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According to Ardent Partners, a research and advisory firm focused on supply management, digital transformation is no longer just an innovative trend – it’s now a core competency. However, while digital transformation may now be a “must-have” for most organizations, it is never easy as it requires good planning, the right technology, and the right people to execute it.

This is true for all segments of an organization, including procurement, supply chain, and finance, where companies want to transform source-to-settle processes, from strategic sourcing to accounts payable. The stakeholders for these processes need the leadership and advice of their CIOs, especially in regards to system selection, negotiation, deployment, and operations support, to ensure the greatest success of a digital transformation.


CIOs: The catalyst and good shepherd for digital transformation

Ardent researchers suggest that CIOs need take the lead in digital disruption and innovation and get involved early with their C-suite counterparts in procurement, supply chain, and finance operations for optimal collaboration. It’s important that CIOs take on the role of catalyst and “good shepherd” to ensure a transformation process that is soundly planned and well executed.

To help create a cohesive strategy between the stakeholders and the IT experts, Ardent researchers suggest the following five tips for the digital transformation of source-to-settle processes.

Tip #1: Deploy integrated source-to-settle solution suites. Ardent stresses the need for comprehensive end-to-end solutions that integrate with back-end systems and provide increased data visibility. These kinds of solutions offer a single source of truth, with data commonality and standardization that is critical for business continuity in sourcing, procurement, and accounts payable. They also enhance interoperability, data management, consistency, and overall user efficiency. Integrated solutions also help companies save time and costs through the deployment and management of a single suite as compared to several individual tools.

Tip #2: Migrate operations to the cloud. Cloud-based solutions offer faster time to deployment, lower initial investment and upfront costs, and less need for internal support. A migration of source-to-settle processes to the cloud provides more flexibility and lower risk while enabling an increasingly agile workforce. And cloud-based solutions give companies faster access to technology innovations and a more rapid adoption of best practices – all of which helps the people behind these solutions become more self-serving and strategic.

Tip #3: Use business networks to simplify and automate collaboration. A Web-based business network platform that connects buyers and sellers and enables trade, communication, and collaboration can facilitate the digitalization of many core source-to-settle processes. These kinds of platforms can help companies automate processes, and enable closer connections to customers, suppliers, trading partners, and distributors. And with all these entities connected to one platform, business becomes a more efficient closed-loop process, from upstream sourcing and contract activities to downstream procurement and accounts payable.

Tip #4: Explore disruptive technologies to transform the source-to-settle process. As with any enterprise application, technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and Blockchain are beginning to disrupt source-to-settle processes. These emerging technologies can help improve decision making, drive better insights, and offer alternatives to supporting, tracking, and managing transactions. It is in the best interest of IT teams to encourage the use of these innovative and disruptive technologies for the most effective digital transformation.

Tip #5: Prioritize open platforms to drive solution integration and flexibility, and user agility. Open platforms can bring innovation and modularity to source-to-settle processes. For instance, third-party applications can easily be integrated within an open platform for greater business agility. This can be critical, as many third-party applications can solve unique business needs, especially ones specific to an industry or region. In addition, applications with open-source code can be integrated with cloud-based solutions and platforms and offer companies a highly functional, customizable, and cost-effective option to in-house applications.

Ardent researchers suggest that CIOs can play a vital role in leading a digital transformation across source-to-settle processes. And when this happens, there is the added benefit of freeing up IT teams from tactical day-to-day operations so they can become strategic change agents.

To learn more, read the full Ardent report, Leading Digital Transformation across the Source-to-Settle Process: Five Tips for IT Leaders.