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Turning process friction into flow

Going beyond procurement process mining with new capabilities to deliver major value.


Call for change

Accenture’s Procurement function is transforming to deliver value above and beyond what is expected of traditional procurement. We’ve shifted our focus past the traditional role of managing transactional compliance to also becoming a partner to our business functions, enabling Accenture’s bottom line. It’s the reason we changed our name to Procurement Plus several years ago.

Our systems landscape is SAP® Ariba® On Demand and a single global instance of SAP S/4HANA®. Our journey involves standardizing, simplifying and automating the elements of traditional procurement by digitizing processes, moving to a frictionless buying experience and developing analytics to enable intelligent procurement supported by data-driven decisions.

In working toward these goals for our mature and digitized procure-to-pay (P2P) process, our Procurement Plus team realized that despite running single global system instances, workflow variances existed between regions, categories and spend levels across processes.

Attempting to understand those variances was difficult—not knowing where to look, how, why, and what was different. Conversations with teams that influenced the differences often became subjective and emotional. Driving change this way was time consuming and problematic, so we looked for a better approach.

When tech meets human ingenuity

That approach was to select and implement Celonis, a market-leading process mining and execution management solution. Celonis is designed to work extensively with cloud-based tools, and already had many credentials in the procurement domain. For these reasons, it was a particularly good fit for our needs.

Gaining powerful visibility

Our Procurement Plus team started with out-of-the-box capabilities like process mining and analytics dashboards, focused on validating and reviewing order and invoice processing data. By simply leveraging the basic capabilities of process mining, we gained powerful visibility into our processes. For example, in requisitioning through SAP Ariba across 50 countries, we detected 14,000 ways a requisition could pass through the system.

The findings demonstrated just how much opportunity Procurement Plus had to drive standardization. We are using these insights and the powerful visual flows created by the tool to have fact-based conversations with teams about their processes, to identify and remove bottlenecks, and to simplify processes.

Leveraging these insights, we met with the team of one particular country to address their unusually high 60-hour average requisition approval cycle time. The Celonis visual flows showed the extent of process variation in comparison to other countries. The tool’s flexibility, which allows filtering and different views, enabled us to respond in real time to users’ questions. The visualizations led to the agreement on a series of actions to improve the local process. The changes and automations implemented reduced the cycle time by 75 percent to just 15 hours.

Our Procurement Plus team continues to use Celonis insights to remove friction from our processes and drive the change needed to advance P2P standardization and simplification Accenture-wide. We moved from simple to more complex use cases, and in that process, we have built customized analytics and expanded into using the native execution and automation functionalities of Celonis.

Taking a methodical approach

The team is taking a methodical approach to addressing challenges not only around standardization, but also around addressing non-compliance, improving the quality of execution and enabling delivery efficiency. At the same time, the team is addressing solution and customization gaps in our cloud tools.

Our approach includes the following aspects:


Creating analytics for end-to-end visibility and data-driven insights across purchasing, contracts, invoices, supplier setup and vendor master data.


Using the action flows to detect errors, outliers, delays, and non-compliance and to support audit and other business requirements.


Implementing smart notifications to reduce manual effort and drive correct behavior for approvals and compliance violations.


Using Celonis to track KPIs across 50 countries and 16 market units. It compares KPIs, sets value thresholds and generates automated notifications.


Organizing KPIs into customized reports that are automatically distributed weekly, strengthening our ability to achieve the outcomes being measured.

The solution empowers and enables us to get real-time intelligent operational data insights, allowing us to have fact-based conversations about opportunities to remove friction.

PATRICIA MILLER / Managing Director, Procurement Plus – Digital Transformation, Accenture

Advancing our transformation

Two years into our journey, our Procurement Plus team is taking advantage of the newest features of Celonis—the Execution Management System (EMS) combined with process mining, data analytics, task mining, execution application, action flows, automation and machine learning capabilities.

We’re developing new ways of working to allocate, prioritize and automate the execution of work for our delivery teams. The execution applications that drive workflow are helping us to digitize and measure previously offline processes, ensure the prioritization of critical items, and standardize communication with suppliers and internal stakeholders. The execution applications are also helping drive delivery efficiency while providing insights on processes that highlight systemic issues, such as a lack of training or insufficient communication to end users.

These uses of the execution applications allow our teams to make a step change in the way they execute the P2P processes. The way we make use of Celonis capabilities truly demonstrates the power of technology and human ingenuity. The EMS capability is deployed across many processes including invoice processing, duplicate invoice detection, invoice approval and assisted buying.

Some examples of achievements include:

  • We deployed the combined execution application and action flows capability to complement our existing technology and automate the necessary validations our buying agents conduct. Outcomes include a 95 percent reduction of actionable transactions for the team, FTE savings of 90 percent and a further 10 percent reduction in cycle time.
  • We digitized a previously non-standard process by combining automated, smart notifications and an execution application. The latter guides the Accounts Payable agents through user engagement and escalation using messaging, direct calls and emails with predefined, customized communication templates. As a result, in the pilot countries within four months of using the execution app, invoices approved by the due date increased by 23 percent. This combination of Celonis capabilities further complements our cloud solutions to drive efficiency for delivery, propelling Accenture’s Procurement to the next level of the transformation journey.

A valuable difference

Celonis helps our Procurement Plus organization to drive efficiencies, compliance and standardization intelligently and at scale. It supports efficient and durable transformation.

Celonis is system agnostic, thus our Procurement Plus team continues to expand the use of the tool across other software solutions. For our recent deployment of SAP Fieldglass, we are exploring use cases to drive cycle time and efficiency benefits to further strengthen the business case of the deployment. We are also leveraging Celonis in Accenture’s new Sustainable Procurement solution and initiative.

The data-driven approach to diagnostics and execution drives speed to insights and value to help achieve superior business outcomes. This is why Accenture is integrating Celonis with SynOps to provide this same augmentation of the Intelligent Operations journey for our clients.

Highlights of Accenture’s procurement transformation outcomes include:


Annualized working capital benefits delivered by having greater visibility into our pending invoices.


Reduction in invoice approval time.


Improvement in request-to-order time.

We have made Celonis integral to our SynOps process mining capabilities to baseline current performance of KPIs, identify process bottlenecks, variations and non-conformance faster than before and are turning the insights into automated remediations.

RAMKI RAMAN / CTO – Intelligent Finance and Financial Services, Accenture Operations