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SAP Ariba experts agree on 5 key talking points across Intelligent Spend Management in 2021 as Europe plans to emerge from its parapet

By admin_bluewaveselect


Almost a year ago to the time of my writing this piece, Europe was plunged into wide-spread uncertainty and an economic chaos… a direct product of the Covid-19 virus that arrived with little warning and set up camp without invitation.

The world was irrevocably affected; here in the UK a National lockdown was announced on March 23rd 2020 and similar National measures were taken across many other parts of Europe (or even further afield) from which you may be reading this article.

And for those of us operating in various degrees within the confines of Technology, SAP Ariba, Cloud Procurement and Intelligent Spend, we have all noticed a slow down of projects over the past 12 months. Personally I had clients switch strategies and pause any further hiring of SAP Ariba skills, with many consultancies worried about maintaining a full pipeline of projects to ensure existing resources sustained their engagement (profitability). The trend eventually turned towards (in some cases brutal) cost cutting, and as the months continued to pass we entered into what I identified in a previous article as a clearly defined Buyers-Market (available SAP Ariba Consultants up 49% on 2019 and available jobs down 68% from 2019).

The good news however, is that for the first quarter here at bluewaveSELECT, we’ve seen the trends start to reverse and successful hiring of SAP Ariba talent in Q1 2021 so far is up nearly three times as much as Q1 2020. And I can only see signs of this continuing due to (i) previously paused projects restarting and (ii) new companies aligning strategy to invest in better more efficient cloud procurement solutions enabling management and analysis of spend to a greater degree of effectiveness.

So what is Intelligent Spend Management? In the words of SAP Ariba directly, Intelligent Spend means “comprehensively managing all supplier relationships and company purchasing to identify every dollar spent and get the most out of it. Spend management best practices integrate and automate all spend-related activities from source to settle so that buying happens as planned and suppliers get paid in compliance with contracts.”

If you have the time and the curiosity then I strongly recommend re-visiting the ever entertaining Lloyd Keays (SAP Ariba’s Senior Director of Innovation and Strategy Presales) presentation from SAP Ariba Live in Dubai where he talks about SAP Ariba Intelligent Spend Management with unrivalled charisma:

OK but ultimately, why is this of interest to business? Every second of every day, global businesses are spending money. There is also an emphasis on compliance across company activities involving data. And furthermore demand from “the powers up top” to get things done faster and more efficiently is ever increasing. SAP Ariba solutions gives business the power to capture data and apply policy every time money is spent, through the best systems for each category and the largest networks and platforms, and then bring all that data into one unified view. In essence… one unified view across every source, and every category.

·        Faster visibility to inform decisions

·        Intelligent capabilities for focused growth

·        Connected partners for collaborative commerce

Thus, with clarity of the benefits, what can we expect to see in 2021? I spent some time posing this question to some of the experts connected to bluewaveSELECT through our own network of trusted SAP Ariba guru’s, and I have tried to summarise the reoccurring expectations and predictions below. Please feel free to jump in and add your own thoughts in the comments below, as I’m sure there are lots of points of discussion that can be further explored.

5 Common Themes/Talking Points

1.   Procurement must lead the way

2.   We need to rebuild from Supply Chain disruption

3.   We need to protect Supply Chain resiliency

4.   There must be better engagement with suppliers

5.   Procurement must digitalise/move to the cloud

In summary, 2021 presents itself as a year whereby procurement technology has a vital role to play in the restoration of confidence which companies desperately need to invest in regaining a competitive edge and ensure their operational resiliency. We could say that if last year was the year of disrupting the supply chain, that this year will be the year we restore it. The way to do this is to look at embracing digitalisation. The requirement to do this was accelerated by the pandemic, and by moving from linear to more dynamic supplier relationships procurement leaders can truly position themselves to drive innovation.

Through integrating approaches to digitalise business processes we can extend visibility and foster collaboration. By generating a full circle view of the supply chain we can ultimately improve cash flow, delivery of products and sustainability efforts. The impetus lies on procurement to lead the way. The hope through 2021 will be that across the globe attention will turn to our procurement leaders, and they can turn disruption into resiliency through pushing a holistic cloud based approach to offer valuable insights garnered from the data underlying spend decisions.

More so now than ever, my discussions kept turning back to the need to engage with suppliers too. By recognising the power of the supplier and the relationships with them organisations can align with suppliers to further understand specific KPIs and build a more solid trust. The suppliers can be part of the driving force in helping supply chains restructure to remain resilient. Spend Management will lead this change and the suppliers fall into this area. As such companies should probably be relooking at how they manage their own supplier bases. The result will be that companies continue to incorporate network driven and digital strategies to better engage with both existing and new suppliers.

Do you agree with these viewpoints? Do you have anything to add or discuss?

Tyler Watts manages the SAP Ariba delivery desk at bluewaveSELECT – if you want to get in touch to discuss anything relating to SAP Ariba, the staffing market, or collaborating on topics related to SAP Procurement then please reach out directly using the below contact details.

[email protected]



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