How to make smart use of cloud solutions: The story of Mahle and the SAP Ariba platform
The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the blockage of the Suez Canal have prominently demonstrated how supply chain disruptions can put constraints on business. The cloud is a tool that allows purchasing departments to play a strategically important role in their organisations and to provide resilience to shocks. When used wisely, it can save time and money in purchasing processes. This can be seen in the example of Mahle, which has implemented the SAP Ariba platform to optimise its purchasing.
According to data from McKinsey, only 17 per cent of Polish companies have a defined supplier relationship management process. In addition, most buyers are not actively seeking new suppliers. On the other hand, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation have changed the role of purchasing departments. Once primarily responsible for cutting costs, they are taking on an ever more strategic role within their organisations, tasked with providing increased resilience to shocks.
As the McKinsey data show, up to 80 per cent of companies report that they are making investments in digitising their purchasing processes, but few entities in Poland approach this transformation strategically. Instead, most focus on digitising individual processes. Furthermore, only 55 per cent of purchases in the surveyed organisations are made using the digital platforms they have implemented. This means that Polish businesses are insufficiently exploiting the potential for digitalisation in their purchasing.
In contrast, the ‘A digital journey into the clouds: managers on the cloud in Poland and the CEE region’ report indicates that only 44% of companies in Poland use cloud tools to optimise their purchasing processes. This is 2 percentage points lower than the average for the CEE countries reported in the survey commissioned by SAP.
In purchasing, Mahle bets on the cloud
Mahle is an example of a company that stands out in this area. As a leading global development partner for the automotive industry, Mahle offers unique solutions in the fields of engines, filtration, electrics, mechatronics and cooling systems. The company generates more than €12 billion in turnover annually and employs around 80,000 people worldwide. Mahle car parts are produced at 160 plants, including its facilities in Krotoszyn and Ostrów Wielkopolski. The company's research and development and shared services centres are also in Poland.
“As a result of its dynamic expansion, Mahle now has an extensive purchasing environment and a complex infrastructure of SAP systems. Continuing in this vein, the company has decided to implement the MORE project, which aims to standardise processes and migrate to the S/4HANA system and the cloud. Mahle aims to standardise and harmonise its business processes and to globalise its purchasing units”, says Dominika Bednarz, NPM IT Lead Ariba at Mahle.
As she points out, SAP Ariba and Central Procurement have enabled the company to implement a single, centralised purchasing process that meets the needs of its highly complex organisational structure and an intricate IT infrastructure. By using cloud-based tools, Mahle’s purchasing specialists can track the entire purchasing process using a single, standardised interface.
“Thanks to the ease of implementation of the SAP Ariba systems, we were able to retire our old systems very quickly and benefit from the savings generated by the reduction in licence costs for on-premise solutions. In addition, our suppliers are able to collaborate with us efficiently and effectively using the SAP Ariba Network cloud platform”, reports Dominika Bednarz.
Dozens of Mahle’s key suppliers took part in the pilot implementation of the SAP Ariba Network platform, while more than 6,000 of the company’s business partners will ultimately use the system. Mahle has as many as 20,000 active SAP Ariba users. The effective implementation of the new system in Poland and Slovakia enabled the rapid implementation of the required functionalities on a global scale.
Further expansion in the cloud
“The success of the SAP Ariba implementation at Mahle lies in its simplicity. Very quickly, we were able to get the knowledge we needed from our implementation partner, apsolut, and implement all the necessary solutions in more than 10 locations worldwide”, Bednarz points out.
Mahle has ambitious growth plans not only for the implementation of SAP Ariba solutions in more countries but also for the expansion of the range of cloud-based solutions for streamlining purchasing processes offered by SAP and apsolut. According to a company representative, Mahle intends to further optimise both its IT infrastructure and its costs by migrating legacy systems to the cloud.
“The pandemic, the problems in the Suez Canal, the war in Ukraine – the last few years have shown that with volatile supply chains, we can no longer rely on just a few proven business partners. The key to building a resilient business in challenging times is to have a community that gives us flexibility and enables us to respond quickly when an existing supplier or transport channel comes up short. This is exactly the kind of cloud business community SAP is developing – connecting suppliers, buyers and logistics providers from all areas of the economy within the SAP Business Network. By optimising purchasing processes and helping companies find new suppliers, we are working together to build value for the global economy”, says Dorota Zaremba, Vice President of SAP Poland.