The power of integration and innovation: some benefits from combining procurement and finance on ERP

When you combine and integrate procurement and Finance processes on one system, it brings many benefits such as capturing data in one system, easier reporting, process optimization etc. In a blog by iQibt:  Inkoop en Finance, de Kracht van Integratie (in Dutch) Sarah Reitema clearly explains what the functional wins are when you integrate procurement and finance processes on one system.

From a technical point of view, combining finance and procurement processes on one system also brings a lot of benefits. Especially when a more innovative and user-friendly user interface is used. Such as SAP Fiori. This will lead to:

  • More efficient processes;
  • Improved data integrity;
  • More intuitive way of working;
  • Faster development time;
  • More opportunities for innovation.

In this blog I (Julian Kuipers) zoom in on the technical advantages of the integrated combination of Finance and Procurement.

Intuitive User Interface

In the past years SAP has invested heavily in its software to continuously improve the user experience. This results in time savings, more accurate data entry and process efficiency.

An example: previously, finance and procurement specialists often approached S/4HANA via the SAP GUI or SAP WebGUI. This way of working is generally associated with a steep learning curve. It takes a relatively large amount of energy to become proficient with the traditional Graphical User Interface (GUI). A knowledge gap soon grows between the specialists in these areas and the other employees. For the GUI specialists who work with the system on a daily basis, this way of working is not a problem. For other employees who have to submit order requests or submit incoming receipts in these GUIs, it becomes a different story. This group of employees perform relatively few actions through the GUIs, so they often run into problems. There is a high probability that this group of employees will work outside the system. As a result, you lose control over and logging of work activities and data used, among other things. In addition, work proceeds less efficiently because there is no help from the system.

To make working with SAP Applications easier, SAP developed a new User Interface called Fiori. Fiori works with apps that are intuitive and easy to use. This has the great advantage that the acceptance rate of these apps is very high and also the input of data is consistent. Fiori uses an HTML5 framework, so it can be interpreted by any browser and no additional software is required, unlike the SAP GUI or SAP NWBC.

SAP Fiori gives the user access to one or more apps. To start an app, the user clicks on the tile with the name and description of the app. Almost all employees will be able to use this without explanation as it is very similar to interacting with any smartphone or tablet. Fiori uses role-based views so that employees only see the apps they have access to and use the full app, not just a portion of it as was often the case with traditional transactions. This makes usage simpler and there is no noise from unnecessary data or functionality.

All data in one place

Technically, it is ideal that all data used (both read and written) during a process is available in one place. By handling both the financial and procurement processes in one system, you have one central place with all the necessary data (one single source of truth). With one call to one back-end, the Fiori app retrieves both the financial and procurement data associated with an entry on a budget site or an order. That’s what we call efficient.

The same goes for showing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a dashboard. Because we have the ability to use standard Fiori apps from SAP, we can also use the standard Analytic apps that show dashboard with the relevant KPIs around procurement and finance; there is no need to create the relevant KPIs ourselves.

Because you have a single source of truth, you have accurate real-time data, which also makes analysis easier. Data from all processes, can be used directly in an analytical query from the same source.

Easy management

The use of SAP Fiori brings another advantage. By using SAP Fiori you stay within the framework of SAP. No expensive investments are required to use SAP Fiori. In fact, SAP Fiori has become the primary user interface for many actions in the S/4 HANA system. SAP Fiori applications can be turned on or “activated” free of charge. Activation is a matter of a few steps and sometimes some configuration. In the most cases activation can be done with multiple apps simultaneously.

In addition, the use of standard SAP Fiori apps reduces the management burden. These apps are maintained by SAP. Only updates and patches are required. This gives you safe and reliable apps.

Out-of-the-box innovation

SAP has developed standard applications that use machine learning. For example, consider an application that creates rules within the business partner file for maintaining data quality. These rules are then automatically evaluated when creating and modifying business partners (for example, creditors, debtors, suppliers or customers). This ensures that data quality is efficiently maintained. Because you are using the best practices and Fiori, you can use these innovative apps without spending a lot of energy (read time and money). The same goes for SAP’s embedded analytics apps. These allow you to use real-time data within a process, such as the availability of a budget for making an order. SAP Fiori offers standard apps and thus the possibility to implement innovative solutions with relatively little effort in a short period of time.

In short, both functionally and technically, the combination of finance and procurement processes on one ERP system brings many benefits. When the Fiori UX is also used, the result is a fast, solid and user-friendly ERP system.

The power of integration and innovation: some benefits from combining procurement and finance on ERP
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