All posts by Amenallah Reghimi

How P2P will Become the Technology of the Future

Discover the value that a procure-to-pay (P2P) system can deliver to your business today and over the next five years.


The evolution of procure-to-pay (P2P) has accelerated dramatically over the past few years. And we can expect the pace to pick up further over the years to come. Originally, procure-to-pay / purchase-to-pay technology was seen as a way to connect procurement to finance via accounts payable, and as such it started life in the form of expensive and rather inflexible bolt-ons to on premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. No wonder that for many years, P2P did not have the greatest of reputations, even among procurement professionals.

In the early 2000s, dedicated eProcurement systems emerged. Yet, many large enterprises still do all their purchasing and accounts payables through their ERP systems, even though this leaves much of the process highly dependent on paper in the handling of purchases orders, requisitions, goods receipts and invoicing. Or, in one word, routine. Many ERP implementations even lack a requisitioning facility and a means to communicate electronically with suppliers.

As to accounts payable, in many organisations that do not have a dedicated, built for purpose procure-to-pay solution, vendor invoices still arrive by mail or email and the data must be keyed manually into an ERP or other finance system. If the benefits of touchless invoicing were not already apparent, they have certainly become so in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other major issue that continues to plague many organisations is our old friend, maverick spend (or off-contract buying), which is especially likely to occur when anyone looking to purchase items needed for everyday use is confronted with bureaucratic obstacles. Shopping online and submitting an expense report is much easier than submitting a requisition or purchase order that takes ages to process. Without a dedicated P2P system, maverick spend is difficult to monitor effectively. It results in lost money as employees buy at retail prices when you should be securing handsome bulk or wholesale discounts.

(Although worse than that, it forces happy-go-lucky procurement professionals into the role of jobsworths …)

And heaven knows, after years of online shopping with the likes of Amazon, corporate buyers expect the option to order online and enjoy an e-shopping experience comparable to the one they enjoy as private consumers. They expect an experience that is user-friendly, intuitive, and frictionless. Running low on stationery? Simply pick items from a catalog, review the shopping cart and place the order. And maybe pay with a V-card (single user account) number.

This can all be done via a procurement department’s P2P solution – against contracts negotiated with preferred suppliers. The P2P solution allows end-users to shop and track orders as easily as if they were shopping online, with the added benefit that all the information the procurement department needs is captured too, giving greater transparency. Plus, if the P2P solution is integrated with upstream processes such as contracts management and sourcing, the ability to monitor supplier performance against negotiated terms and non-price terms and conditions.

What you should look for in P2P now

A few years ago, people were still asking if procure-to-pay automation is worth it. I think that case has now been definitively answered. Especially if you wish to demonstrate the value of procurement – your value – to the business.

A P2P software suite integrates and automates the entire back-office lifecycle of requisitioning, purchasing, receiving, paying, and accounting for indirect goods and services. By creating standard workflows between buyers, procurement and accounting departments, a P2P solution should provide more transparency into, and control over, indirect spend and should create a more congenial relationship between all stakeholders. SaaS technology accessed in the cloud, such as the JAGGAER ONE suite, has made affordable, flexible and technically versatile solutions P2P available. A major advantage of SaaS is the ability to update functionality and innovate continuously without affecting the normal day-to-day operation of the core solution.

What you should look for in future 

Over the coming years P2P will increasingly leverage artificial intelligence, natural language processing and robotic procurement automation to deliver an even better buying experience on the one hand, while further cutting costs, increasing efficiency, reducing risk and improving governance and insight on the other. Generally speaking, you can expect P2P solutions to be more open, network-oriented, autonomous, collaborative and intelligent.

Here are seven trends that I think you can reasonably expect to reshape P2P not in some distant future but between now and 2025.

·   It will be a more collaborative environment for all stakeholders (internal and external) with full compliance, validations and approvals. P2P and MRP systems will collaborate through direct material order and fulfilment; P2P and corporate treasury will collaborate to support cash flow planning and optimize working capital

·   It will be more autonomous by taking charge of routine tasks such as all forms payment management and processing, improving the productivity of the payment process and the financial health of the supply chain

·   It will empower open business networks bringing together the entire community of buyers and suppliers, integrating and accessing external services and market intelligence feeds

·   It will be interactive with smart assistants assisting you through guided buying, vendor management and other chores

·   Enhanced intelligence will enable P2P systems to act proactively on behalf of users learning from and using all data sources and knowledge to make improvement recommendations to all stakeholder activities and the P2P process

·   It will deliver win-win finance programs to buyers and suppliers, for example dynamic discounting and supply chain finance programs

·   The focus of P2P will shift further from savings to value, reinforcing procurement’s profile as a strategic partner to the business

Conversational systems for guided buying and vendor management

Let’s stop calling them chatbots! Digital or smart help organizations will increase efficiency and achieve high levels of P2P user adoption because of their easy interfaces and clear answers. AI combined with natural language processing (NLP) has opened the door to new, more natural, and more intuitive interfaces that stimulate conversation with humans. There are many uses for digital assistants in procurement – too many to list here. However, the central issue is that procurement specialists are increasingly dealing with vast quantities of data, which means that a lot of their time is spent looking for information rather than using it. They will enable procurement specialists to converse with their AI-powered procurement software, which will do the heavy lifting involved in finding the relevant information and making intelligent suggestions as to what actions need to be taken in specific situations.

Through machine learning the digital assistant will be able learn about your preferences and your organisation’s policies and procedures. A good example is guided buying, whereby a person who needs to buy something will interact with procurement via a conversation conducted by a digital assistant. Based on the procurement strategy (preferred suppliers, preferred items, contracts in place, history of purchases, etc.), the digital assistant will propose solutions, perhaps looking through huge volumes of catalog entries to identify specific products or suggest alternatives.

Digital assistants can also be deployed for handling queries from suppliers, avoiding a lot of back-and-forth correspondences. I think they will become more engaging and human-like in their interactions with you. That, after all, was the original promise of artificial intelligence. But nobody’s perfect, so if the digital assistant cannot find the right answer, it can of course direct the user to a genuine flesh and blood procurement professional (you, for instance).

What innovations would you like to see, or expect to see, in procure-to-pay over the next five years? Let us know in the comments below! Keep up with the latest innovations at the 2020 Global Big Ideas Summit.

Procurement Innovation – What’s Next?

Procurement has seen some revolutionary changes over the last two and a half decades. From manual processes to powerful P2P Suites, there is no denying that procurement is becoming more innovative and tech savvy. But as a whole procurement tends to lag behind other professions – it’s time to lead the way for innovation, but where do we go from here?


Technology is driving industry forward at an exponential rate, globally. It’s hard to think of an industry that hasn’t adopted a new technology, at least to some extent, in the last several years. Technological breakthroughs are changing the world over, both from a consumer perspective, but also from a business one. From smart phone companies using fingerprint scanning and facial recognition to car companies implementing park-assist, adaptive cruise control, and in some cases, even self-driving capabilities. This is truly a world driven by innovation, and most industries and business sectors are investing heavily to that end. But what is procurement doing to keep up?

Where We’ve Been

To answer that, first it is important to see how far the profession has come. Although it has taken longer than other markets – the progress has been remarkable.

·   Manual Processes – Like most, this is what dominated the industry for a large period of time. Everything was done manually, from drawing up contracts, to sourcing and purchasing materials. This was quite a time-consuming process at a time when procurement lacked the complexity of today.

·   Emails & Spreadsheets – As technology began to become more mainstream the manual communications started to give way to emails, no longer requiring procurement professionals to travel onsite as often. The use of spreadsheets began to build the framework of an organizational system with excel becoming the main database of choice for many in procurement.

·   ERPs – Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software that handles business process management it allows an organization to use a series of integrated applications to control and automate many functions related to technology, services and human resources. This is one of the most widely adopted pieces of technology used in procurement today.

·   S2P Systems – This is the current cutting-edge procurement technology. A good S2P suite can bring cost savings, efficiencies and data visibility to your business. Our source-to-pay (S2P) platform, JAGGAER ONE, is a comprehensive suite that automates, optimizes and provides insights across the source-to-pay spectrum. Integrating seamlessly with your ERP, JAGGAER ONE can provide data transparency and visibility, while giving access to a powerful suite of end-to-end supply chain and sourcing solutions.

Procurement is at a Cross-Roads

Procurement has long been a cost-focused profession, largely relying on siloed processes and teams, taking a reactive and tactical approach. And, at one time, that was all that procurement needed to do. But it is now time for procurement to move into a new role – one that takes charge of the business and leads the way, becoming an integral part of the overall business strategy.

I believe that procurement professionals around the world stand on the threshold of a new age. The old paradigm of cost reduction, being reactive and only focusing on purchasing is drawing to a close. In this dynamic, complex and disruptive era, procurement leaders and experts the world over are searching for a secure, successful future.

With technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) becoming more mainstream, the applications for procurement are virtually limitless. Technology like JAGGAER’s Smart Assistant, which is powered by AI, is one such possibility. This conversational platform designed for procurement is a powerful tool, which will eliminate much of the tedious and manual processes that still plague the procurement profession today. AI will be a driving factor in the development of the procurement profession.

Where We’re Going

The result of all these technological advances in several years’ time will be autonomous procurement. As I’ve written in a previous blog “autonomous procurement is a platform with embedded intelligence, but a system that also continues to build on those capabilities to automate the full source to pay process without human interaction. However, this will happen only in instances where human input isn’t necessary or desired, such as repetitive or time-consuming tasks”.

It is incredibly important to remember that autonomous procurement is not meant to eliminate human input or the role of procurement professionals. The end goal here is to augment people, freeing up time to focus on value adding tasks and strategic thinking. Human insight is crucial in business – but this is all about using technology to eliminate mistakes, monotony and cut out repetitive patterns. The future platform will assist you at every step of the source-to-pay process and over time it will manage more & more complex activities autonomously, so we can focus on doing strategic analysis to unlock new opportunities.

The procurement leaders of the future will need to combine strategic thinking, along with an analytical mindset. Leaders are crucial in today’s times, especially with the rise of AI, algorithms and automation. In order to stay ahead of the curve procurement professionals will have to evolve – becoming more data-driven and strategic, because that is something that will always require a human touch. 

To find out more about where procurement has been, where it’s going, and what you can do to stay ahead register for our webinar with Gartner, Deloitte and Blue Shield.

Where do you think procurement is headed? Let us know.

Will Autonomous Procurement Cost Me My Job?

Autonomous procurement is no science fiction. It will happen. How can you expect it to change the nature of procurement as a discipline and a career path?


Nottingham, England, 1811: at a time when wages were being depressed to starvation levels and skilled artisans put out of work by the introduction of machinery operated by unskilled labor, weavers led by the mythical General Ned Ludd organised a campaign of smashing machinery. They became known as the Luddites. Ever since, the term Luddism has come to mean opposition to industrialisation, automation, computerisation, or new technologies in general.

More than two centuries of technological advances later, nobody smashes up machines. Because, unlike in 1811, automation is not destroying a way of life. Sophisticated levels of automation are accepted as the norm in manufacturing industry and other sectors as diverse as agriculture and finance. Generally speaking, the higher the level of automation, the higher the level of salaries. Manufacturing and process plants that use robots or other technology to automate routine tasks tend to have a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. And in future, many tasks will be performed, in part or in whole, autonomously.

Nevertheless, people are uneasy about rapid change and the insecurity it causes. And since the start of the first industrial revolution, the rate of change has accelerated. For the first 200 years, progress was mainly focused on gradual improvements in engineering and mechanisation and the harnessing of different sources of energy. Then came computers, then the Internet, and with them, digitisation. A whole new era. Even so, until now digitization has mainly involved the transfer of manual processes onto computers. Even now automation such as it exists is mainly limited to extremely low-level routine tasks where human activity is replaced by rules-driven robotic process automation.

Further acceleration is on its way with Industry 4.0, because of the sheer volume of data that can drive machine learning and the steadily increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence.

Autonomous production will rely on the harnessing of data and software to move from reactive artificial intelligence to prescriptive. For example, with reactive manufacturing, defects are discovered at the end of the line and the production team responds to correct the observed error. Until then, the factory keeps turning out defective goods. A prescriptive AI system, by contrast, identifies potential errors in advance and makes small changes to avoid future quality failures. These small corrective actions are made autonomously, in anticipation of defects, and thereby reduce the cost of non-quality.

We are now poised to see similar developments in procurement.

From automated procurement to autonomous procurement

How will this progress unfold? Spend Matters has identified four levels in a journey “that starts with technology that that assists buyers in completing tasks and ends with a platform that applies knowledge that is collected from buyers to do the tedious parts of their jobs for them”.

The four levels are:

Level One – Automation built on assistive intelligence

Level Two – Augmented procurement built on augmented intelligence

Level Three – Intelligent procurement built on cognitive intelligence

Level Four – Autonomous procurement built on autonomous intelligence

A truly autonomous procurement solution will not only have cognitive capabilities embedded throughout the platform but will build on those capabilities to automate entire sourcing and procurement processes without any buyer interference whatsoever, when the opportunity arises. Such a scenario is not imminent, but nor is it science fiction. It is something that we are moving towards gradually; our view of the destination is still rather hazy, but we can see it. With this ultimate state, systems will not only learn from humans and adapt their behaviour using cognitive abilities but also learn and adapt to new tasks and situations like an expert would, without always having to surface exceptions for human review.

 Let’s put things in perspective

But even if it does not happen overnight, does this mean procurement professionals will ultimately lose their jobs? There is no short answer, but it is certain that many tedious human tasks and activities will be displaced. There are some tasks that robots and other technology are good at, and others that only humans can do. But let’s put things in perspective. According to a report published by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2017, only 5% of human occupations can be fully automated, although approximately 60% of occupations have at least 30% of technically automatable activities. The activities that it identified as most susceptible to automation are physical ones in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as data collection and processing.

Thus, up to two-thirds of jobs will change to a significant extent. Some jobs will disappear, but will be replaced by growth in other, more interesting activities. Check out this website. Enter “Procurement Clerk” and it will return a 98% probability that the job will eventually be replaced by what it calls “robots”, i.e. digital technology. But enter “Purchasing Manager” and the risk sinks to a virtually negligible 3%: the risk level is “totally safe”. With “Logistician” the risk is even lower, at 1.2%. It is easy to detect the pattern here: the more your job depends on human intellect and the less it depends on routine, the safer you are, even if aspects of your job can and will be automated.

In short, fewer boring activities, more value-adding and strategic activities.

I think there is a recognition that we cannot hold back technological progress, even if we want to, and that technological progress is an imperative in a dynamic, competitive environment. Nevertheless, fears persist. Some have expressed the fear that autonomous procurement will rob procurement professionals of critical activities such as sourcing, contracting, managing, and executing purchases with the suppliers of goods and services. But in my opinion, these are precisely the activities that cannot be handled by technology alone, with the exception of execution, and even here, there will be need for human intervention.

Autonomous procurement will use prescriptive AI to anticipate and correct small “quality defects” in execution before they happen. While each of these corrections is small in itself, they will add up to big benefits in terms of cost savings and performance improvements. But this will not replace the bigger decisions that will still depend on the ability of procurement professionals to make decisions based on a combination of data analysis and experience. In other words, procurement professionals will be freed up to focus on things like identifying new opportunities through category rationalisation. Once these activities are done, autonomous procurement will take care of formerly labour-intensive tasks such as setting up and executing an entire sourcing event from start to finish.

It is worth mentioning that increasing levels of automation in procurement will play a decisive role in attracting talent into the profession in future. Young talent and tedious, routine work do not mix well! As David McBride, Transformation & Strategy Director at real estate professional services company JLL put it, “Younger procurement professionals entering large organisations now expect to use cutting edge technology.”

In which areas of your role would you find autonomous procurement capabilities most useful?  Let us know in the comments below.