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Company Industry Company Size Revenue
Accenture plc Professional services 513,000 US$43.2 billion

Executive Overview

Professional services company Accenture plc wanted to standardize purchasing processes and enable better informed, data driven decision making on procurement. Using the Customer First engagement methodology, SAP helped the firm introduce the Intelligent Spend Management concept through integration of SAP S/4HANA and the SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing solution. As a result, Accenture has increased spend visibility and can guide employees to make smarter purchasing choices in line with corporate goals.

Before: Challenges and Opportunities

  • Simplify, standardize, and automate sourcing, purchasing, and payment processes
  • Identify and address process inefficiencies, accelerating operations and increasing spend visibility across the organization
  • Establish the procurement function as a value-add service and business partner, supporting corporate procurement strategies

Why SAP

  • Single, digital platform based on SAP S/4HANA to support the Intelligent Spend Management concept
  • Automation of procure to pay processes using the SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing solution
  • Use of SAP Fieldglass solutions to manage services based on statements of work
  • Close collaboration with SAP experts as part of Customer First, and guidance provided through SAP Services and Support and SAP ActiveAttention services

After: Value Driven Results

  • Improved the purchasing experience, resulting in higher spend on catalog – thanks to the guided buying capability
  • Acceleration of the procure-to-pay process, with faster requisition workflows and transparency across procurement activities
  • Identification of opportunities to enhance procurement efficiency
  • 5x

    Increase in the proportion of catalog-based purchases

  • 1

    Global platform to support all spend management activity

  • 45%

    Product and service catalog usage

Accenture logo

Objectives

Embracing Innovation to Drive New Value

With a client base that includes 91 of the Fortune 100 and customers in more than 120 countries, Accenture plc is one of the world’s leading professional services firms. To empower its clients to embrace innovation and drive new value, Accenture must be at the forefront of the digital economy.

However, non-standardized processes and workflows were preventing the company from implementing end-to-end digital processes across its procurement operations. Furthermore, disconnected workflows and a complex user experience were resulting in a high amount of off-catalog purchases and manual processing of statement of work (SOW)-based spend. This resulted in higher costs and reduced control of buying behaviors.

Pioneering an intelligent approach to spend management

Accenture wanted to deliver insights across multiple spend categories and regions to support better-informed procurement decision-making. Furthermore, it wanted to be able to guide people to channels that aligned with its corporate procurement strategies.

To harmonize its procurement operations and improve spend visibility across different categories and regions, Accenture embarked on a digital transformation of its procure-to-pay processes based on the Intelligent Spend Management concept. This would involve digitalizing and automating processes and integrating sourcing, purchasing, and payment solutions across the organization.

Solution

Partnering with SAP Using a Customer-First Approach

As a partner throughout Accenture’s journey to becoming an intelligent enterprise, SAP collaborated with the company to help ensure it had the technology, expertise, and support it needed to achieve intelligent spend management. Using a Customer First approach, the team developed an outcome success plan. This addressed obstacles and opportunities, including alignment on governance, communication, and metrics.

With six months on global design and a subsequent implementation, the project team established a single, digital procurement platform based on SAP S/4HANA. This was integrated with the SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing solution in one of the first and largest instances of guided buying capabilities globally.

The team also integrated SAP Fieldglass solutions with the spend management platform to automate the management of SOW-based services. In addition, SAP helped Accenture deploy a process mining application to help it visualize buying behaviors.

Managing change to achieve a smooth transformation

Partnering with SAP, Accenture devised and executed a comprehensive change management strategy. This involved carefully executed messaging, stakeholder identification and engagement, communications, and training sessions to help ensure that the transformation went smoothly.

“We needed to ensure that we have the right businesspeople at the table for all deployments, not just to define the requirements for the solution but to continue to focus on the outcomes we said we wanted to accomplish,” comments Patricia Miller, Managing Director of Digital Transformation for Procurement Plus at Accenture.

Together, SAP and Accenture are continuing to invest in experience because this is key to shaping and influencing buying behaviors, which will put us on the right path for our intelligence spend management journey.
Eli Lambert Managing Director, Global IT, Finance Applications, Accenture
A woman stands in an atrium using a large touchscreen as the sun rises through the windows.

Results

Shaping Buying Behaviors with Intelligent Processes

Following its spend management transformation, Accenture has been able to digitalize procurement operations, resulting in reduced manual effort and accelerated purchase-to-pay turnaround times. With a single, global, digital platform delivering end-to-end transaction transparency and real-time reporting, increased spend visibility supports strategic decision-making.

Guided buying capabilities and use of robotic process automation and machine learning to provide immediate user assistance when needed are simplifying purchasing processes and providing an enhanced user experience. As a result of this, Accenture has seen a significant increase in the use of the product and service catalog – up from single digits to 45% – reducing costs by directing buyers to products with contracted prices.

Accenture has also achieved centralized management of SOW spend with new supplier rationalization capabilities. Meanwhile, the company is benefiting from improved collaboration with suppliers as well as access to a network of global suppliers.

Positioning the procurement function as a strategic partner

According to Miller, the new platform is helping the procurement function add more value. She explains, “We’re bringing procurement to the next level of partner and value contributor within our organization and helping drive major spend decisions that are being made by the business.”

Future Plans

Partnering with SAP to Deliver Next-Generation Procurement Capabilities

Accenture remains laser-focused on its strategic objectives and continuously strives to find new ways to innovate. Projects currently underway include the worldwide implementation of SAP Fieldglass solutions, following a successful six month pilot in Japan.

“We really recognize that the journey doesn’t end when the solution is deployed,” says Miller. “Throughout the transformation of our procurement function, we have been looking at different opportunities and adding on multiple components to drive frictionless exchange between our procurement systems.”

Bringing a best-practice approach to procurement

Supported by SAP, Accenture is now bringing its best-practice approach to intelligent spend management to life for its clients. “We’ve seen that streamlining procurement services can accelerate business, and never more so than in this unprecedented time when we’re clearly seeing how goods and services are the fuel that power and keep a business running,” explains Eli Lambert, Managing Director of Global IT and Finance Applications at Accenture.

With SAP solutions that are aligned with Accenture's overall cloud strategy, Accenture’s procurement and IT organizations continue to partner with SAP. This enables the company to take advantage of new innovations, collaborate on the road map, and constantly measure progress and refine its capabilities and approaches.

Lambert concludes, “As a partner in our transformation, SAP is helping us understand and evaluate the potential of its solutions to help ensure we’re getting the right value over time."

Featured Solutions and Services

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SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing

SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing is a best-in-class, easy-to-use procure-to-pay solution that helps companies effectively manage all spend-related processes and ensure negotiated savings reach the bottom line.

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Guided buying delivers a simple experience for purchasing goods and services. It guides employees to use preferred suppliers, processes, and policies, resulting in happy employees and compliant spend.

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The world's largest business network – a dynamic, digital marketplace where companies connect to get business done.

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