While the COVID-19 outbreak has affected virtually every aspect of business, companies around the world have been paying close attention to their cash flows and procurement processes. In such uncertain times, it’s vital to keep a tight grip on company finances, while also looking for ways to continue effectively sourcing materials and products.

“There has been a rapid acceleration of how we streamline the end-to-end requests and ordering process,” said Chris Haydon, president of SAP procurement solutions, during a leadership panel discussion at ASUGFORWARD.

Over two days, the finance and procurement sessions at ASUGFORWARD examined how companies are using business practices and technology solutions to maintain their cash flows and procurement processes.

Protecting Your People

In the first session, Keith Combs, director of global indirect purchasing at Ford Motor Company discussed how the car manufacturer dealt with the initial complications posed by the spread of COVID-19. Unlike a lot of companies, Ford needed employees to continue reporting to work on location as it produced ventilators and cars. To ensure the safety of its workers, Ford began taking steps to monitor their health early into the outbreak.

“We’ve been putting scanning equipment in place, and certain processes and procedures,” Combs said. “We’ve also been giving employees access to PPE (personal protective equipment) so they can get back to work.”

Using Technology to Bridge Procurement Gaps

While companies have been forced to move huge portions of their workforces out of the workplace and into the safety of their homes, they have been able to keep up day-to-day operations because of the technology and software solutions at their disposal.

“Many of our clients who are running finance solutions are very happy that they have a digital platform that will allow them to make use of this technology,” said Christian Mnich, vice president and head of solution management, treasury, and working capital management at SAP. “These solutions allow people to work from home and grant them access to business materials.”

During SAPPHIRE NOW 2020, the software company highlighted how the Business Technology Platform and Intelligent Enterprise can assist customers as they navigate these uncertain times. At ASUGFORWARD, attendees saw first-hand how SAP customer companies are implementing solutions to keep their businesses moving ahead in spite of recent challenges.

In a session focused on Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s procurement IT road map, Saleem Bahezaad, Global Business IT partner at Goodyear, and Rajiv Palkhiwala, chief solution architect at SAP, walked attendees through the road map of Goodyear’s implementation of SAP S/4HANA, SAP Ariba, SAP Supplier Relationship Management, and SAP MaxAttention to upgrade its procurement process.

Enhancing Financial Forecasting and Tax Operations

Throughout the finance and procurement sessions at ASUGFORWARD, speakers shared how they updated their IT processes to gain access to better finance and procurement management solutions.

One session featured three employees of Airbus Americas explaining how the company is using real-time analytics to make financial decisions. Richard Masci, head of financial systems services and compliance at Airbus, detailed the SAP solutions the company is using including SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, SAP Business Warehouse, SAP S/4HANA, and SAP Business Intelligence. Darien Thayne, financial systems analyst at Airbus gave attendees a demo of the financial dashboards the company uses to forecast and analyze financial data.

In a later session, Mike Spivey, senior consultant at Vertex, was joined by Jaydeep Dakhawe, IT project manager at First Solar, to walk the audience through how First Solar deployed Vertex solutions alongside SAP software to upgrade its tax reporting needs. Before the project, First Solar faced several issues, including outdated systems, inflexible systems requiring a lot of maintenance, a lengthy accrual reporting process, and a lack of automation. After working together to upgrade First Solar’s IT stack with a mix of SAP and Vertex solutions, First Solar was able to decrease the time spent on tax research and on the invoice reconciliation process. The company also was able to make substantial improvements to its corporate tax operation.

Eliminating Manual Processes

One of the main themes throughout the finance and procurement sessions at ASUGFORWARD revealed how customers are working to eliminate manual processes in their systems.

Angie Halderman, the global head of SAP Partnership at DocuSign discussed the paperless signature tool and how it can help businesses be more efficient.

“Intelligent enterprises should never end business processes by printing pieces of paper to collect a signature,” she said in her session.

Many speakers highlighted how they were leveraging technology to stop transmitting financial data using Microsoft Excel.

“We want to move away from this,” said Sebastian Rogge, a financial data analyst for WR Grace, during his session about how the chemicals company implemented SAP Analytics Cloud. “We wanted users to provide users with a full scale of services and move away from manual processes.”

Similarly, Michael Hubbard, manager of finance, innovation, and transformation at The Home Depot laid out the reasons why the home improvement retailer implemented BlackLine software with SAP solutions to automate the company’s accounting process.

“When we started this journey, a lot of our processes were manually performed and maintained in Excel,” she said. “There was no real centralized place to keep the information and multiple journal entries temples were being used.”

Combining BlackLine solutions with SAP S/4HANA, Hubbard said The Home Depot was able to automate its manual processes and improve its financial workflows.

Register to watch all of the ASUGFORWARD Finance and Procurement sessions, along with the rest of the conference. ASUG members will have unlimited access to all of the week’s sessions, while nonmember registrants can view them until Sunday, June 28 at 11:59 p.m. CT/Monday, June 29 at 12:59 a.m. ET.

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