Procurement management is a critical process and technology has been playing a major role in driving its efficiency.
The procure-to-pay cycle, which involves everything from requests-to-suppliers to final payments, requires solid control and faster turnaround. It helps improve organisational efficiency by a big margin. According to FSN, an independent research and publishing organisation, “Automating the procure-to-pay process will be the easiest way to drive significant benefits for any organisation, whether it is a large public sector company or a small trading firm.”
The traditional or manual procure-to-pay process is exceptionally labor and document intensive. It involves processing mountains of paperwork, cutting through bureaucracy for purchase-order placements, gaining budget approvals and managing payments. That’s time-consuming and error-prone and brings low supplier satisfaction. But with automated procure-to-pay systems, work becomes much simpler.
The Benefits of Automation
Procurement efficiency can trigger a chain reaction that leads to better efficiency and a healthy return on investment. Experts point out that organisations using automation have an average of two-day purchase-order cycles, compared to the 7-day cycle for firms that use the manual process.
Automation of the procure-to-pay cycle streamlines the process and delivers key benefits like:
- Faster communication with suppliers
Automation provides real-time interaction with the suppliers, which reduces time-consuming paperwork. Suppliers can instantly access the documents, contracts and the information that helps them understand the process completely. Employees get to access best practices online, deliver faster decisions and select the best course of action. Faster decision-making helps to improve efficiency of the procure-to-pay cycle.
- Quicker cycle times with purchase orders and approvals
In most organisations, workers spend most of their time drawing up contracts and reworking them to incorporate changes. But with automation of contracts, management becomes easier. Online templates, where minor changes can be easily incorporated, help to save time.
You need not reinvent the wheel all the time by creating contracts from scratch for every supplier. Existing contracts can be stored and reused as and when required. Receipts, invoices, account information and other documents can be easily replicated with appropriate templates readily available within the system.
- Instant data capture
The procure-to-pay cycle is extremely paper intensive. Online invoices, receipts and bills, which can be easily mailed to suppliers, reduce the effort and time spent on manualkeying. With the proliferation of mobile devices, apps can be used by employees to validate documents and upload relevant information from any part of the company. Therefore, an employee from the warehouse can easily send real-time information, which can be monitored by the accounts department instantly.
- Better audit trail
The use of standard templates, online interactions and real-time document uploads create an audit trail that can be instantly identified. All communication with suppliers and other pipeline partners is captured. It can be referred to in case of disputes. Multiple stakeholders and departments can simultaneously view the interactions, and thus facilitate greater visibility and transparency.
- On the go authorisation
Once the invoice has been generated, it requires approvals from different departments. Automation can trigger electronic authorisation and the data can be immediately entered for final processing. Multiple approvals can be configured within the system. Mobile access authorisation helps fast-tracking the approvals for users on the go. The system also sends email alerts for pending work, thus reducing the cycle time.
- Faster payment cycles
Automated procure-to-pay has reduced supplier lead times, creating better trust for company actions. Executives can streamline company strategies to ensure that employees and stakeholders are trained to access and utilise the system for better outcomes.
Organisations that have automated procure-to-pay systems have clear advantages over those who continue with manual processing. Automation helps in driving up efficiency and utilising your workforce for developing effective strategies.
Ashly J is veteran industry expert working as a Marketing Operations Manager in India. She focuses on growing Expenzing procure-to-pay systems as an open source product, and communicates the value of identity to customers, partners, and the larger community, by targeting specific markets through segmentation and analysis.