Strategies for Successfully Implementing a Procure to Pay Solution in your Organization

Sabrina Palmer

June 29, 2015

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What's all the hype about procure to pay solutions?

If you are a business professional, management consultant, or even if you are only following #procurement on social media, you are seeing lots of buzz about procure to pay solutions. From white papers that provide thought leadership on subjects that help procurement leaders make better decisions to advertising new product offerings that round out a suite of solutions, many of us have undoubtedly seen just a few of these examples. Procure to Pay Solution providers are actively marketing their global user conferences to engage their current customer base and to allow potential customers to understand how their current functionality provides value. In a market space that is highly competitive, each company uses the intricacies of the researcher evaluation to distinguish itself and its solutions.

Procure to pay, the process of purchasing goods and services from a supplier and paying that supplier for their goods and/or services, is a core business process in all organizations. Every sub-process of the procure to pay continuum is supported by technology. Today, software providers offer supplier management solutions which allow their customers to manage the process of collecting supplier data, managing supplier data, and reporting on supplier spend. Other processes are also technology enabled, including catalog management, product searching, requisition workflow and order management. Electronic invoices and digital document capture are just a few of the automation technologies that are available for accounts payable processes. 

With the introduction of the internet in the nineties, gone are the days of passing around the office supply catalog and collecting office supplies orders. Organizations are no longer flipping through the maintenance and repair supplies catalog to find the parts needed for maintenance of facilities and equipment. How many of you remember walking around the office with a paper requisition to be signed? Or, routing it in interoffice mail and then waiting weeks for someone to approve your purchase request? And then wondering if they received it? These questions are a thing of the past. You no longer have to wonder where your request is. 

Electronic online catalogs, user friendly shopping experiences, and automated requisition approval workflow provide visibility into the approval process. This functionality has been around for some time. Over the last four to five years, organizations have faced increased pressure to manage their cost in a tangible, measurable way. The result is a market previously dominated by a few key players has seen an increase in procure to pay solution providers. The need for organizations to control costs through how they procure goods and services has a direct impact on their bottom-line. Gaining the visibility to evaluate and to optimize procure to pay processes by reducing off contract spend, improving productivity, increasing supplier discounts are all results that are achieved by using procure to pay solutions. Solution providers have sniffed out this need and are actively vying to become a leader in this space. The initial focus of providing procure to pay solutions to the large leading organizations has shifted to small to medium organizations in every sector because of the investment this segment of the market expects to make in the procure to pay software. Organizations who have significant annual revenue and or procurement spend can reap the rewards of investing in a suite of applications to manage their procure to pay processes.

Because of the number of competitors in the market over the last five years, each provider has had to look internally at their own strengths in order to define the reality of how they will compete in the marketplace. Many of whom have different niches than the others. Some providers are mature in automating e-procurement processes while they are immature in the accounts payable function. And there are others who are leaders in e-procurement but lack a defined contract management life-cycle suite. Rather than make the investment to develop the functionality that they are missing, providers have looked to acquisitions or to partnerships to add specific features to their portfolio. And while there may be duplication of functionality after the acquisition or partnership initially, each solution provider reconciles that the purpose of the acquisition is to add a specific feature to their list of offerings and to leverage each other's strengths. This consolidation and alliance point to the nature of the competitiveness of the market.

With strong competition, solution providers want to keep their market share as others try to get a bigger segment. 

About the Author:

With more than 10 years of experience, Sabrina has a proven track record of knowing how to get the job done when working with clients to help them raise their productivity levels. In her current professional role, Sabrina puts her leadership skills and expertise to work to help organizations improve their bottom line by implementing technology solutions to automate their procure-to-pay processes.

Sabrina is a first generation college student and graduate. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Columbia University and a Masters in Information Systems from Steven's Institute of Technology. She is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt and Kaizen Leader.

When Sabrina isn't busy leading a team or project, she is spending quality time with her husband and their two children in Raleigh, NC.

What others are saying about Sabrina:
"Sabrina is known to be a 'make a difference leader' that drives sustainable and impactful results."

"It was a pleasure to work with Sabrina as a client. Sabrina brings great abilities and character traits that are not easy to find in the world today."

Her favorite quote:
'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.'
~ Vivian Greene

You can learn more about Sabrina Palmer here:
twitter: @sabbynyc

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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