SAPinsider publishes regular Benchmark Reports for organizations that use SAP. For its “Automation in Finance” report, which was published at the end of 2020, SAPinsider conducted a survey. As one of this survey’s sponsors, we are pleased to share the results with you here. If you use SAP, the report will give you a good insight into how you compare to other organizations when it comes to digitizing and automating your purchasing and accounting departments. It will also help you identify scope for optimization within your company.
Drivers, actions, requirements, technologies
The SAPinsider report examines the survey results in context in order to interpret them better. More specifically, it examines the interplay between drivers, actions, requirements, and technologies, otherwise known as the “DART model”.
The survey found that the main driver of automation projects in purchasing and accounting departments was the need for staff to focus on high-value, strategic tasks, with 44% of respondents identifying this as a top driver. To achieve this goal, organizations must relieve staff of time-consuming, manual routine tasks. It is evident that priorities have shifted, with only 33% of respondents identifying cost reduction as a driver.
The main requirement for companies that use SAP has not changed, however, with 72% of respondents saying that deep SAP integration is a top priority. Accurate and detailed documentation was in second place, with 70% identifying this as an important requirement.
Of the companies that participated in the survey, 46% said that incoming invoice processing had made the most progress in terms of automation. Respondents also said that purchase order management is in most need of optimization, with 91% planning to automate tasks in this area.
Cash discounts are becoming increasingly important
A good third (34%) of companies stated that they receive cash discounts for early payment of invoices. Annual savings deriving from cash discounts range between a few thousand to several million US dollars. SAPinsider therefore devoted special attention to companies that receive cash discounts and found that, in comparison to the average, these companies place more importance on process automation. Rule-based workflows for invoice verification and release play a critical role here, as they speed up processes considerably, thereby allowing companies to benefit from cash discounts.
About the report
For this Benchmark Report, SAPinsider surveyed 205 members of the SAP community. The survey was conducted in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Participants came from a range of countries, with 50% based in North America and 26% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Most of the respondents worked in IT (54%) and finance (45%) divisions, but their companies were from a range of sectors. The 29-page report was published in December 2020. You can download the full report here.