Implementing procure-to-pay software solutions is the most efficient approach for organizations to improve efficiency in buying needed services, resources, and items and then to pay for them. When assessing your alternatives, it’s critical to examine your company’s major procurement and accounting payment difficulties.
When assessing procure-to-pay technologies, what questions should you ask?
- Is it possible to fully automate the processing of all invoice formats using the software?
A procure-to-pay solution’s sole objective is to expedite procedures while saving time and money by automating otherwise time-consuming tasks. One of the most fundamental ways procure-to-pay solution providers can do this is to ensure that all invoice types can be handled without requiring manual intervention from staff.
The top procure-to-pay solution providers will show that their systems can process invoices in any format, including PDF and old-fashioned paper, extracting and organizing the required data for use within the system.
- Can line-item requisitioning be done in the system?
When a buyer wants to request numerous products on the same order, procure-to-pay system providers must accommodate multiple asynchronous purchase-order approvals without causing the entire order to stall.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, many procure-to-pay systems are set up so that if 15 products are requested at once, the entire order is held up until the appropriate management approves each item. This is a big waste of time. Flexible invoice approval protocols should be available in all procure-to-pay systems to avoid tying up orders needlessly.
- Is there real-time budget visibility in the procure-to-pay system?
One of the most significant advantages of completely automated procure-to-pay systems is the increased visibility it provides. The availability of spend analysis information, rogue spending, order volumes for the most in-demand commodities, and inventory leaks can all be brought to light and exposed.
Dynamic budgeting and real-time spend down report features can often cover the cost of the procure-to-pay system on its own. However, visibility must be provided on-demand and real-time, rather than only at the end of the month in summary reports.
Observing how requisitions and purchase orders influence the budget as they are placed is a powerful tool that can help managers better understand their budgets and eliminate unnecessary spending. When these components are only visible at the end of the month, long after the purchase orders have been issued, money is left on the table that should be in the company’s bank accounts.
- Is the system set up as a multi-tenant environment?
When it comes to upgrades and updates, you need to ensure that everyone in your company uses the same version. This applies to all clients of the software. All clients should, in theory, be on the same version, and procure-to-pay solution providers should have a single copy of the source code. Organizations should strive for a streamlined solution that differs only by pre-configured permissions depending on individual users or departments.
- Will I be able to design sophisticated workflows?
The capacity to construct sophisticated approval workflows is related to the first question. While the goal should always simplify approval processes, certain business conditions and regulations necessitate greater complexity, which you should not ignore because your system isn’t smart enough to handle it. Don’t be fooled by the solution provider’s attempts to oversimplify things or persuade you with a slick user interface; you need flexibility.
Instead of creating various workarounds that you must manage, the tool should develop comprehensive workflows that handle all of your demands. In addition, you should set up the workflow once and leave it unchanged, rather than tweak it frequently to meet business needs, which is better from a compliance aspect.
- Is it simple to utilize the sourcing tool?
The majority of purchase-to-pay solutions now include sourcing as part of the overall package. In terms of value, this helps Procurement focus on suppliers and other strategic procurement efforts by streamlining more of their work. It should be user-friendly and not more difficult than manual sourcing operations if you provide this feature to make someone’s day-to-day work easier.
- Is it true that the invoice automation solution can handle all invoice formats?
Invoice automation is a minefield of hidden flaws. We frequently hear solution providers emphasize collecting more PO-backed invoices to cover solution flaws, while in reality, achieving a greater PO % would not address your difficulties. So, let’s be clear about a few things: you’ll always have a percentage of non-PO invoices, and paper/email invoices aren’t going away anytime soon, but there’s no reason you can’t automate their processing.
As a result, you should select a system that can automatically ingest and process any invoice type and convert them to true e-invoices. Your suppliers don’t have to change how they do business today – they can continue to send paper invoices – but you can still receive an electronic invoice. The importance of automating this procedure cannot be overstated. Using automation, you should eliminate the requirement for your AP personnel to enter invoices into the system manually.
In addition, it should automate approvals, handle exceptions such as excess charges, create all bookkeeping information automatically, and precisely map spend to relevant categories, regardless of invoice quality or supplier change management. This implies that the supply chain will not be disrupted, and you will be able to bring all of your suppliers on board.
- Is the analytics solution customizable and offers out-of-the-box reporting?
You don’t want to have to contact a customer care agent every time you want to examine your financial data in a specific way — it’s inconvenient, time-consuming, and, depending on your service agreement, perhaps pricey. Make sure the analytics tool has configurable dashboards and reports with standard views to give you a starting point for your analysis while allowing you to drill down into the details as needed at the same time. It should allow you to easily create, configure, and export your data in the format you require. Analytics should simplify your life, not complicate it.
- What is the procedure for upgrading?
You must receive upgrades regularly to realize those benefits. Ideally, you should use a multi-tenant SaaS setup (if you want the technical details, ask your IT department head-he or she will know exactly what that implies). In summary, this allows every consumer in the environment to upgrade to the most recent version simultaneously. Other environments delay customer upgrades, meaning that not everyone gets access to the latest functionality and bug patches (including compliance-related features), and worse; they fall behind on their upgrades. Due to scattered support across several versions, some customers electing to forgo upgrades and falling farther behind, and difficulty maintaining the system, begins to pose genuine problems.
- When custom fields are upgraded, what happens to them?
When you upgrade, the custom fields you build and the data connected with them should remain intact. You put a lot of time and effort into designing custom fields during implementation; there’s no reason your solution administrator should have to go back in and rework everything every time an upgrade occurs. This is a waste of effort, and if those fields are not re-activated as soon as possible, you risk losing data acquisition.