This blog comes to us from Ashley Brizendine, Marketing Manager at Determine, a Corcentric Company.
The search for a P2P solution (purchase-to-pay) software can be daunting and, quite frankly, mind-boggling. Identifying a tool that best fits organizational business processes, user needs and the desires of stakeholders can be downright exhausting — especially if you’ve never implemented an outside solution before. Knowing some of the key features and benefits to look for in a worthy P2P solution will help make the search a bit more bearable, and empower your organization to choose a tool that everyone will be happy with.
1. Lives in “The Cloud”
P2P software comes in a few different forms. Some organizations choose to build a tool internally, while others purchase software that is then implemented and hosted on-premise. Both of these options come with a higher cost of ownership and, oftentimes, clunky configuration. A best-in-breed P2P solution will offer dynamic cloud-based software. With software that lives in the cloud, the vendor remains responsible for the overall functionality of the tool and partners with organizations to support ongoing business needs and processes.
2. Automates purchase orders
Chances are — if you’re searching for purchase-to-pay software it’s because you’re trying to make daily operations more efficient. And of course, there’s no harm in making things easier for you and your procurement team, either. With that being said, automation is the way to go. An automated procurement process from requisition to P.O. to supplier submission workflow that’s audited, validated and error-free should be a required feature of any solution you are investigating.
One of the most elusive features to find in a sustainable P2P solution is configurability. Due to major differences in business processes from one organization to the next, a cookie-cutter software solution seems like an easy fix, right? Unfortunately, these typically require a great deal of process adaptation and change management on the buyer’s side. The right P2P tool will enable its users to adapt the solution to their workflow and business needs — not vice versa.
4. Exists as a single source of data
If you’ve been in the procurement space for some time, you’ve likely heard the stories about nightmarish processes where the entire purchase-to-pay stream was spread out amongst various tools, departments and approvers. Some of the benefits of having a single source of data include:
- Promotes collaboration between requisitioners and suppliers
- Improves user adoption
- Helps control spend and maverick buyers
- Monitors performance, compliance and risk
5. Provides visibility into process and data workflows
Going from catalog to payment is a chain reaction — a group of processes running in series and/or parallel for both the goods or service and the order/payment processing. The ideal P2P solution will provide a dashboard of sorts, giving needed personnel the visibility into each step of the process while streamlining governance, capturing savings and gathering data for later analysis. This increased visibility enables your procurement team to be more intentional in sourcing goods and services while expanding cost-saving efforts.
6. Catalog Management
What good is a fancy new procurement solution if it doesn’t actually make things easier? Catalog management is all the rave these days (at least in procurement). Top of the line procurement solutions will give users easy-to-navigate, simple search and purchase capabilities. Think about searching for something on Google, or buying something from Amazon — the idyllic experience — just in your P2P software.
While not all procurement solutions include e-Invoicing, there are some out there that offer it. Essentially, e-Invoicing is the automation and alignment between procurement and accounts payable. It helps speed up the payment portion of the purchase-to-pay cycle while maintaining visibility and compliance. You may not find this to be a necessity when looking at various P2P software, but it proves beneficial if you are looking to enhance payment control and overall responsiveness to invoices.
8. Built-in reporting capabilities
Automated reporting capabilities, as well as the ability to build independent reports, is a feature that is much-desired by procurement professionals. Built-in reporting provides users with strategic insight and control over real-time savings and spend management. P2P tools that capture important data throughout the purchase-to-pay lifecycle assist in monitoring performance, compliance and risk — and bring us to the Holy Grail of procurement…
9. Spend Analytics
What is your quest? To seek the Holy Grail! Which in procurement is, of course — savings. Best-in-breed P2P solutions will have embedded reporting capabilities to capture real-time data on savings, supplier spend, spend by region, and much more. This data is then analyzed and put into a digestible format so that you and your team can improve efficiency andcompliance, uncover maverick spend, and save more money for the organization.
10. Integrates with other tools
The benefits of having the right P2P solution in place can reach far beyond procurement, especially if the tool has the ability to integrate with other systems and/or exists on a platform that includes other modules that may impact procurement processes and efficiency, such as contract management, supplier management and sourcing.