Disruptive technologies such as mobile computing, real-time tracking, and cloud capabilities are creating new applications and abilities across the entire supply chain allowing procurement to offer more strategic value
Emerging technologies being watched by digital procurement experts include sensors, wearables, cyber tracking, spatial analysis, and virutal reality
Digital procurement technology is pushing boundaries in P2P, S2C and SRM
Over the past two decades, procurement has become a vital part of corporate strategy. The importance of the procurement function is being further strengthened by digital supply chain management and analytics. Today’s world of procurement features many different acronyms, and that can get confusing. The goal of this article is to highlight a few of the key areas of procurement.
Once upon a time, procurement’s main mission was focused on cost leadership and assurance of supply. In today’s market, that has broadened to include strategic insights and decision-making enablement. New technologies, such as mobile computing, real-time tracking, and cloud capabilities – which form the Internet of Things (IoT) – are leading the way for new applications and abilities across the entire supply chain, allowing procurement to offer further strategic value.
Some of the core technologies that are adding digital capabilities to procurement organizations include:
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence
Other emerging solutions being closely watched by digital procurement SMEs include: sensors and wearables, cyber tracking, spatial analytics, and virtual reality.
Digital procurement allows organizations to more effectively deliver on their core business using different processes at a reduced cost. It often includes new operating models, organizational constructs, talents, and metrics. The disruptive technologies that are pushing boundaries for procurement strategy can be found in a few key areas of procurement.
Procure-to-Pay or P2P is an integrated system that fully automates the goods and services purchasing process. This goes all ways from requisition at the beginning, through actual procurement, and ends in payment. The goal of P2P is to optimize the purchasing process, bringing out better financial controls and efficiencies, which in turn help to reduce costs and minimize risks.
P2P systems are not meant to speed up the payment process, but rather to improve efficiency and financial controls. Certain best practices within a P2P system include strong technology utilizing a single point of contact such as a supplier portal and reduced complexity in catalogs and channels.
The typical P2P system encompasses a few main steps:
Purchase order workflow
New disruptive technologies for P2P place an emphasis on automation and allow for:
Automatic sensing of material demand and consumption and requisition replenishment deliveries from suppliers
Exchange of goods through validated and vetted decentralized ledgers
Elimination of repetitive processing by using robotic process automation
Trigger of payments using real-time signals of material delivery
Execution of automated secure payments
Source to Contract (S2C)
Solutions that handle sourcing along with purchasing and payment are often referred to as Source-to-Pay (S2P). Often the main missions and challenges in a procurement department revolve around sourcing – finding the best vendors for each activity, negotiating with them, and managing the resulting contracts. Source-to-Contract or S2C represents the upstream and judgment-intensive processes within the S2P process. Many organizations are now outsourcing S2C for non-core or indirect spend because of benefits such as spend reduction and increased compliance. It is one of the fastest growing procurement segments, with adoption rising fast and spreading across industries, geographies, and different organization sizes.
Due to the nature of S2C, digital technologies for S2C place an emphasis on predictive intelligence, where supply base, price, and cost are all predicted, which leads to more transparent agreements.
New technologies for S2C focus on:
Prediction of demand with artificial intelligence
Categorization and management of spend in real-time
Prediction of sources for future innovation
Action on timely alerts from all negotiated agreements with tools such as smart contracts.
Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)
Supplier Relationship Management or SRM is the planning for and management of all interactions with third-party vendors that supply goods and/or services to an organization, with the goal to maximize the value of those interactions. SRM is about creating closer and more collaborative relationship with key suppliers to realize new value and reduce risk of failure.
The main steps in SRM consist of:
Supplier segmentation: mapping suppliers against profitability and risk exposure
Supplier strategy development: distribute internal resources and plans to meet business needs
Supplier strategy execution
Digital technologies for SRM focus on being proactive, by instilling risk mitigation strategies that are preemptive and allow for continuous optimization of operations. These technologies enable abilities such as:
Monitoring of potentials for risk in real-time through the aggregation and visualization of data feeds from third parties
Conducting supplier visits without leaving the office using augmented reality
Performing supplier audits using crowd sourcing
Monitoring sustainability through automatic reporting and visualization