Challenge

Like many global companies, Accenture does business with a high volume of suppliers. As Accenture’s businesses have become more diverse and the pace of business increases, the types of suppliers and the process complexities of these relationships has also grown.

Onboarding new suppliers is an intensive process of data collection and entries, many of which are duplicated across various Accenture systems. Accenture buyer teams needed agility but were faced with delays in engaging suppliers because of siloed legacy systems that resulted from different risk management requirements and lack of integrated solutions from the many stakeholders. Accenture Procurement reached out to Accenture’s internal IT and Accenture Technology blockchain organizations for a solution.

What Accenture did

Together with Accenture Procurement, an internal IT and blockchain team designed an innovative True Supplier Marketplace solution—a new model and process facilitated by a new, shared procurement platform. The platform brings buyer teams and suppliers together onto a single, shared blockchain network that is accessible by a distributed application with a streamlined user experience. Over the course of a year, the project team took the idea from proof of concept to minimum viable product development to deployment into production.

From source to settle, Accenture buyer teams rely on data veracity to operate. Traditional models force manual effort to facilitate constant cleansing, refreshing, and maintenance across siloed systems. With the new True Supplier Marketplace solution, blockchain technology creates a single source of truth, allowing each party to own, control, and access data where it resides, providing benefit to both buyers and suppliers and greatly reducing issues of data quality. One shared platform means data is only entered once and is then shared across all of Accenture’s systems and teams.

This shared single source of truth provides transparency of onboarding of suppliers, allowing Accenture buyer teams to quickly verify suppliers. Suppliers are given full visibility of all required steps and progress. In Accenture’s new model, suppliers create their own accounts and single profiles that are reusable across many buyer teams. Data entry forms dynamically adjust based on the information entered, asking for more or less information as needed to enhance efficiency. Communication between the supplier and buyer teams is done within the platform using real-time notifications on actions taken.

An important step in the onboarding journey is the inclusion of risk assessments for suppliers to complete. These embedded assessments essentially enforce compliance through the workflow design, confirming suppliers complete all required assessments before they are onboarded. The assessment results and any subsequent updates are stored and recorded to the blockchain ledger. This design greatly reduces supplier noncompliance risk to Accenture.

Suppliers are given digital identities they own, including a third-party check verifications and credibility scoring. Suppliers manage and maintain their own data, eliminating manual data entry by Accenture teams and helping supplier information to stay up to date because suppliers make updates in real time. In addition, every update generates a real-time track-and-trace audit trail.

Suppliers’ private data is shared only with their consent. Data permissions and privacy are built in so that parties are only able to access information that is relevant to them. Personal and private data is stored off-chain to address GDPR compliance but is attested on-chain for user identity authentication. Accenture buyers only have views of their own supplier relationships and consented data. A secure, shared identity data store is encrypted, pervasive, and persistent. Overall, a shared digital solution is demonstrating to be far more secure than disparate systems sharing information by phone or e-mail.

True Supplier Marketplace features:

A single user interface for both supplier and all buyer teams provides process transparency and speeds onboarding.

Corporate identity profile provides a single point of consented access to recent data.

The system identifies low-risk suppliers and helps fast-track onboarding because suppliers provide only relevant data and risk assessments.

Maintenance and liability of profile data shifts to supplier to improve data veracity.

Onboarding progress status and smart notifications facilitate bi-directional transparency between buyer and supplier.

Efficient onboarding and up-to-date payment data supports discount capture and on-time payments.

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Value delivered

The True Supplier Marketplace has dramatically improved Accenture’s approach to enabling suppliers and managing the relationships. By giving control and possession of data to the true owner, the supplier, the True Supplier Marketplace decreases onboarding time, improves compliance, and facilitates the journey to touchless source-to-pay processing. Accenture buyers are able to procure resources for Accenture teams with shorter lead times and timely invoice processing and payments.

The True Supplier Marketplace is in production and continues to roll out across Accenture globally, among the first live production blockchain solutions in the market. Its blockchain technology facilitates creation of a decentralized marketplace for buyers and suppliers, speeds the formation of new business relations, confirms data synchronicity between parties, and provides tamper-evident auditability for transactions. The True Supplier Marketplace is offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-like service to businesses beyond Accenture to support a wide range of supplier management needs.

Key outcomes include:

  • Data entered once and used multiple times across all consented parties
  • Drastically reduced time spent by buyer procurement teams to maintain and update vendor master data
  • Decreased need for compliance controls to mitigate risk in managing supplier data
  • Improved data quality/scope risk mitigation
  • Cost reductions through reduced effort duplication, end-to-end data mutualization, automation of manual work, and reduced audit and tracking

95%

Compliance rate achieved through embedded risk assessments and workflow logic

73%

Reduction in time to onboard a supplier end to end—from 15 days to 4 days

39%

Reduction in manual data entry through automation and the reduction in number of questions, which improve efficiency and save money

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