the foundation is set you can add those features and functionalities that best meet your needs while minimizing cost and operational risk.

What does SAP Ariba Snap cost?  Is the price determined by Spend Volume? by PO? Or transactions? Or connections?

Pricing is done by volume of Spend and the of the number of documents (PO and Invoices per year). Unlimited users are allowed so everybody in your company to have flexibility to access the tool without additional cost.

  


My Suppliers:

What is the process for suppliers to join the Ariba Network?

Suppliers can join the network at discovery.ariba.com but they are also invited to the Ariba Network from the buyer in their Ariba site. This can be done as an invitation or when a PO is sent to supplier prompting the invitation. Suppliers are considered customers too. SAP Ariba has used many UX principles to dramatically ease supplier interaction on the network.

What are the fees for Suppliers with SAP Ariba Snap?

Your suppliers can transact for free on the Ariba Network. They have the ability to send PO`s, Invoices, Order Confirmations, Ship Notices, and more. (Learn more about Light Enablement from SAP Ariba) 

Why should we buy SAP Ariba instead of a competitor’s product? Here are a few highlights:

  • Fast time to value (<12 weeks)
  • Best practices built in
  • Access to Spot Buy marketplace (content engine) that you control by commodity
  • UPGRADE Path without having to “upgrade”!!!
  • Local Resources – local language support and real-delivery expertise
  • Integration is simple and easy
  • Commercial flexibility i.e. Unlimited users and low subscription price
  • Suppliers can transact for free on the Ariba Network via Light Enablement

 


About PREMIKATI

Founded in 2009, PREMIKATI is a WBENC certified woman-owned Supply Chain Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm, providing cost savings and financial, contractual and supplier risk mitigation services to purchasing organizations for mid and large enterprises while leveraging best-in-class purchasing processes and technology.

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