SAP Work Zone is a tool within SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) best known for creating personalized and intuitive digital workplace experiences for employees and contractors. While most recognize Work Zone as being sold in combination with SAP SuccessFactors, it is much more than a HR tool and can be used for lots of other verticals. It can be used to combine any user experience by providing easy access to relevant business apps and processes, information, and communication tools. As a result, the SAP Work Zone concept can gain increasing relevance in procurement and the buyer-supplier relationship. In this context, Work Zone can take a business's existing applications and extend them further to create end-to-end procurement experiences for purchasing teams and the suppliers they frequently engage with.
Work Zone provides many key benefits that aid a single-entry point (or portal) for SAP and non-SAP applications, processes, communications and other relevant information. The "portal" concept is far from new, being introduced back when the Internet first gained popularity. Portals have since faced mixed opinions; although they help with communication, they also may be difficult to get up and running or are only linked to a single ERP, a subset of the necessary data. That said, businesses tend to agree that a portal-like technology such as SAP Work Zone is necessary to link ongoing conversations with suppliers, manufacturers or others back to their organization’s ERP.
Our team has since taken the concept of SAP Work Zone and extended it into a vendor portal, that delivers several new capabilities in a consistent solution, including collaboration and content in the form of workspaces, knowledge bases, a full content management system, and mobile access. With the right dashboard, suppliers and manufacturers can communicate with greater ease, and errors resulting from miscommunications are reduced.
Why is a Supply Chain Portal More Necessary Today Than Ever Before?
According to McKinsey, procurement leaders have made the unanimous agreement that five central themes will govern procurement recovery. Among these are recalibrating cost-savings targets with additional value-creation strategies, unlocking new opportunities by investing in supplier relationships, accelerating value capture through spending analysis and helping employees adapt to new working models by reinvigorating both core and new capabilities. Keep in mind that these trends are in addition to ongoing concerns procurement leaders face regarding managing manual processes, difficulties sharing delivery information and payment reconciliation.
It's true; these impending concerns touch several different processes that may appear rather disjoined from each other. However, with the concept of a supplier portal, they can be addressed with a single solution.
Benefits of Introducing a Supplier Portal
Enabling a supplier portal as a Work Zone for SAP offers purchasing organizations a host of benefits. Among them are:
Self-Service for Suppliers: A supplier portal provides businesses with a lens into your ERP system. The portal can facilitate the visibility into the information a given user is entitled to while keeping confidential information private. They enable businesses to avoid the long email chain or a classic telephone tag game that would typically occur when an order is delayed, or a supplier is wondering when their invoice will be paid. Work Zone enables suppliers to make these inquiries online and receive immediate response.
Greater Insights into Decision-Making Data and Easy UX for Sourcing Teams: By combining all data into a single source of truth, businesses can accelerate value capture with spending analysis. With all information easily available, businesses can efficiently make comparisons and run simulations that allow them to take advantage of cost savings that would otherwise be hard to pinpoint.
Ability for Collaboration: Portals allow suppliers and buyers to gain a shared view of relevant data. Therefore, no discrepancies exist in information such as performance scorecards, exceptions in the process or necessary corrective actions. As a result, teams can work together to find solutions to problems as they arise or consider new opportunities to gain value from each other or work more collaboratively.
Supplier Enablement: SAP Work Zone provides capabilities for anyone with a desktop or mobile device and an Internet connection to connect to a portal. With this platform, businesses are given the foundation to create an optimized user interface. When done correctly, minimal (if any) training investments will be required. Additionally, portals enable additional tiers of suppliers to automate their routine transactions (going beyond Tier 1 engagements).
Opportunities for Touchless Operations: Portal-based solutions have been known to reduce paper by an estimated 80% since most of the documentation can be submitted electronically.
E-invoicing is also made possible, which ensures accelerated validation of invoicing, PO matching, PO flipping and immediate views to invoicing and payment status (80% of the procurement process!). Due to the traditionally complex nature of these processes, automation was not possible due to each of these steps occurring in isolation. Combining processes into an online portal can improve the velocity of information sharing, further reducing the barriers to automation.
Accurately Communicate Change in Real-Time: Since supply chains run risks of disruptions due to external forces, which may shift forecasts, portals can become essential in sharing these changes between a buyer and supplier. Therefore, the chances of miscommunication regarding pricing and changes in delivery are also minimized since buyers and suppliers can easily share these updates with each other.
The bottom line is that many businesses are finding that portals can transform the way they conduct daily operations. Putting some of the power into the supplier's hands and providing a more collaborative approach to procurement is recognized by many as a necessity coming out of the pandemic.
ConvergentIS Rapid Vendor Portal
Our aim when we developed the ConvergentIS Rapid Vendor Portal through a Work Zone for SAP via SAP Business Technology Platform, as well as a host of our own procurement apps was to address the incoming "procurement revolution.” With a central, integrated and intelligent digital experience for the buyer-supplier relationship that allows users to combine data from all systems (not just SAP) and get the system up and running quickly.
With packages for vendor management, operational procurement and services management, purchasing organizations have ample opportunity to leverage the benefits of a portal in as little as 8-12 weeks and see return on investment in 12 months or less.