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Guided Procurement
5 min read

How to Achieve Guided Procurement

The more productive your workforce is, the greater your company's profit margin will be. Unfortunately, stating employee productivity as a goal and achieving an improvement that results in hard ROI are two different stories. Consider that employee productivity requires organizations to ensure teams are adequately motivated while simultaneously providing the right tools to ensure they are not getting bogged down with complex, lengthy or otherwise mundane processes.   

Although many productivity tools are on the market today, one reality holds true. Processes are always changing as new technology is released or teams undergo an organizational restructuring. Therefore, implementing a top-of-the-line solution as a part of this year's team goals is only a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. Therefore, guaranteeing employee productivity long-term requires a foundational solution that can improve the user experience while being simple enough to adjust so that teams don't need to rely on expensive development resources to make adjustments frequently. Guided procurement allows users to follow preset workflows in a question and answer format that ensures compliance with company budgets.

Guided Procurement With The Guided Process Engine

For our team, we found that both concerns could be addressed in a single tool, which we know more formally as the Guided Process Engine (GPE). By using GPE as part of a team's procurement process, end users are guided through otherwise complex tasks, often through the completion of a questionnaire. The result is a process that is a lot simpler than the otherwise difficult alternative.   

To paint the picture, we answer the question of what the GPE is in the context of the ConvergentIS Procurement Gateway and how it applies to businesses looking to create a guided procurement process.  

Setting the Stage for the End-User  

By definition, the Guided Process Engine is a low-code/no-code tool designed for use by a team of Business Analysts, Functional Analysts, and Developers. Functionally, the tool aims to simplify SAP processes and transactions by retrieving data by asking plain English questions. 

The tool further looks at simplification by displaying only what is necessary for the end user to complete their desired task. Values can be auto-populated based on a user account or the process they are participating in, company-specific terminology can be incorporated, and users have immediate access to line-by-line help via icons, text and other messages.   

For example, the Guided Process Engine supports users through notification creation by ensuring the correct notification type is selected through user inputs and other decision logic. Then, based on the user's responses, the application will guide users to the next set of applicable inputs. Additionally, a default response may be pulled from the user's profile or through SAP to further reduce manual entry.  

In recognition of this gap, SAP has made investments in the platform AppGyver. Although recognized as the world’s first professional no-code platform, the solution still faced gaps in its usage. For this reason, the ConvergentIS Guided Process Engine becomes complementary to AppGyver, solving for the mobile use case, where multiple questions and branch points are required for a single user. In comparison, at present AppGyver only covers branches between users. Therefore, while GPE can cover multiple questions and decision points, AppGyver is restricted to a single decision. 

Supporting Teams Through Growth  

As teams undergo periods of high growth, they may find that additional processes are needed, including those that will also need a guided solution. The Guided Process Engine then offers additional benefit by supporting users through the creation of additional processes or the adjustment of existing processes that need to be shortened or updated in terms of criteria. As an example, teams may find themselves in a position where they need to change the number of people required to approve a Purchase Requisition. Using targeted, user-friendly questions, teams are equipped with the foundation to create a system where processes are followed, and data is updated in a way that reflects these processes.  

The result is that any end user can take on the role of a designer, with the ability to model their process flow by adding screens, user input controls and other decision points into a Fiori Wizard that enables a stepwise process for creating and updating SAP documents.  

The Guided Process Engine holds many innate abilities that, when applied in the ConvergentIS Rapid Vendor Portal, can aid in simplifying the end-to-end procurement process. Consider a few of these examples in the section to follow. 

Procurement Use Cases, Simplified   

In looking at the Vendor Management version of the procurement portal, the GPE provides advantages for sourcing and supplier visibility. Namely, through automation, business users could complete a questionnaire form via a step-by-step wizard and dashboard to show when a supplier is compatible with sustainability criteria. 

Looking at indirect procurement, Guided Process Engine has provided teams with the foundation to reduce the number of free text entry Purchase Orders. Instead, by using a catalogue-style process, it becomes easier to ensure that team members are purchasing items that exist as part of a negotiated contract. The intention is that when users only see the items they are pre-approved to buy, teams remain on track to achieving their savings goals, thereby decreasing maverick spend while simultaneously taking advantage of volume discounts from specific suppliers. Moreover, teams have also benefitted from improved processing times with a guided process for simplified requisitioning via a step-by-step user experience many liken to online retail shopping. 

Finally, considering a more service-oriented application, the Guided Process Engine can help users through the collaborative process of creating an estimate, including details about the people, schedule, time and cost components of a services PO and guiding it through the approval process. The intention is that by standardizing the process from the beginning, teams are set up for automation, thereby ensuring manual efforts are reduced and external workers are paid on time, every time.

Although just three examples, users can quickly see where having a guided process that does not require coding can be applied in their own technology landscape. For many teams, these benefits become evident in the ability to eliminate the need for having IT involved in building these processes, thereby putting the power into the hands of the very people who use the technology. 

We encourage users to visit our product page linked below to learn more about building the foundation for a guided procurement process.