Searching and evaluating the right Procure-to-Pay (P2P) software can be a daunting, and sometimes frustrating, task.
Whether you are an experienced Procurement professional with years of Category expertise and have spent long hours within your ERP and P2P platform, or you are scouting for the right platform for your company for the first time, knowing what you need is vital. But equally important is knowing what you DON’T need.
Understanding your requirements and avoiding any rabbit holes of add-on features and customization is crucial to objectively evaluating the right software for your organization. Don’t be fooled by bells and whistles, ask the right questions…
And don’t be duped by these FOUR P2P pitfalls:
One of the most important aspects of an effective P2P platform is seamless ERP integration. This may seem like common sense to some, but an often-overlooked component is ERP integration for multiple instances. For example, if you run multiple instances of different ERPs for different departments and organizations or if you plan to centralize your purchasing with new P2P software, it is important that the upstream and downstream can connect and communicate with limited manual inputs. Moreover, involve your tech team in any discussions to understand the nuance of the systems and how they will communicate with one another. Understanding this piece early on is important, so be sure to ask the questions around ERP integration and confirm these aren’t just buzz words to check the box.
Authority Limits + Approvals
Don’t overcomplicate the authority limits and approval/decision trees. This can be as simple as skip-not-step approval flows or out-of-office delegation, but if you have multiple categories and approvers by spend, take some time to understand how approvals work within a given module. Compare your current approval process to the proposed solution and try and identify opportunities for bottlenecks within the new platform. Different platforms advertise approval tree/flow capabilities but be sure to ask the questions around these capabilities and ensure that it makes sense for your team or organization.
Catalogs within a given tool can be an important asset to your Procurement or Purchasing department, but don’t be fooled by lavish user interfaces. Probe into the functionality of the catalogs, and, equally as important, how off-catalog purchasing works. For most organizations, catalogs can satisfy a substantial amount of your needs, but look beyond just a “standard purchase” during a demo session and question different key functions like punch-outs, blanket POs, and other requisition types you see within your organization. Moreover, make sure the process to initiate an off-catalog request is simple and convenient for the user as these will take time to triage, process, and complete. Don’t lose valuable time redirecting users from catalog to off-catalog request types. Users shouldn’t be redirected to several pages before they can successfully submit their request.
Lift + Shift
Like I have stressed before, don’t fall for a lift and shift. This can mean different things for different organizations, but when implementing a new P2P platform, you first need to revisit how your organization and processes work. Simply placing new software over broken processes won’t solve any underlying or lingering issues within your Procurement or Purchasing departments. Ask yourself if your process works because of your technology or in spite of your technology and contemplate how improving certain functions and processes can be improved, both from a tactical perspective and from a software perspective. When shopping for new software, also consider leveraging consulting services to help make an educated choice and implement with confidence by having a trusted advisor by your side. These advisors or consultants should be familiar with the major players in P2P software and know what features are important to different sized organizations. This way, they can help sort and filter the right candidates for your organization, ultimately helping you save time and money in the process.
If you are just embarking on your P2P journey or looking for the next right tool to take your organization to the next level, don’t gloss over these components of the software and take time to understand how these functions play a role in your current process. User experience and interfaces are important for end users but remember to focus on some of the more functional components that may not be front and center, as these can inevitably be pitfalls that lead to another failed implementation.