Enhancements to self-service procurement solution surpasses SAP® SRM functionality

SAP ® specialist Absoft has developed a bespoke Self-Service Procurement (SSP) solution which improves the buying experience, with enhanced functionality compared to SAP SRM, but at a lower total cost of ownership.

Absoft's web app uniquely leverages existing SAP landscapes to run directly on top of the SAP MM module without the need for SRM. SSP is fully integrated with SAP and utilises all the underlying data structures, user-profiles and workflows to offer a simple and intuitive user interface (UI) and enhanced user experience (UX).  Our apps are developed using the latest SAP user interface technology (SAP UI5) to offer enhanced functionality in comparison to the traditional SAP SRM module. Our SSP solution has been rolled-out across multiple sectors to customers who want to maximise their existing SAP landscape, without investing in expensive upgrades.

As Principal SAP Consultant, I’ve been involved in the development of our Self-Service Procurement solution from the outset. We initially developed the solution to streamline the procure-to-pay process and increase the visibility of budget commitments for a local authority.

At that point, there were several features:

  • Improved usability and navigation with an intuitive user-interface which allows casual users of SAP to record quality and accurate data with ease
  • Streamlined procurement processes to adhere to company policies
  • Auto Substitution – If the approver is on annual leave, the workflow is automatically routed to next approver
  • Provides transparent reporting of budget commitments and pending expenditure to enable improved decision making.
  • Rapid (fuzzy) search functionality which allows users to select from drop-downs with ease
  • Save as draft functionality allowing buyers to complete shopping carts creation at a later date

Since then, our solution has evolved in line with growing customer requirements. We found that core shoppers wanted additional functionalities, which were available in SAP SRM, such as the ability to buy for multiple companies, the ability to attach internal and external documents sent to the supplier and functionality to buy directly from supplier catalogues.

New Enhancements:

We listened to feedback from several core users (shoppers, approvers) incorporating the most important functions their organisations would benefit from. Our approach was to accommodate as much features as possible, whilst ensuring the user interface and user experience was still lean and fit for purpose. After several weeks of perfecting our design, our SSP solution now surpasses functionality offered by standard SAP SRM and provides the following benefits:

  • Ability to shop from internal and supplier hosted catalogues
  • More satisfied users and rapid adoption from occasional SAP users
  • Minimal training required
  • Enforce compliance/company policies
  • Less time to create a shopping cart
  • Ability to include multi-level approvals
  • Eliminates fraudulent activities with tighter integration with SAP roles management
  • Decrease maverick spend
  • Deployment on multiple devices (desktop, tablet or mobile)

Putting users first is the most important step in moving forward with any solution and the remainder of my blog summarises the features which have empowered our customers to optimise their procurement processes with ease of usability and navigation in mind.

Enhancement 1:             

Shoppers can now buy directly from vendor catalogues, using an Open Catalogue Interface (OCI). This involves integrating the solution with ‘punch-out’ catalogues for common vendor stock in order to purchase directly from the supplier’s website.

  • Ability to buy using external supplier catalogues
  • Ability to buy using SRM MDM Internal Catalogues

Enhancement 2:              

Buying across multi-company and multi cost objects/account assignments. Shoppers can now buy for multiple company codes during the same transaction and allocate different budget codes to different cart items.

Delivery charges entered by the user are automatically distributed as percentage (quantity or value) across multiple account assignments.
 

Enhancement 3:

  • The initial launchpad now features dynamic tiles which can display various types of status charts to enhance the user experience. For instance:
  • The shopping cart app tile now shows order status displayed as the universal traffic light system
  • The approval inbox app tile provides a numeric count – in this case, displaying the number of workflow items pending for approval or rejection
  • The goods receipt app tile displays a micro column chart –  in this case, showing completed vs overdue orders (see below)
  • These tiles are updated every 10 minutes, thereby giving the user up to date information on their launchpad 

Enhancement 4:              

Print PO functionality directly from the app using PDF Viewer:

  • Once automatically created the PO can link to a PDF version
  • Users can use the print, download and zoom features within the PDF viewer
  • The system will automatically pick-up underlying output (whether it is an SAP Script or smart form)

Enhancement 5:              

The SSP solution has the capability to attach any type of document while creating a shopping cart.

  • App uses GOS functionality to store all attachments using the shopping cart number as an object key
  • While using this feature on a mobile device, it allows users to take a picture and attach it using the device camera
  • By clicking on the document, users can download the attached files
  • Users can attach multiple files
  • Attachments can be categorised as internal or external.  External attachments are emailed to the vendor automatically when the PO is created

Enhancement 6:      

Fingerprint sign-on for iOs/Android mobile apps (which supports TouchID®). When used via mobile devices, the SSP solution can use the device fingerprint authentication to log into the app, providing an extra layer of personal security already offered by most mobile devices. 

Enhancement  7

Access to an outbox from the approval app. This functionality allows approvers to display shopping carts approved or rejected by them in the past. 

Enhancement  8

Ability to display others shopping carts. This feature is very useful when the shopper has left the organisation and a replacement takes new ownership. 

Summary

This blog outlined just some of the new features we have added to our SSP solution. These features provide SAP users with a powerful alternative to standard SAP SRM.

Our earlier blog on SRM mentioned one of the options is to migrate MM in ERP and use custom apps designed in SAP UI5. This solution addresses the issue of infrastructure costs and it ensures that the user-experience is lean and fit-for-purpose. I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you’d like to learn more, I’d be delighted to take you through an online demo or talk with you as part of our blog discussion on LinkedIn. Alternatively, for a more confidential discussion, please email: info@absoft.co.uk 

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by Vijay Rao, Principal SAP Consultant