Driving RFx Process using Microsoft Excel in SAP Sourcing
Over the years, Microsoft Excel has proven its existence in the business world & no question it is one of the most widely adopted tool within the business community and of course it’s not going anywhere :-). To let business users continue to work in their known environments, SAP Sourcing product blends very well with Excel and gives its users the best of both the worlds. In release 7.0 of SAP Sourcing, business users can drive complete RFx process i.e. from creating & publishing an RFx to getting responses and analyzing it, all can be done using Excel.
Prior to 7.0 release SAP Sourcing has been supporting comma separated value (csv) files to import/export RFx data. Due to much more powerful aspects of Excel such as better formatting and strong data visualization & validations capabilities; RFx tool has been enhanced to sopport business users to drive their processes using Excel. Having said that, if you still want to use files in csv format, you will continue to get support of it. Our recommendation to users is definitely to switch to Excel (.xls) format from .csv format. To make users life easier, switching is as simple as changing a configuration setting in the document type of the document.
As we just leant that RFx tool provides much closer integration with Excel and why it has been enhanced from csv format, let’s quickly go through how different stakeholders of RFx process can use it:-
How Buyers or collaborators can use Excel :-
- Buyers can prepare or update a complete RFx including line items, questions, formulas, supplier entered attributes, line item specifications, price conditions or even add suppliers using Microsoft Excel.
- Master Data such as Currency, Unit of Measures, Product Categories etc. is available in to Rfx excel template or at the time of RFx export; this helps Buyers to work on RFx’s offline which means they do not have to be connected to SAP Sourcing Portal to do things like creation of RFx.
- RFx Excel is nicely formatted and easy to use .Customers can change the format based on their needs such as they can add their own logos, headers, footers or even change colors.
- If user makes any mistake while preparing the RFx in Excel, at the time of import, system would validate and also provide resolutions. This helps Buyers to easily locate & resolve the issues faster.
How Suppliers can use Excel:-
- Suppliers can prepare a bid/response of the RFx’s from Excel itself. They do not have to necessarily use the SAP Sourcing Supplier Portal to build the response
- Suppliers can work on building the response offline, which makes them share the Excel to their co-suppliers or their team members which doesn’t have access to the SAP Sourcing Supplier Portal to collaborate on the response.
High Level Steps to Create & Update RFx using Excel:-
- Users can create RFx using Excel in 2 ways. Either They can download the RFx Excel Template and create the RFx from scratch or They can start creating RFx on SAP Sourcing and Export the RFx to continue building it in Excel
- On Export, SAP Sourcing downloads the Master Data as well such as Currency, Inco Terms, Types of Question, Product Categories etc. In other words almost anything which can be picked instead of expecting users to manually write it.
- Once the RFx creation is complete, users can upload Excel in to SAP Sourcing through easy to use importer.
- On Import, SAP Sourcing validates excel for any errors and provides resolution to resolve those errors. After fixing the errors, users can re-import on SAP Sourcing.
- To update RFx, users can download the RFx from SAP Sourcing, make changes and import it back to SAP Sourcing.
Whenever RFx is exported into Excel, it contains multiple work sheets as shown below:-
- Overview – This sheet provides a complete overview on how to use every single RFx field using an Excel for e.g. How to setup options for multiple choice questions. It is highly recommended that users first read through this sheet to learn how to use RFx Excel.
- RFx – This sheet is used to enter the header level information of RFx such as Response Due Date, Inco Terms etc.
- Line Items – This sheet is used to create or update line items including Supplier Entered Attributes, Formula and Line item specifications.
- Questions – This sheet is used to create or update Questions of all the types, users can do things like setting up the scores & weights on questions.
- Suppliers – This sheet is used to add the suppliers which would be participating in the RFx. Only catch here is that the Users have to know the Supplier ID to refer to the Supplier. SAP Sourcing doesn’t download the Suppliers as they could be in thousands which can degrade the performance the download.
Note that there are other possibilities to export just the line item or just the questions. Export action is available on relevent tabs of RFx. for e.g. If user just want to download the Line Items, they can do so from Line Items tab of the document, exported excel would include just the line item work sheet.
Any column which is non editable in excel is grayed out, those columns either exist for informational purposes or the functionality is not supported yet for e.g. in case of Questions, question type “Attachment” or “Table-Based” is not supported in excel therefore the question itself would be exported but response by suppliers cannot be made for these questions through excel. Suppliers can choose their responses if pre-defined by the buyers intead of manually writing them for e.g. Yes or No questions, suppliers can just choose an option.
Key benefits of driving RFx process using Microsoft Excel:-
- Buyers can drive complete RFx process using Excel thus accelerate their time-to-value.
- Suppliers doesn’t have to get trained on SAP Sourcing product to respond to RFx, this saves buying organizations time and efforts on training their suppliers on the system.
- Enables Offline mode of working, this allow users to work on RFx’s even whene they are not connected to the system. All data which needed to prepare the RFx is download in to Excel at the time of Export.
- Collaboration with suppliers who are not connected to SAP Sourcing Supplier Portal is possible.
- RFx excel can easily be shared with tools like emails as attachments.
At last, I would like to encourage existing or new customers to try out their RFx processes using this new & enhanced Excel integration for their upcoming RFx events to realize all the benefits it offers. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog.