Spend Management Blogs by SAP
Stay current on SAP Ariba for direct and indirect spend, SAP Fieldglass for workforce management, and SAP Concur for travel and expense with blog posts by SAP.
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
MattMontgomery
Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
513
I am very hopeful and curious if this community will chime in on the steps each of you are leveraging for a supplier approval flow. Please comment with what approval flow design is working or needs to be optimized in your environment.

Factors I consider in a "perfect" approval flow:

  1. What is the true value of the approval? I have observed some customers focused on management oversight which absolutely has its place, but this question is whether that review and approval step added value to the decision.  I recommend challenging oversight with the option of a notification rather than a hard stop approval and/or reporting/dashboard visibility.

  2. Should this step have been automated? All of the technology and access to internal/external systems has gotten easier and so if there is a need to validate information instead having a human being validate the information (i.e., tax information) instead have the system check and auto-approve or auto-reject based on the same logic a human would use to make the decision.

  3. Do I have access to all of the information I need to make a decision (not too much more or less)?  Too many times if there is a "one size fits all" form to be completed that there are a lot of unnecessary questions that just take up time for everyone involved.  Or there is no context for the approval, just a standard step in the approval flow.

  4. Most importantly, has a relevant approval already been performed? Is this the right thing for me to approve?  The most obvious is when a budget to be charged isn't determined in advance and so the approving budget owner approval gets overwritten because the underlying budget is changed by a finance approver.

  5. Capacity of the approvers in that step - if the team is small, don't put them first as they will have to go through every approval even though they might not ultimately pass.


Factors I consider indicate an unnecessary approval step (and signs that they are not working):

  1. Speed of Approval:  There is not an expectation of instant approval when a supplier needs significant due diligence, but if there is a consistent lag where there really should not be one, that is cause for investigation and optimization.

  2. Bottlenecks in the process - if you see requests stacking up and the resources assign are able to simply move them ahead


Here would be my starting point, if I were to recommend a process or step back into operations myself.

  • Supplier Request:  1. Manager (Optional but approving budget for any due diligence cost) , 2. Sourcing Team

  • Supplier Registration: 1a. Automation to validate data, 1b. Accounts Payable if exceptions or no automatic validation

  • Supplier Qualification: 1. Commodity Expert Team, 2. Sourcing Team, 3. Risk Team

  • Preferred Supplier: 1. Sourcing Team


I know these are short but the challenge is to consider the value of each step and balance efficiency and risk.