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BAT’S top GBS focuses for 2024

Feb 2024

4 min read

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GBS mastermind, Rob Bullen, joins Paul Roiter, Co-founder of Xelix, down The AP Arms to discuss recent developments in BAT’s Procure-to-Pay function and the role technology will play in the years to come. 

After 18 years working across Supply Chain and Shared Services, including gigs at Mondelez, Bayer and more recently BAT, Rob’s experience spans several major sectors, making him the perfect person to ‘grab a pint’ with down the pub. 


Watch the episode ▶️



A GBS milestone for BAT 

“This April, we are going to be celebrating 25 years for our first (GBS) centre in Malaysia, so 2023 was really a reflection point for us to think about what the next 25 years might look like.”  Rob explained. 

“We have grown to nearly 3,000 people and have become very multi-functional across different departments which has left us with a complex service catalogue. We've got Finance, HR, Supply Chain, some legal elements and Marketing is one of the new services we expanded last year.” 

For Rob, the priority for 2024 is to level up.  

“Let's do the same things that we know work well across all of the markets and then focus on the scale that we that we want to see.” 


Goal 1: Synchronising BAT's P2P processes 

Rob sees a huge opportunity to harmonise BAT’s Procure-to-Pay function. 

“We have been quite functionally siloed.... It's worked well for 100 years but when you start to scale up GBS and you start to co-locate Supply Chain and Finance, you get the opportunity to look more end-to-end at processes and that's exactly what we're going to do with Procure-to-Pay. 

We have a Chief Procurement Officer who’s responsible for sourcing. And then we have the Finance team responsible for payables because it's a financial transaction and it influences cash flow. But what most companies have done - and I think rightly so - is joined the dots without necessarily changing the functional responsibility. 

I believe GBS becomes the enabler to connect those dots, because the Sourcing team are right next to the Supply Chain Managing Director, who’s next to the Payables team, so you get a much more synchronised end-to-end journey.” 


Goal 2: Customer-centric operations 

“Our business is changing… the speed of change, the speed of products, the number of SKUs, all of that is dramatically driving our business to reinvent itself and forces you to challenge some of the long-held assumptions.

When you start to put the consumer at the heart of your process or the customer or the supplier, you suddenly think a little bit differently.” 

New products in the market and a shift in consumer demand has meant that 15% of BAT’s revenue now comes from brand new categories. 

Rob provided some insight into how BAT will continue to evolve in a changing market with new demands. He believes firmly in the importance of maximising GBS efficiency across departments and the possibility of adopting new tech to improve processes. 


Goal 3: Reducing touch points on invoices  

One process Rob is keen to investigate is invoice processing and how BAT can make it more touchless. A goal many large organisations are working towards in 2024.

Rob explains that there’s a clear opportunity for BAT to reduce the number of touches per invoice. And his first suspicions are either that their “controls are too high” or their processes are potentially a little too fragmented or perhaps broken.   

And he's confident that with the right technology in place, process improvements can be made. 

“We have some Proof of Concepts running in the Accounts Payable space, including Xelix, so I am sure we will see value there in time.” 


Every day’s a school day 

We asked Rob to caption this image relating to his role heading up GBS at BAT so we could leave him with his very own meme to take away from The AP Arms... 🥁🥁🥁 


AP Arms - memes (1)


Watch the short video interview to get the full scoop. Huge thanks to Rob Bullen for joining us at The AP Arms and letting us in on the GBS roadmap for BAT.

Interested in popping in? Let us know – as a new establishment ‘round here, we’re always looking for more guests!

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