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Making Business Networks Work for You

I’ve recently written a couple of posts (one for procurement and one for sales/marketing) on how specific functions can drive value from business networks, to help cut through all the high level messaging out there and get a bit more practical.  To recap and broaden the scope (other functions, such as Finance, AP, Supply Chain and IT can benefit), here’s a summary of key value drivers and some specific ways you can realize them by cleverly using business networks.  An infographic produced by SAP illustrates many of these points, linking to various real-world cases.

1.  Reduce costs.

    • Leverage Supplier Discovery networks (either via walk-up or integrated into eSourcing solutions) to:
      • Find new low cost sources of supply
      • Increase the competitiveness of your existing auction with more bidders and/or
      • Crowdsource requirements for suppliers to offer lower cost solutions
    • Register on a network to receive leads from qualified buyers searching for new suppliers, thereby reducing your cost of sale.
    • Extend automated P2P to your broad supply base, reducing process costs and costly non-compliance.
    • Connect your purchasing system to a network that enables spot quotes/purchases for uncontracted items, thereby gaining control and significantly lower prices on previously unmanaged items.

2.  Manage compliance & risk.

    • Enable the full P2P process with your suppliers/customers over a global network, ensuring tax compliant invoicing and contract compliance.
    • Leverage network insights / analytics to help qualify new suppliers and predict potential supply disruptions.
    • Connect your whole supply chain over business networks, providing better visibility into product availability and potential disruptions, and reducing stock out risk.

3.  Increase revenues.

    • Register on a network to receive leads from qualified buyers for a chance to win new customers.
    • Collaborate with suppliers over networks to help drive innovations you can use to improve your own end products, or more effectively enter new markets.
    • Connect to your existing customers over a business network, enabling “Perfect POs” that eliminate order errors, helping you increase customer satisfaction.  That and improved compliance by your customer will increase your share of wallet.

4.  Improve operational efficiency.

    • Enable smart eInvoicing to the bulk of your suppliers/customers by connecting to a large, intelligent, global intelligent business network.  You’ll:
      • Stop exceptions via business rules that catch them at the source.
      • Minimize queries via self-service supplier portals, enabling 24/7 visibility into invoices/payment status.
      • Eliminate paper.
    • Enable the full P2P process with the bulk of your suppliers/customers by connecting to a large, global network, which will let you:
      • Reduce order errors, saving time and frustration.
      • Generate “Perfect POs” which suppliers can flip with one click into tax compliant invoices that are automatically approved to pay.
    • Connect to your customers over a business network that gives you a single dashboard to update common profile details rather than updating separately for each customer.
    • Leverage business networks for supplier discovery to reduce sourcing cycle times.

5.  Optimize cash flow.  Connect to your customers/suppliers over an intelligent business network, letting you:

    • Improve visibility into cash flow.
    • Enable financing/payment options for both sides based on their needs, either via dynamic discounting, supply chain financing or 3rd party financing over the network.
    • Optimize DPO based on your corporate strategy.
    • Get paid faster via accurate, automatically validated invoices.

Today’s Networked Economy is enabling smarter decision-making and entirely new processes, across functions.  What are you waiting for?

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