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The Transition of Spend Management to Intelligent Spend Management

With the world of intelligence finally upon us, it is now expected that all aspects of business will be revolutionized. Businesses were ready to experience innovation in a lot of business processes and opportunities, but they weren’t expecting such a massive response. 

The world of intelligence has made management easier and simpler. With new innovations such as intelligent spend management, managing costs and expenditures has become easier, as well. 

For those who are new to the concept, spend management is the tried and tested practice of comprehensively managing all of your purchasing and supplier relations. The business accounts for every dollar spent toward purchasing. It then integrates all purchase-related decisions to make sure that buying happens flawlessly and suppliers are paid back in full. 

Spend management has always been a key priority for traditional and contemporary businesses. However, with intelligent means of spend management, this process has become even more reliable and trustworthy. 

With intelligent spend management, businesses can move beyond the traditional definition of spend management and explore horizons that have yet been untested. As part of my partnership with SAP Ariba, I attended the event for SAP Ariba Intelligent Spend Management and hosted a panel in Barcelona. The panel included David Herman and Victor Wykoff. Both the prodigies sat with me and discussed the techniques of spend management and how businesses can further perfect it. 

Moving Beyond Traditional

Businesses investing in intelligent spend management are moving beyond traditional means of expenditures and are making processes more integrated. Individuals charged with supply chain, procurement, finance, and accounts payable are all witnessing this evolution, as the gaps between these departments are being abridged through the use of intelligent spend management. 

Businesses across the globe are now facing pressure from the industry to become extremely disruptive, nimble, and flexible. Because of the imperative need for being efficient, spend management professionals linked with the business buying process are required to drive transformation forward and adapt all the new business models that are being thrown their way. 

While efficiency and productivity should still be delivered, the use of technology in spend management has brought a lot more to the agenda, as well. The spend management agenda nowadays is focused on: 

  • Delivering transparency to your suppliers 
  • Creating an effective way to connect with your business partners, including suppliers 
  • Revolutionizing the information at hand to make important business decisions for the future. 
  • Developing new and interactive models for delivery 
  • Using the data at hand to generate insights related to the topic

Hence, making the process intelligent and driving more intelligence in it is imperative. But, this whole process isn’t void of complications. Oftentimes: 

  • User experiences can be complex. Such complex user experiences tend to push companies away from adopting models for a greater period. 
  • Disjointed systems can hamper collaboration between suppliers and partners. 
  • Disconnected teams aren’t able to share info or communicate the right way. 

These complications can serve as major road blocks toward widespread implementation of intelligent spend models. 

The Solution

SAP introduced a solution for all companies looking for means of intelligent spend management. The whole process can become complicated and misconstrued if you go for it with the assistance of a novice firm. 

During our talks, we discussed the framework usually followed by SAP for ensuring Intelligent Spend Management for a client: 

Digital Platform

The framework implemented by SAP starts with a foundational digital platform. This digital platform has the capabilities to manage data coming from any source in any format. The sources can either be first party or third party and the formats can be structured or unstructured. This digital platform serves as the first step toward intelligent spend management and helps support the integration, development, and extension of all of your business applications. 

Intelligent Technologies 

A spend management program is made intelligent through the use of multiple technologies that are meant for this purpose. It all starts with AI and ML models that are configured to work on data and generate actionable insight. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning both work in tandem to configure data and generate results. Additionally, Internet of Things, blockchain, and numerous other tech innovations are incorporated together to assist in intelligent processes. 

Implementation 

The intelligence generated by these models is then delivered through intelligent suites that implement the insights across different functions of the purchase process. From accounting to supply chain, employees, spending, managing customers, and supplier management, all parts of the process are made intelligent. 

Critical Requirements for Intelligent Spend Management 

Here we mention some of the critical steps that you should undertake before implementing intelligent spend management. Follow the list below for more: 

Manage Data with a Nimble Approach

Managing your data is the first step toward intelligent spend management. As we already know, all machine models focused on ML will only work well if the data provided to them is workable. 

Your system should hence interact with all the data that is being generated through spending. From social sources to business processes, suppliers and many other areas, your business should work on managing spending intelligently. You should look for newer approaches to data management rather than following the legacy techniques used in the nineties. SAP has worked with data for spend management, and they know the importance of improving data quality before sending it through data models. 

End to End Intelligence

The intelligence you achieve should be carried on from one process to another to ensure end to end intelligence across the globe. Your business can only truly achieve if you are able to limit the presence of siloes and have an end to end approach for data management. 

Connect Across your Organization

The intelligent spend management process isn’t just limited to monitoring net spend; it touches numerous parts of your business. The parts of your business that are impacted include the core financial manufacturing processes, supply chain, sales, marketing processes, and human resources. 

Knowing how your spend management can have impacts across the board, you need to ensure connection across the organization. 

Go Beyond Boundaries

The data you require for managing functions such as supply chain processes or procurement won’t readily be available within your organization. Instead, you will find this data outside of the boundaries of your organization. 

Be ready to connect with suppliers and external sources of procurement to generate data that is relevant to them. Keep an eye on data at all times to improve results and to ensure that all touch points remain connected. 

Customize 

The intelligent spend management process doesn’t have to be the same for two different companies. You can customize it with your own extensions and enhancements. There are certain nuances that apply specifically to your business. If you want to tailor your solutions, you will have to implement customized enhancements. The best path to success here is to have experts on board that help you build your own extensions that are best suited for your organization. 

Be a part of the intelligent world through your very own intelligent spend management program. This program should help you monitor your progress for better supplier relations and purchase decisions. 

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