A global food-products giant found that the processes involving indirect spend management—such as goods (e.g.: office, cleaning, lab supplies) or services (professional, marketing services), required significant improvement.
The company’s legacy indirect procurement and supply chain management tools and processes at business units around the world were slow and offered limited functionality. Purchasers were forced to take shortcuts to ensure that goods actually arrived when and where they were needed, resulting in backlog work. Additionally, procurement lacked the real-time visibility it needed to better inform a strategic approach to indirect supply chain sourcing and feed accurate data to other areas of the business (such as finance).
Procurement needed to be fast, aligned with business expectations and compliant with contracts and policies. So the company sought a way of transforming into an intelligent procurement function with globally harmonized processes. Perhaps most importantly, the new process needed to be quick and user-friendly. The company wanted a strategic partner that could help implement new ways of working for talent and digital transformation—all underpinned by data, AI, analytics and a cloud-first approach.
When tech meets human ingenuity
Starting with two European pilot markets, Accenture and the company developed a strategic operating and design plan for a cloud-enabled, intelligent procurement model that would offer flawless service, greater visibility and insights, and overall value.
The team selected Coupa, a leading procurement platform, and worked to ensure that the Coupa solution was fully loaded with content that would efficiently guide users to the best buying options. The user interface was customized to display specific products and services based on individual business users' needs. The team also built in algorithms that automatically populate fields based on the user profile, as well as an AI bot that provides real-time support prompts.
Agile prototyping involved regularly presenting progress to users in the pilot countries. This iterative process ensured acceptance ahead of the launch—and also eliminated the need for in-person training.
The team also layered Coupa on top of the company’s core SAP ERP system to speed up orders and payments, and allow data to flow seamlessly across other company functions such as corporate finance.
Operational excellence achieved with faster, compliant ordering, validation and payment, as well as real-time data flow to other functions.
Iterative development of the interface, with regular user feedback informing modifications, led to quick adoption and reduced in-person training time.
The length of the procurement process from budget requisition to invoice validation has been cut by more than half.
Spend optimized for savings increased from 40% to 65% after rollout in the two pilot countries. It will be 90% after global rollout.
The number of months to reimagine and implement an intelligent, cloud-based procurement system globally.
A valuable difference
In the two pilot markets, the time taken for indirect supply chain procurement—from budget requisition to invoice validation—has been cut from a full week to less than a day and a half. Goods arrive on time, suppliers are paid faster and the company has real-time visibility into procurement and spend.
Spend optimized for savings through existing contracts and catalogs increased from 40% to 65%. It will be 90% after the global rollout.
The project is also being expanded. A new cloud module will streamline supply chain sourcing across the source-to-contract process, and Accenture will deploy AI-driven, risk-management analytics. The new solution will extract insights across contracts, POs, invoices and spending patterns to support spend-cost models for greater visibility into changing buying patterns—and provide insights for enhanced vendor management, supply chain management, and supply chain planning.
This end-to-end transformation, which equipped people with new ways of working through the power of digital, data, AI and cloud, delivered the company a more resilient, agile and responsible supply chain that supports growth.