IBM Services with a Global pharmaceutical company

Commercial Excellence

Client Situation

The client’s new CPO initiated the Buying Goods & Services (BG&S) programme to make buying and selling easier for end users, procurement professionals, budget approvals and suppliers with a focus on navigation, integration and compliance. The programme targeted 200+ indirect categories and 40 markets globally.


Together, the client and IBM focussed on human-centric design based on user personas and their experiences instead of just technology. We co-created four personas, fleshed out their issues, then mapped all 71-pain points to the end-to-end value chain. This approach was revolutionary for the client, who had previously always taken a technology-centric approach to system implementation.

At the heart of the pain points was the inability to connect procurement’s commercial deals to real-life purchasing. The client had been leaking value because of this content connectivity gap.

We enabled a digital platform (SAP Ariba Guided Buying) with connected content allowing end-users to access deals negotiated by procurement at a click of the mouse.


We introduced a new buying channel strategy, based on optimising user experiences, and built a customised analytics engine to define a roadmap for content which yielded the most benefits. We then designed and deployed the digital platform globally, with the new buying channels and content underpinning the new technology.

As the programme progressed, the scope kept expanding due to its own success. At the same time, Covid-19 forced many team members to leave the programme or change working availability. Whenever the client asked IBM to step-in to address gaps, we did so with flexibility, keeping the programme on track.


We jointly exceeded all expectations and delivered:

  • Savings: The client targeted savings of £billions and reduction of 100,000s accounts payable queries – both were achieved within timeline and budget.
  • Adoption by category leads: £5.4bn-worth of sourcing events (42% of total spend) were launched in 800 events in the 8-months, including 200 eAuctions worth £3.4bn.
  • Adoption by the business:3% of global spend had been enabled with content used by 90% of shoppers.

We jointly transformed the brand of procurement. Both IBM and the client learnt from the programme:

  • Importance of content: Client’s category teams understood the value of connecting contracts to purchasing through content.
  • Human-centric approach: This approach has since grown into a new offering for IBM, helping other clients with similar needs.
  • Positive team culture: There were many challenges, but we left our badges at the door and worked successfully together to build long-lasting friendships.

The deployment was completed within 18 months across 66 countries – far more than originally planned – yet still delivered on-time and on-budget. As a result, BG&S is now a benchmark for technology implementations for the client. This highly successful approach has now entered into the DNA and is being replicated across other parts of the organisation. Best of all, the client’s colleagues now act themselves as the agents of change!

View the IBM Services profile in the MCA Members Directory.