How prebuilt ERP workflows tame unruly source-to-pay operations

  • Employee Experience
  • Solutions
  • 2023
  • Kirsten Loegering
March 20, 2023

ERP workflows: 2 co-workers looking at and pointing to a laptop

Legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are good at executing transactions and producing document-based outputs, such as purchase orders. But they fall short when it comes to connecting the work of users across departments and functions. Prebuilt ERP workflows can help.

Having spent more than 25 years in the ERP space, I’ve seen only a handful of customers with a single ERP instance. Most have heterogenous landscapes with many ERP instances of different release levels with point solutions bolted on top.

Faced with challenging economic conditions and system landscapes that are expensive and difficult to maintain, organizations are looking for ways to reduce costs and create efficiencies. At the same time, they’re wondering how to provide better experiences for their employees and external stakeholders, such as suppliers.

Should they innovate or reduce risk? Should they drive down costs or focus on building mutually beneficial supplier relationships? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Organizations can manage and control spend, scale business, and reach risk and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals with prebuilt ERP workflows.

Addressing ERP implementation challenges

ERP system landscapes have typically grown over decades, often through mergers and acquisitions. They tend to be burdened by customizations, add-ons, and extensions. As a result, teams work from multiple sources of truth that provide limited visibility and create silos. This inhibits integration and cross-functional collaboration.  

Lack of appropriate system support can lead to considerable “noise” in the procurement process. For example: Employees are frustrated with difficult-to-use specialist systems, so they resort to ordering online. They circumvent established purchasing processes, choosing to expense their purchases rather than using existing suppliers and contracts. This complicates spend management, resulting in fewer discount opportunities.

In turn, already-taxed procurement and finance specialists are burdened with tasks that generate zero value, such as responding to employee and supplier requests about nondelivery, incorrect delivery of an order, or nonpayment of invoices, to name a few.

According to ServiceNow customer benchmarking,1 procurement and finance teams spend more than 50% of their time managing this noise. What if there were an easier way to provide a better overall purchasing experience for employees through self-service and automated guidance?


Organizations can manage and control spend, scale business, and reach risk and ESG goals with prebuilt ERP workflows.

Enter prebuilt ERP workflows

Prebuilt ERP workflows can help organizations solve problems that elude point solutions and underlying ERP systems. They deliver out-of-the-box functionality that provides a single engagement layer for:

  • Enhanced user experience

  • Improved process orchestration

  • Automated, self-service tasks

ServiceNow prebuilt workflows don’t replace transactional systems. Rather, they help organizations connect silos between those systems to enable innovation in user experience, work orchestration, and automation. In this way, they can help organizations achieve fast and high returns on the investments they’ve already made.

How fast? Average deployment of ServiceNow Source-to-Pay workflow takes about 11 weeks.  It allows organizations to quickly run spend through the system, onboard thousands of suppliers in a matter of weeks, and use sophisticated task management to automate issue resolution.

Boosting procurement team productivity

The AI-powered Sourcing and Procurement Operations workflow boosts procurement team productivity. At the same time, it increases spend under management and employee engagement with multichannel, guided experiences.

By deploying Sourcing and Procurement Operations, a global sports apparel company estimates it will save $1 billion on procurement by fiscal year 2025. The company went from more than 24 systems and more than 12 ways to start a requisition to a single starting point for any kind of procurement.

Unifying all systems into automated workflows has helped the company increase spend under management and its ability to monitor and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion spending to reach its sustainability goals.

Onboarding, engaging, and offboarding suppliers

The Supplier Lifecycle Operations workflow onboards, engages, and offboards suppliers with integrated risk management to help organizations create a more sustainable and ethical supply base.

A leading aerospace manufacturer realized a 300% return on investment by using a global standard supplier workflow platform. The manufacturer consolidated processes that span finance, supply chain, and legal departments and business systems, from ERP and email to spreadsheets and contracts.

As a result, the company can engage with its business partners across a variety of channels, all orchestrated in a single environment that helps reduce part stock-outs and ensure compliance with export requirements.


Prebuilt ERP workflows can help organizations solve problems that elude point solutions and underlying ERP systems.

Reaping the benefits of ERP workflows

ServiceNow prebuilt workflows aren’t limited to procurement or supply chain. They extend to adjacent business areas such as finance, ESG, and risk and compliance operations. In a true better-together play, we ensure that experiences, data, and process flows are integrated across those offerings.

ERP workflows connect people, processes, and data, improving efficiency and productivity. They help provide:

  • One delightful experience for everyone: casual users, department specialists, and suppliers across devices

  • Multichannel access, meeting users where they are

  • Increased process efficiencies

  • Decreased cost and churn

  • Shortened procurement cycle times

  • Fast supplier onboarding

Prebuilt workflows can typically address 80% to 90% of an organization’s ERP requirements, helping resolve process breaks. To address the other 10% to 20%, ServiceNow App Engine provides no-code and low-code capabilities to build custom solutions and fill any remaining white spaces in a controlled and scalable manner.

Line-of-business stakeholders often have the creativity and subject matter expertise to optimize ERP systems, but not the technical knowledge. Low-code and no-code technologies put easy-to-use tools in the hands of the people who best understand these processes, while offering the necessary guidance and control by IT to monitor the development and deployment of such applications.

Saving time and money

A global agrochemical manufacturing company struggled with data consistency, accuracy, and integrity in its core business processes. Employees manually retrieved and aggregated data from their ERP environment and various point solutions, leading to delays and data inaccuracies.

The company turned to App Engine and built workflow extensions to accommodate the master data and task interactions with these transactional systems. Export and post-shipment documentation processes have dramatically accelerated—from one week to less than one day—while order fulfillment processes have shrunk from three hours to 30 minutes.

Automating and eliminating the noise of nonvalue-adding tasks translates into real savings—measured in work hours, the ability to repurpose valuable resources, cost reduction through discounts, or improved supplier relationships. That money in the bank goes a long way to help with supply assurance, brand recognition, and achievement of ESG goals.

ServiceNow ERP workflows transform what’s possible, at every point on the cost and risk curve. It’s time to say yes to both employee satisfaction and spend control.

Find out more about how ServiceNow helps organizations modernize ERP workflows.

1 Benchmarking data from current ServiceNow Source-to-Pay Operations customers

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