Improving Supplier Relationship Management Process for UK’s Second Largest International Airport


Implementing SAP product is a full-blown project lifecycle that brings together management, business owners, end-users, and the implementation team. The aim is to provide a solution that would emulate the current business processes as close as possible. The client had implemented SAP few years ago and handed over the support to us sometime later when some gaps and needs for enhancement became visible. Post go-live, the business team adapted the newly mapped business processes and ran the system. Our Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) Process Improvement Project was adopted to address issues and implement enhancements the need for which had been identified during support from the last vendor. Our team provided a comprehensive solution that resolved the long-persisting issues resulting in smoother operations, enhanced productivity, and time savings

About the Client

The client operates the busiest single runway airport in the world, the second largest airport in the UK. The scope of the airport operations is broad, covering all aspects of terminal, passenger and baggage management, as well as administering the property and retail businesses. As such, the airport works closely with a broad group of stakeholders, including but not limited to airlines, the civil aviation authority, retailers, and public transport operators to ensure a seamless experience for their customers.

Business Challenge

One of the key functions that is covered by the SAP system is related to the various suppliers or vendors that support the client's operations. Over the years, the client's team having worked with the SAP system, had overcome the teething issues of using a new system and had become familiar with the functionality of the system. They could now understand and appreciate the benefits of the highly integrated SAP system and could now see issues and identify areas to enhance the productivity of their team. The key problems that the team was facing were:

  • Leaving of employee resulted in issues in handling open Shopping Carts, Purchase Orders
  • The colleagues did not have access to one another’s purchase orders, resulting in delays in closing the purchase cycles
  • The Shopping Cart Approval Process for capital expenditure (CAPEX) items was manual, tedious, spread across different systems, and was facing questions by the audit committee
  • The existing process of creation of Purchase Order from a shopping cart was a manual and required more time and resources


The issues faced by the client's team in the AS-IS system during the shopping cart processing and design the solution needed to be addressed. Technical resource on the ABAP side worked on providing customized development where standard SAP had to be enhanced, SAP Portal consultant added the required interfaces, and a testing team ensured a bug-free solution.

The key features of the solution were:

Team Shopping Cart: The issues caused by the departure of staff with open shopping carts and purchase orders coupled with employees having no access to receipt purchase order or to edit shopping carts of their colleagues were resolved by the implementation of Team Purchasing functionality in SAP SRM. This solution allowed SRM requesters to have greater access and control by enabling team members to take over shopping carts of others and process them. The users were given the ability to define substitutes for themselves who were able to take over their Shopping Carts. The substitution authority could also be inherited.

Team Shopping was configured in the SAP system and once this was enabled, ‘Team shopping cart’ check box became visible in the shopping cart header and the users could select this check box to substitute their shopping carts. Custom development was done to make each Shopping Cart a “Team shopping cart” by default. The SRM users were provided with the function under the tab ‘SRM user settings’ on the portal to maintain procurement substitutes.

Test Data Insights

Team Carts’ were made available to all users to access team carts in the personal User Work List.

Test Data Insights

A button to take over the team shopping carts for further actions or whenever a user leaves the organization was provided.

Test Data Insights

“Team Shopping Cart” simplified the Shopping Cart Processing and a training document shared with business team was sufficient to train them on the changed process.

Automate Conversion of SRM approved Shopping Cart into a Purchase Order: AS-IS Process - ‘Requisition to PO process’ involved a manual step of converting an approved Shopping Cart into a Purchase Order through the Buyer’s Worklist functionality of SAP SRM suite. This activity was performed by Procurement resource who actioned it 3 times a day and was spending around 45 minutes on this. All shopping carts created used to lie in ‘Buyer’s work list’ as they did not have specific source of supply assigned to them. Hence someone had to manually select those shopping carts and convert into purchase order.

Custom Development was done to copy the preferred supplier into supplier field as default when shopping cart was saved. As source of supply got assigned to shopping carts, automatic creation of purchase orders was triggered once they were fully approved

Delegated Financial Authority (DFA) Approval Process: AS-IS Process - The current process adopted by the business used various vehicles to capture the required DFA approvals. This could be via paper, wet signatures, or share point. The approach led to issues in tracking and auditing the approval process. The solution was provided by implementing a 3-stage approval process within SAP SRM system. Once the shopping cart got created, Finance Business Partner approval was added at Stage 1, Purchasing Group/ Project approval at Stage 2, and a DFA Approval at Stage 3 based on the cart value. Only on completion of this 3-stage cycle, the purchase order was created.

Delivering More Value

More Simplicity: The purchasing teams process became smoother with shopping cart team processing. The carts moved onto identified substitutes without any manual intervention when the primary owner was not available. The DFA approval process was simplified and integrated into one SRM system.

More Time Savings: The auto purchase order creation functionality reduced the team’s effort and saved up to 1 to 2 hours per week.

More Efficiency: The number of requests received for substitution of shopping carts from old user to new and for manually converting shopping cart to purchase order was reduced from 4 to 5 incidents per week to zero.

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