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Flexibly Onboard a Vendor in SAP ERP after approvals in SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management provides digitalization of workflows, decision management, visibility on end-to-end (SAP & non-SAP) business processes. It provides the line of business users with SAP Fiori-based user interfaces, and let the line of business experts configure new process variants in an LCNC (low-code/no-code) approach.

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management now provides pre-built process content templates that include re-usable process steps/workflows, decision logic, dashboards to monitor the process, and also integration flows to connect with the backend system and SAP Fiori user interfaces. This enables customers to import the content template, configure it as per the requirement, deploy, and run the process in no time. There are quite a few content packages available for consumption like the capital expenditure approval process, vendor onboarding for SAP ERP, purchase requisition approval for SAP ERP, business partner payment data change with approval for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, etc.

In this blog, I will give an overview of the content package “Vendor Onboarding” that enables customers to be onboard (or create) a new vendor in SAP ERP from a process orchestrated in SAP Cloud Platform without any additional development in SAP ERP.

Problem Statement

Onboarding a vendor or supplier in SAP ERP is a critical enabler to run a P2P process successfully. It requires collecting & validating data that is needed to register a company as an approved vendor. If the vendor can be verified and onboarded quickly, the customers will have a large ‘planned’ supply-base to purchase goods & services and make payments on time. However, different kind of data needs to be collected for the vendor, depending on what is the vendor object going to be used for. Based on the type of data captured, different personas could be involved to validate them. For example, purchasing data of a vendor should ideally be approved by the purchasing department, and the same goes for accounting data.

On top of that, there could be other requirements to capture the data – like getting approval from the GPO or usage of the shared service center to capture the vendor data or even inviting vendors to fill in contact information. Such flexibility in configuring the vendor onboarding process is not available by default in SAP ERP, and it requires custom development to achieve the same.

Solution

To enable flexibility in configuring how a vendor is onboarded, SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management provides a process content template – Vendor Onboarding. Some salient features of this content package are:

  • Granular process steps (workflows) to capture general data, accounting data, purchasing data, and respective approvals.
  • With the pre-built process steps, create multiple variants of vendor onboarding process based on the business requirement. For example, to capture general and accounting information, the below process variant could be created. You have the flexibility to add a two-step approval from the accounting department or invite the vendor to fill in the general info or use a shared service center to fill in the same info, etc. Refer to the configuration guide on how this can be achieved.

  • Capture the vendor details with the pre-built SAPUI5 application template. The SAPUI5 application captures the information required for the specific vendor, based on the process variant. For example, the following screen is used to capture the accounting data of the vendor. Similarly, the application can capture general data as well as purchasing data.

  • Configure automatic validation on the captured data using business rules capabilities of SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management. For example, you can restrict the SAP Cloud Platform-based vendor onboarding process to a specific accounting group or make certain fields mandatory based on the provided input, etc.

  • Configure business rules to determine the approver or processor for each human activity configured in the variant. The participants will be notified by an email automatically either about the approval task and/or about the status of the process.

  • Pre-delivered approval task UI in the My Inbox application understands the persona (GPO approval or approval from purchasing/accounting departments) and renders the user interface to show only relevant information.
  • Persist in SAP ERP using the pre-built integration content in SAP Cloud Platform Integration.
  • Gain out-of-the-box visibility with a ‘live’ dashboard to monitor key process metrics. From high-level process metrics (like cycle time of the vendor onboarding process), you can navigate to a specific vendor record contributing towards the metric. If required, the dashboard can be configured (change the representation from the pie chart to a line chart, change pre-built process metrics, add additional process metrics, etc.) in a no-code manner.

How to get the Vendor Onboarding Process Content

The Vendor Onboarding process content comes as part of the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management. High-level information is available in SAP API Business Hub, where you can view process steps & templates along with the setup guide, configuration guide, and user guide. If you want to consume the process content package, then you need a subscription/CPEA license to SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management.

Once you have the access to SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management, you will be able to search and import the content package into your cloud platform tenant using the Process Flexibility Cockpit app in the Fiori Launchpad.

With the content package (with process steps, workflows, decisions, and live process dashboard) imported into your SAP Cloud Platform tenant, follow the configuration guide to set up new variants, configure decisions & policies, and configure process visibility capabilities of SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management.

Then import the SAPUI5 application template used in the process (as detailed in the content setup guide). Finally, import the integration content and set up the cloud connector and destinations to get the application running in no time.

Conclusion

The Vendor Onboarding content package from SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management provides an option to quickly set up a vendor onboarding process in SAP Cloud Platform with zero development in SAP ERP. It gives flexibility to the business users to quickly adapt to any process requirement (like inviting the vendor to fill in the contact information, add additional approvals in the purchasing or accounting department, get GPO approval, configure auto-approval, or add custom validations) with no coding involved. Additionally, you can also enhance this process with intelligent technologies like a chatbot using SAP Conversational AI or RPA bot using SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation to deliver a truly automated digital process.

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  • This is cool Sreenivas. We are currently looking for a similar solution and initially had considered Ariba but due to it’s cost Vs benefits for our requirement, it was not worth it. This can definitely work for our Vendor on boarding  process. In our process though, access will be required by the potential or already existing Vendors who are about about 2000 and we definitely do not want that to translate to a license count.  Would you know how the licenses work in this regard.

    • Hi,

      You can look at the SAP Discovery Center for the licensing cost and metrics. Vendor Onboarding and all other live process content template together with workflow capabilities, business rules capabilities & process visibility capabilities in the cloud are included in the licensing cost for the SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management. If you need further information, you can reach out to me.

      Best Regards,

      Seshadri Sreenivas