SAP Ariba and American Express launch new solution for corporate customers' procure-to-pay process
Global financial services company American Express announced today that it has entered into a new partnership with software and IT giant SAP Ariba. The partnership will see the two firms collaborate on new offerings aimed at American Express’ corporate customers, which will reportedly facilitate seamless commerce, secure payments, and easy reconciliation between businesses on a single platform.
Businesses will be able to use their existing American Express Corporate Cards to make virtual card payments through the platform. User will reportedly benefit from improved operational efficiencies created by elimination of the need to handle payments as a separate standalone process; increased control by having the ability to set a payment amount and timing of each payment, as a result of token-based virtual access and usage controls; improved working capital to manage cash conversion cycles; and improved reconciliation by providing greater payment status visibility and data enhancements.
“We are continuously looking for ways for our customers to conduct more business in a simple, intuitive and integrated manner. With over half of American Express’ largest global customers already using SAP Ariba to manage their expenses, this partnership has the opportunity to provide significant value for our joint customers,” said E-Bai Koo, executive vice president, Global Commercial Services at American Express. “We couldn’t be more excited about building a long-term partnership with SAP Ariba.”
Suppliers to companies using the new platform are expected to receive payments faster and benefit from the added security of token-based accounts.
“American Express’ unique integrated business model provides deep relationships with both buyers and suppliers. As a global leader in the payments space, they deeply understand the needs and pain points that businesses face throughout the supply chain cycle,” said Sean Thompson, senior vice president, SAP Ariba Business Network & Ecosystem. “Partnering with American Express as a new network extension partner – integrating virtual payment capabilities within Ariba Network – we’re able to deliver a true end-to-end procure-to-pay process to customers that changes the game in the corporate payments space.”
After the launch of the new services, SAP and American Express have expressed the desire to continue their collaborative relationship. Full details of the service will be shared at SAP Ariba Live, an event being held at the Austin Convention Center, April 1-3.
Will Public Procurement Budgets Increase in 2021?
Procurement is more than just a private enterprise. COVID-19 reminded us that sourcing materials is an essential part of the government’s role. Throughout 2022, tiny departments sourced massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and emergency vaccines and testing kits. Even non-procurement professionals were pulled into the fray, as frantic timelines demanded nothing less.
According to Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, the crisis brought procurement to the attention of skilled employees who had never considered it. As non-procurement personnel stepped up to help their coworkers, many found that they’d stumbled upon a critical and rewarding job. “Existing public employees have seen the essential nature of the work”, Frye said. “[They’ve] gained some critical skills and possibly [grown] interested in pursuing procurement as a longer-term career”.
Small, Local Suppliers Take Charge
Frye, whose firm helps organisations engage stakeholders and develop long-term procurement strategies, thinks it well worth the effort to open one’s mind to new opportunities. Cooperative contracts, for instance, can help public departments and municipalities save money, time, and effort. By joining together with other towns or cities in the region, public procurement teams aggregate their purchasing power and can drive better deals.
These cooperative contracts have the added benefit of advancing equity. Smaller suppliers that struggle to compete with established firms for government contracts can act as subcontractors, helping big suppliers fulfil bits of the project. Once they get their foot in the door, small, local, and disadvantaged suppliers can then leverage that government relationship to take on additional projects.
Especially as governments start to pay attention to procurement resilience, public procurement departments must expand their requests for proposals (RFPs) to take into account innovative solutions and diverse suppliers. According to Frye, Public Works Partners—a certified female-owned firm—has benefitted from local and state requirements that specify diversity.
Post-Pandemic Funding Swells Procurement Budgets
And the pandemic won’t be the end of it. City governments need to build sustainable energy infrastructure such as solar panels, charging stations, and recycling plants, ensure that masks and medicines are never in short supply, and source new technologies to keep up with cloud and cybersecurity concerns.
Public procurement budgets will likely increase to match demand. As Peter Ware, Partner and Head of Government at Browne Jacobson, explained, “in a non-pandemic world, the [U.K.] government spends on average around £290 billion on outsourced services, goods, and works...anywhere between 10% and 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Post-pandemic, city procurement will only increase as national governments provide local divisions with emergency funding.
And in truth, government employees might jump at the opportunity. Frye noted that public procurement could give immediate feedback on new programmes: “[Procurement] is where new laws and policies ‘hit the road’ and are implemented”, she said. “Professionals in these fields get the satisfaction of creating real change and seeing quantifiable outcomes of their work”.