Featured Resource: Procurement, platforms and the future.
In the beginning, there were point solutions. Solved a lot of spreadsheet headaches (data misentry, anyone?), but had their own challenges. Enter the solution suite — digitized processes, integrated modules, standardization — and end-to-end automation. Perfect.
Almost. As procurement organizations continue to move up the maturity curve, shortcomings in the solution suite model become increasingly apparent. The ability to extract and leverage all data across an enterprise is how procurement will find new ways to add value, control costs and expand influence. That is the power of a true end-to-end platform.
The Rise of the Platform Is Procurement’s Future.
In Part One of this series on the growing primacy of platforms in procurement, Jason Busch and Michael Lamoureux of Spend Matters start by defining what “platform” even means. The term gets used a lot – often inaccurately.
It’s much more than just an integrated solutions suite that’s cobbled together. The platform concept centers on building technology ecosystems that allow all participants to more easily incorporate new capabilities, apps and value-added services on top of core functionality as needed. It takes the suite idea and makes it scalable across an enterprise. Thinking about how interconnected enterprises operate — information, processes and workflows feeding back into each other — a truly end-to-end platform holds enormous potential in areas from sourcing, procurement, legal and accounting .
Key takeaways? Platforms deliver:
- Enhanced visibility for genuine, cross-enterprise data connectivity giving procurement far greater proactive capabilities.
- Seamless workflow, by directing users to the right application, with master data and other process information automatically plugged in.
- Post-project support and procurement event integration with key enterprise processes within and outside of procurement.
Just What Is an End-to-End Platform for Source to Pay?
Because procurement is constantly evolving, so are its needs. Part Two of this research series outlines what a best-of-breed platform needs to be. Configurable is a good place to start — workflow should be customizable from the organization down to the user level. An end-to-end platform should also support the often vastly different processes across spend categories with equally robust features and functions.
Of course, to do anything a platform needs borderless integration, internally and externally, with existing systems — ideally through open API, which adds a huge measure of flexibility and simplified upgrades. That also allows for growth down the road — of modules, functionality and enterprises.
Defining the Next Generation of S2P Platform.
Thinking about where procurement goes from here: Part Three of the series looks at what platforms need for procurement to deliver on its mission to provide support across the strategic continuum — from sourcing to contracts, and purchasing to pay.
Not just its own processes, but stakeholders’ as well. That’s because procurement is increasingly about managing supplier relationships and resources; and that, as we’ve seen in our blog series on third-party risk and featured resource guide is all about contract management and risk mitigation.
Achieving “proactive procurement” will require a cloud-based platform that has all the qualifications mentioned above, and combines S2P application capabilities with an enterprise business software framework. It needs to be adaptive — from category down to line item — configurable across processes, industries and geographies, accelerate workflow at every level, and provide consistent data from module to module, task to task and beyond.
In short, a cloud-based, end-to-end platform needs to empower a business with the confidence of a single source of data truth, and the capabilities to leverage it to make better decisions every time.