How medical technology helps us live the best version of ourselves


It’s almost commonplace. Get people chatting and you will find that several of them have had, or know someone that’s having, a joint replacement. It’s all about mobility. Modern medical technology is restoring agility with artificial joints and minimally invasive procedures so we can all heal faster and live our best lives.

I recently had orthoscopic surgery on my knee (no scars) and walked out the same day. In a month, I’ll be back hiking in the Cascades, and in the fall, touring Croatia. My mom, in her 80s, has had both hip joints and a knee replaced and continues to live in a tri-level home on the ocean and walk her dog on the beach.

Determined to keep moving without pain, and confident in their healthcare providers’ abilities, people are getting their mojo back and that’s a joyful thing. This blog post is about the “how.”

How an agile supply chain supports peoples’ ability to live life unlimited

Meet Smith + Nephew, a leading portfolio medical technology company focused on the repair, regeneration, and replacement of soft and hard tissue. From advanced wound management to equipment used in orthopedics and trauma treatments, as well as sports medicine, Smith + Nephew’s products help restore people’s bodies and self-belief with medical technology that takes the limits off living. 

Founded in 1856, this UK-based company designs and manufactures technology that supports healthcare professionals in returning their patients to health and mobility so they can perform at their fullest potential. 

Bringing procurement up to speed with a medical technology powerhouse

Smith + Nephew bases its success on the can-do attitude of its 18,000 employees whose spirit of collaboration was at the heart of a recent project to transform and optimize the company’s outdated and confusing procurement systems. 

Something had to be done to get a handle on spend. On the business side, fragmented procurement software obscured visibility which made it hard to control third-party spend across categories. There were too many single-sourced projects and complex, manually produced RFPs. Plus, limited use of data analytics blindsided decision makers.

On the purchasing side, employees struggled to work out which system to use resulting in purchasing workflows that were time consuming and error prone. Different approaches to supplier onboarding for each market led to delays. And, to get healthcare professionals the technology their patients’ needed in time, employees made noncompliant purchases through company and personal credit cards. The result was a high number of emergency remittance requests to meet credit card payment deadlines. 

All this fragmentation made it difficult to analyze and improve purchasing efficiency. To solve the problem, the company decided to transform procurement company-wide with a coherent and simplified purchasing solution. 

Achieving company-wide spend compliance with a 35% rise in employee satisfaction

Smith + Nephew streamlined their systems landscape by unifying global procurement processes with SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management. They use its guided buying capability with one front door to multiple channels – such as one-time emergency payments, Amazon for Business, and Candex – to help employees find a compliant path for their purchases. 

As a result, the company has seen a 35% rise in employee satisfaction with an 84% (NPS) score over the last two years. Suppliers have a smoother experience as well with simplified onboarding and timely payments. 

$400 million increase in two-year purchase order spend, up 70% over previous year

“Having SAP Ariba solutions as part of our solution set has given us insight and control across a huge amount of our indirect third-party commitments across our organization and allows us to make smarter choices about where we want to steer our employees,” said Michael Arndt, Chief Procurement Officer.

The new procurement system is enabling Smith + Nephew to do things it could not before with real-time insights into third-party spend and analytics to inform decisions on future purchasing strategy. Now, they can analyze spend proactively and identify savings opportunities which has contributed to a $400 million rise in purchase order spend across 2021 and 2022, up about 70% over 2020. 

In addition, the company is able to meet customers’ expectations for sustainability by purchasing only from companies vested in safeguarding people and the environment. The new system also supports the tracking and reporting of strict criteria to comply with healthcare regulations. And, critical for medical technology, the company gained the agility needed to collaborate with global suppliers during supply-chain disruptions. 

84% first-pass invoice matching rate, 90% right first time for requisitions

With intuitive, on-demand guidance from the new procurement system, users get things right the first time. This has resulted in an 84% first-pass invoice matching rate and a 90% right first-time rate for requisitions and automatically matched invoices. 

While the streamlined user experience delights employees, successful collaboration with suppliers is served through simplified onboarding and timely payments. There’s been a 67% drop in new supplier onboarding requests, with a 50% reduction in cycle time due to consolidating activities in the procurement solution. 

Today, Smith + Nephew’s employees are able to run agile supply chain operations with a coherent and simplified purchasing solution that furthers their purpose of supporting peoples’ ability to live life unlimited.

Smith + Nephew is a life sciences winner of SAP Innovation Awards 2023. To learn about their business network architecture and solution deployment, download the Smith + Nephew pitch deck. 


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