When attempting to automate the various parts of the procure-to-pay (P2P) process, traditionally enterprises have encountered difficulties balancing both sides and achieving full value. Previously it was commonplace for corporations to automate the first “P,” requisitions purchase orders, without considering the second “P,” invoicing and payments. This meant that initial investments in P2P fell short because they could not extend to cover the full process.
Enterprises now are looking to the cloud for complete, all encompassing procure-to-pay solutions to effectively and efficiently transact, communicate and collaborate with their suppliers. Businesses today are more dependent on their suppliers than ever before to deliver goods and services to their customers. This is why being able to connect to suppliers in a meaningful way is so important.
Transforming the P2P process is easier and more cost effective than ever before due to the availability and optimization of cloud-based solutions. A strong cloud solution typically has a higher ROI than an installed solution due to the lower upfront cost and subscription or usage-based pricing model; this also makes for a better business case.
When you are ready to implement a cloud-based P2P process, how do you ensure full value is derived? Following the guidelines highlighted below will help make a fluid transition to the bright new world of a cloud-based P2P process.
1. Consider the full P2P process when evaluating an automation initiative – Whether automating all or part of the P2P process, it is important to understand and evaluate the full process. It often involves multiple stakeholders (procurement, AP, treasury, IT and suppliers). It is vital to work toward linking P2P processes and systems and taking into consideration the full process from the beginning helps to build a solid foundation.
2. Evaluate Usability/Ease-of-use – If the enterprise hopes to drive adoption among internal users and suppliers, the P2P process should be simple and intuitive. Shoot for a solution that requires no training. Make sure your platform is easy to use, otherwise you will have to deal with numerous support requests, low adoption (internal users and suppliers) and general change management issues.
3. Fully mobile experience – Cloud-based P2P solutions are more likely to offer more robust mobile capabilities, such as approving, reviewing and in some rare cases, full capabilities via mobile device. It is imperative to understand the exact mobile capabilities provided as this is likely to affect the new generation of business users who will expect such capabilities (e.g., millennials). Users will increasingly want a fully integrated mobile experience.
4. Integrate with ERP – Smooth integrations to existing ERP systems is table stakes for P2P solutions. What will differentiate solutions is how flexible and extensible it is and how it will adapt to future needs. Cloud-based open architecture platform lets you customize and “future proof” your P2P solution, no more rip-and-replace when new functionality is needed, it can be as simple as adding new Apps.
5. Ensure Value to Buyers and Suppliers – Without providing sufficient value to suppliers, enterprises will continue to face the challenge of supplier enablement, this will directly impact the ROI of a P2P solution and the value generated. For a significant amount of suppliers to join a platform, they must find value in doing so. Here are some questions to ask of P2P solution providers: How easy is it for suppliers to join? Does it cost them anything? Is it only applicable to large suppliers or all suppliers? Can suppliers interact with multiple customers or just one at a time?