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2019 Manufacturing & industry winner: Sasol

Luca Mattia Gelsomino

date: November 28, 2019

Entry of Sasol, the Winner of the 2019 SCF Awards Manufacturing & Industry category.

Category: Manufacturing & industry

Winner: SASOL

Partner: Taulia

Summing up: An automated dynamic discounting programme that allowed Sasol to deploy its surplus cash while more effectively meeting its suppliers’ needs.

What the judges say: Has unlocked substantial value for the company.” “Rapid scaling and decent earnings early into the programme, interesting innovative features.”

Key Facts:

  • Programme enables Sasol to deploy surplus cash more effectively
  • Automated processes reduce need for large teams to conducting manual-intensive tasks
  • Positive reaction from suppliers with 93.9 percent enrolled onto the programme.

The entry:

Sasol – South Africa’s largest listed integrated chemicals and energy company – decided to overhaul its existing early payment programme and introduce an automated dynamic discounting solution to allow the company to more effectively deploy its surplus cash.

The previous system had lacked scalability and required too many time-consuming processes. Sasol wanted an automated solution that would take less time and fewer employees to run, while efficiently freeing up working capital the company could use for its own projects.

At the same time, Sasol wanted to ensure it could extend accessible and affordable funding to its suppliers – particularly those that needed it most.

Partnering with technology provider Taulia and local implementation partner Intellection, Sasol went live with the new platform in November 2018.

The solution enabled Sasol to select which suppliers or invoices to pay early, enabling it to capture significant discounts from suppliers. In turn, its suppliers benefited from early payment of invoices, which for many is a better option than seeking more expensive financing from other sources.

The fully automated nature of the new platform ensured Sasol was able to extend the solution to almost 3,500 suppliers.

Suppliers reacted well to the new programme, with 93.9 percent of them now enrolled onto the new system. Once on-board, suppliers benefit from visibility into their invoice status and can access funding early that bolsters their working capital position.

The platform has also cut down on the time-consuming admin within Sasol. Previously staff spent a lot of time fielding hundreds of calls from suppliers each month. Now just one person – rather than a team of 12 – manages this task, with the other employees redeployed elsewhere in the company.

During the implementation phase, Sasol’s project team ran workshops bringing together teams from finance, treasury, supply chain, accounts payable and executive team, to ensure everyone was on-board with the project and working towards the same goals.

The on-boarding process is efficient, with each supplier on-boarded within 60 to 90 seconds. Suppliers received an activation email from Sasol, and once completed they were ready to accept early payment.

The programme also makes use of Taulia’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities which taps into real-time data to predict the rate at which suppliers will accept early payments. This facility gives Sasol even greater insight and visibility about its working capital position.

Sasol is now looking to scale the programme and expand it across its global operations and introduce third-party funding.

Luca Mattia Gelsomino

Assistant Professor at University of Groningen.

Luca Gelsomino is an Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen and the Academic Director of the SCF Community. In this role, he oversees the Community’s research projects, international network and publication strategy. His teaching interests include supply chain management, financial analysis and Supply Chain Finance. He holds a Ph.D. with merit from the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano (Italy), on the topic of measuring the financial performance of supply chains. While working for the School of Management, he directed the School’s permanent research program on Supply Chain Finance. His research focuses on the relationship between physical and financial supply chains.