iApprove simplifies and streamlines SAP purchase orders for Compass

Keytree builds a user-friendly, web-based front end for SAP ECC and SAP SRM reducing costs and managing risks.

Compass Group is the world’s largest food service company. The FTSE 100 company has revenues of £14 billion, profits of £1 billion. The business is increasingly becoming a multiple-service provider, offering facilities management and other services.

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Business needs

Compass Group, the world’s largest food service company, also provides a range of facilities management services to its clients. For example, at a large London Hospital, Compass provides many of the non-medical services – such as cleaning, laundry, security, office services and portering.

Whilst the food services business has always had a very strong culture of cost and quality purchasing management based on sound procurement processes, the rapidly-growing facilities management business needed to implement stronger cost and quality controls. “Significant non-food items for facilities management, like equipment and services, were being purchased within operational units without appropriate pre-authorisation” says Steve Leader, Head of IT Development at Compass Group.

This created several potential problems. Firstly, the business was missing opportunities to consolidate purchasing and get better prices with approved vendors. Secondly, they were not getting the kind of reporting and visibility on spending needed to run the business effectively. Lastly, the business ran risks around health and safety and other vendor compliance issues.

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Finding the right solution

To meet these challenges, Compass Group decided to implement an SAP-based workflow and procurement solution. However, the default user interface was ‘clunky and highly specialised’, according to Steve Leader. “We wanted an easier user interface that was also suitable for people working outside the firewall – an interface that was available through the web”

Compass Group partnered with Keytree to create a web-based front end, called iApprove, for people to log in securely, create, review and approve purchase requests for approved suppliers and for the finance department to match purchase orders with invoices and deliveries. Keytree used prototyping and visualisation to design a system that worked well for end users. Keytree installed and configured the SAP Supplier Relationship Management functionality,

configured SAP ECC 6.0 for purchase orders, goods receipting and invoice entry and built an approval workflow in SRM 7.0. The web interface used Adobe Flex technology to create a user-friendly front end for the whole system. “Keytree delivered the project on budget, on schedule and on spec and I know that they burned the midnight oil to make sure this happened”, says Steve Leader. Today over 300 Compass staff use the system and there are plans to deploy it more widely.


“The system has proved itself. It has run smoothly for a couple of years and we’re putting around 1,000 transactions a month through it. It has met all the project goals and has helped Compass cut costs and reduce risk. We’re very pleased with the results”

Steve Leader – Head of IT Development, Compass Group

Results and benefits

  • Improved profitability. Consolidating purchasing and better reporting means that Compass Group can direct spending to the most cost-effective suppliers, reducing overall costs.
  • Lower support and training costs. The system is user-friendly and intuitive, which means fewer mistakes, lower training costs and fewer tech support calls, especially compared to the out-of-the-box SAP interface.
  • Fully integrated into SAP. The finance department continues to do their work using familiar tools and processes. Once a purchase has been approved, it can be checked against invoices and reconciled in the normal way.
  • Support for mobile working. ‘Mobile access and web access are very important for us’, says Steve Leader, especially when staff spend a lot of time on client sites and away from the office.
  • Visibility and transparency. The system only allows orders from authorised suppliers and each request goes through an approval process. This reduces the risk of abuse.
  • Reduced compliance risk. It’s not possible to raise POs for suppliers who have not been vetted for health and safety, environmental and other concerns.

“Keytree delivered the project on budget, on schedule and on spec and I know that they burned the midnight oil to make sure this happened”

Steve Leader – Head of IT Development, Compass Group

Compass Group is already looking at using iApprove in other areas of their business. For example, they’re implementing the system to control purchasing of equipment and services within the IT department. There is also a project to roll-out iApprove to Keith Prowse, Compass’s hospitality business, where it will control the purchasing of hospitality equipment and even the buying of event tickets for inclusion in their hospitality packages.

“The system has proved itself. It has run smoothly for a couple of years and we’re putting around 1,000 transactions a month through it”, says Steve Leader. “It has met all the project goals and helped Compass cut costs and reduce risk. We’re very pleased with the results – Keytree are a strategic partner for Compass Group”.

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