ServiceNow is using its Knowledge customer conference in Las Vegas to relaunch a feature of its latest software release that it feels did not get enough attention first time around: Procurement Service Management.\n\nThis is fresh territory for the Now Platform, which has so far been used to automate workflows in IT (such as service management or operations management), HR, or order management. With the chaos surrounding supply chains these days, though, the procurement function is ready for some love.\n\nProcurement Service Management made its debut in the San Diego release of the Now platform, which became generally available on March 23. At the time, it was overshadowed by the new release\u2019s robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities but now it is getting its turn in the spotlight.\n\nServiceNow is aiming to help enterprises automate some of their procurement busywork, and to provide more monitoring of workflow performance, freeing up procurement teams to solve more pressing issues.\n\n\u201cThe great thing for IT organizations is that, just like they\u2019ve been able to help reimagine employee experiences in areas like HR and workplace service delivery, now they\u2019re going to be able to demonstrate that value for their finance and their procurement partners as well,\u201d said Colby Blakeman, director of product management for ServiceNow\u2019s procurement business unit\n\nLeveraging existing investment\n\nThe procurement automations are built on the same underlying platform as ServiceNow\u2019s other workflow automations so, \u201cWhere CIOs have already made investments in learning the Now platform and building citizen developers, those same investments are going to benefit what they do within Procurement Service Management because we leverage that same infrastructure,\u201d Colby said ahead of the Las Vegas event.\n\nThe procurement workflows ServiceNow aims to automate are not the transactions at the heart of the procurement process, but the many tasks that surround them. \u201cOur goal is to automate 100% of the low-value tactical tasks, status inquiries, requests for updates and other information so that procurement teams can focus on participating in the workflows that add value to the organization such as negotiation with the supplier in the sourcing process or working towards completion of various ESG initiatives,\u201d he said.\n\nColby gave the example of a request to expedite payment to a supplier: \u201cWe can structure workflows that allow the intake of that request, whether it\u2019s an employee saying, \u2018Hey, my supplier just asked for this,\u2019 or a supplier saying that they need to be paid sooner because of a cash flow challenge.\u201d\n\nOnce the request has been captured, ServiceNow can verify the request\u2019s validity, analyze whether it is justified, perhaps to negotiate better payment terms, collect the necessary approvals, and finally hand it off to the ERP system for payment. \u201cThat process typically lives in email, or outside of source-to-pay or ERP technology. ServiceNow is your bread and butter to take those unstructured processes and structure them with workflow,\u201d he said.\n\nAlthough ServiceNow will provide some ready-made workflows for enterprises to adopt or adapt, workers can also use the Process Automation Designer, another part of the Now platform, to build a multi-step, guided workflow.\n\n\u201cWe\u2019ve had customers go live in a few weeks. These aren\u2019t month-long, year-long, multiyear-long implementations from an ERP perspective,\u201d Colby said.\n\nServiceNow is also hoping that, rather than running reports on the core ERP, procurement managers will turn to its software for insight into how their teams are performing.\n\n\u201cWe have a performance analytics capability in our platform, and so we\u2019ve built native spend and work analytics for procurement teams that are accessible in different formats,\u201d he said. Those analytics capabilities can help staff prioritize work queues and help managers balance workloads across teams.\n\nColby also sees a role for ServiceNow in reducing maverick procurement by employees accustomed to making one-click purchases at home. Enterprises can put a service catalog of items approved for purchase on their employee portal or app, adding a form to collect information from employees about off-catalog purchases if they can\u2019t see what they want, then build a workflow to route that request to a sourcing manager to help the employee get what they need, he said.\n\nLegacy or modernity\n\nWith both Oracle and SAP having announced that they will end support for their legacy on-premises ERP systems in 2030, many enterprises are faced with a dilemma: Should they move to the cloud now then innovate on that clean base to respond to post-pandemic changes in the business environment, or should they innovate around their legacy system now, and swap out their ERP core later?\n\nServiceNow is backing both horses, supporting connections to older on-premises ERP systems such as SAP ECC, as well as the newer generation of cloud-centric systems such as SAP S\/4HANA. It has also teamed up with Celonis to look for processes it can optimize, and acquired Gekkobrain to help it understand how customers\u2019 systems have been customized and move that customization to ServiceNow, said Kirsten Loegering, the company\u2019s vice president of product management for ERP solutions.\n\n\u201cWhatever the customer decides, whether they want to move forward with a legacy modernization and leverage Celonis and Gekkobrain to uncover the potential and then leverage ServiceNow in the context of their modernization, or whether they want to stay on their ECC system and wrap something around it for the time being to modernize the experience for the user, we can offer both,\u201d Loegering said.\n\nIt is beginning to look as though ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott, previously CEO of SAP, is on a mission to replace ERP systems from the outside in.