Yesterday we indicated that while 2023 was the year for intake, 2024 may be the year of orchestration. The reason? Including the buyer in the process and making it simple for them to get information on policies, do their own tactical purchasing, and engage with Sourcing and Procurement is only the first step to successful Source-to-Pay+ in your organization. The next step is simplifying the life of a Sourcing and Procurement professional whose job has become considerably more difficult with all the regulations they need to adhere to, the risks they have to identify and manage, the sanctions they have to comply with, the (knee-)jerk policies the organization has in place, the supply risks they have to consider, the supply assurance that has become as important as cost, and the collaborations across half a dozen departments or more just to get the job done.
ORO was built to be that next step. More specifically, ORO was built to be the orchestration platform for procurement workflows, enabling an organization to build as many Procurement workflows as needed, involving as many stakeholders as needed, while integrating as many systems as needed, to support the organization in acquiring whatever products and services it needs to do business. There are two key words here:
- as it was designed to ensure that all parties who needed to collaborate could collaborate and get the job done quickly and efficiently; and
- there is no ONE procurement workflow; there is one workflow per product or service the organization needs, which varies based upon the value of the purchase, the supplier, the location (of the supplier), how the product or service is to be used, and so on; e.g. there might be a typical workflow for 10,000 t-shirts for re-sale, a quick-purchase workflow for 100 t-shirts for an event, and a lengthened workflow for onboarding a new supplier to produce the next 100,000 t-shirts you plan to purchase
In the example above, a typical workflow might be sending an RFQ out to your already on-boarded and approved suppliers and asking them for a cost and delivery date. In the second example, it might be allowing your marketer to just get 3 quotes from local print shops, verifying the quotes are valid, allowing the marketer to buy from the lowest quote on the P-Card, and that’s that. In the third example, it might be subjecting the supplier to an extensive compliance and risk analysis to ensure there is no slave labour in the supply chain, unsafe working conditions at the factory, counterfeit materials, denied party associations, and so on … and only then onboarding the supplier of interest for a full sourcing event.
ORO can do this because they have built a no-code platform with fully customizable workflows that can be built from scratch using any capability of, or data in, the product and connect with, pulling data in and pushing data out, any integrated solution through the APIs. This can be used to orchestrate intake requests (because intake is just another Source-to-Pay+ module, which they provide as part of their orchestration, configured to your liking), processes, forms, and organizational master data (which can be grouped into projects).
When an end user logs in, they see their home screen where they can start a new process (be it a purchase request, supplier onboarding, evaluation form, and so on), see all their current tasks (as well as the estimated duration and status), and an easy smart NLP-based AI-enabled search capability that can take questions and guide the user to appropriate processes.
For example, all they need to do is enter their business request in plain English, and then the platform will ask them clarifying questions to guide them to the right process. For example, if they say they want a 3D printer for pharmaceutical research, it will know that the buyer is looking for laboratory equipment and not a mass-market resin 3D printer for 3D part models for manufacturing and then ask the user if it’s small laboratory equipment (as they are doing preliminary research) or large laboratory equipment (as they are testing suitability for mass production). (If the details are sufficient, they can go down to level 4 in a category tree.) They can then identify the most likely suppliers, including those the company has done business with in the past, and if the approximate spend is known, bubble up the best fit to the top (and allow the user to click into recent transactions). If the right supplier (and product) is identified, the user can then kick off a procurement request, and based on the value, the system will either guide them through the process of purchasing it themselves or kicking it off to Procurement (because the amount is over their spending limit). It will also tell them how long the process typically takes and the steps they, or the buyer, will need to go through.
When the request gets to the buyer, they can review all of the information entered by the requester and stored by the system, see the process they need to go through, send the required RFPs and forms to the supplier, get alerted when the response comes back, if the response and price is right, kick off the order, and it’s done. Moreover, they can jump into their sourcing system if they choose to edit the default RFP or go through its built-in processes, or just wait for everything to come back through the API integration and never leave ORO for a predefined process. (This also means that the ORO platform can use the APIs to fully create the necessary event/process in the integrated tool and, if SSO is enabled, ORO can jump you right into the third party application, and if the third-party application has a fine-grained API, into the screen that is appropriate for the current process step.)
Processes are very powerful and can contain as many tasks (which can be built in-system, third party, or data collection tasks), approvals, (stakeholder) reviews, forms, documents, notifications, requests, and sub-processes as necessary, in any order. This means that as soon as an event is kicked off for a software product that may need a security review and privacy review, IT and the Data Protection Officer can be notified, they can let the buyer know if they have any particular concerns not covered in the standard onboarding processes that they want to address and data they want collected, reviews can be staggered or split so as to prevent a process from getting too far when non-compliance or unacceptable risk can be decided early, or to prevent risk and compliance analysis from slowing a process down when the perceived risk is low or a supplier can always be subbed out last minute. Processes that can be done in parallel, including approvals, can be kicked off in parallel to minimize time. And allowances for send-backs can be made to collect more information or correct situations without cancelling and restarting the entire process and losing the history. And an impacted party cannot only see their current task in each process but see the entire process at a glance and the progress to date. They can also access any associated forms, documents, and see the milestones that have been completed at various steps (which could be for future steps if they are stuck in an approval or something was sent back to them for further review).
ORO is highly configurable and in addition to typical settings you’d find in any old SaaS app, you can also configure the assets available to be used in the application by the users who have access to workflow / process construction, modification, and utilization. This means you can select the apps they have access to, the data in those apps they have access to, and so on. And it’s very easy to use with an extremely intuitive user interface.
When it comes to process creation, the conditions that can be used to drive the logic can be defined on any data element in the system, or any system ORO connects to, as well as any derived data or measure on that data element in the system, or any system ORO connects to. ORO makes it possible for you to find those data elements and statuses by grouping them into categories (custom fields, department, ERP, invoice amount, suppliers, users, working capital, assessment risks, etc.) and making selection easy. For example, if in the ERP Supplier Status Info, you might have “new supplier”, “activation required”, “currency enabled”, “new country”, etc. Furthermore, the processes can be configured to monitor the status (and data) at all times and automatically jump back to a specific step if any conditions change that would require reviews to be conducted again or new approvals. For example, if during an assessment, IT decided that additional security is required, and kicks it back to the vendor who indicates they will add it for an additional fee, and that causes the overall sourcing event to cross a certain threshold, approvals can be revoked and a new approval chain executed (if approval from the CIO in addition to the buyer’s manager is now required).
In other words, ORO is the orchestration platform you didn’t know you needed when you are stuck trying to manage disparate processes across different systems, track when things change, and ensure things get done.