ProcureCon recently hosted their Indirect Virtual event. The 2-day online forum included industry luminaries from a variety of companies discussing topics around the broad topics of “Building Sustainability into the Core Mission of the Procurement Organization” and “Scaling Best-Practices with the Right Strategy and Architecture”.
During the 2nd day of the event, Josh Volchko, Sr. Solutions Consultant at BuyerQuest delivered his presentation, “Scaling Procure-to-Pay Best Practices.” During the discussion, Josh explored the different areas of risk as businesses grow and the role of a flexible, adaptable technology to mitigate those risks.
User Experience is the Foundation
For a small company to scale its processes and increase its level of automation, creating a “good” user experience is critical. The end-user community, which in the case of procure-to-pay technology could be anyone in the company that makes a purchase, drives the success of the system. The more intuitive the technology, the more likely users will embrace it. As companies grow, it is likely staff will be onboarded rapidly, or certain roles may have high turnover. Easy-to-use purchasing technology makes training time negligible and drives user adoption.
When thinking about purchasing, a highly engaged user community that makes purchases through the corporate system will drive high levels of on-contract spend.
Mitigating Risk as the Business Grows
As businesses start to grow, the old, manual ways of working will quickly become difficult to maintain. This increases risk to the business across several areas as the company looks to drive best practices.
A growing business calls for a greater scope of accounting and budgeting. It is critical to ensure proper recording of purchases to accounting codes to ensure spending is correctly applied to the appropriate GL code.
Growing businesses tend to expand their supplier ecosystem. In addition, they start to build negotiating leverage with suppliers. As mentioned above, it is important to make it easy for users to buy with approved suppliers. Including supplier catalogs into a single marketplace for both goods and services ensures that users go to one centralized location to find the goods and services they need.
This structure also gives smaller, strategic suppliers access to the right buyers in the organization. Engaging these suppliers in the marketplace eliminates the need for them to build the infrastructure themselves.
Allowing suppliers to manage their catalogs in the marketplace ensures regular updates, with the ability for the business to review and approve those updates ensures a strong partnership as the business grows.
Many companies, large and small, struggle with users making purchases of items that are not preferred. For businesses looking to grow, using a technology that highlights the preferred item and compares those features to other, similar items (computers, for example) encourages users to not only buy the preferred products but do so faster, without the need to research similar items on their own. These simple additions drive ROI and reduce the time to process requisitions.
Businesses that are increasing in size are likely struggling with a more complex organizational structure and approval chains for purchases. To successfully scale the business, reducing the organizational risk with checks and balances through activities like automated approval chains helps ensure visibility to user purchasing. This may include monitoring purchasing of items to be sure they are within the buyer's role or being notified of purchases above a certain dollar value that must be approved. An approvals process does not necessarily need to be complex, but it should be easy for the manager/approver and flexible enough to add approvers on the fly, make notes, etc. In the end, an agile, auditable approval workflow will help support the growing business.
Most smaller businesses operate in a paper environment with a small number of suppliers. As the business scales, matching invoices and receiving against a purchase order becomes difficult to maintain using manual steps. It will still be important to have confidence that suppliers are charging the correct price for what was delivered vs the negotiated price on the PO. Automation of the matching of PO to Invoice makes the process efficient and effective as the business scales.
Businesses large and small learned a hard lesson when staff worked from home during the pandemic. The paper-based AP process could not be sustained. Manually processing payments and cutting checks to suppliers became more difficult. Businesses beginning to scale need to be flexible with the payment methods to suppliers. This should include virtual card, ACH/Wire, and checks with full tracking. Many businesses are seeing the value of using virtual cards to make payments to suppliers and realize rebates. Automating this process reduces the risk of manual check writing.
Integrated into a Growing Technology Ecosystem
Small businesses may be using simple accounting tools like Quickbooks to manage finances. As the business scales, these technologies need to be upgraded to support more complex financial, HR, and other organizational needs. Scalable businesses take advantage of tools with open application programming interfaces (APIs) that can seamlessly integrate into corporate ERP, MRP or other systems. This flexibility supports the natural technology evolution of the business.
BuyerQuest and Scaling Procure-to-Pay
BuyerQuest works with businesses large and small to deliver a flexible, agile technology that can be deployed in a modular fashion, growing as the business grows. Built with the philosophy that an intuitive, Amazon-like buying experience encourages user adoption and on-contract spend, the BuyerQuest platform can manage a business’ procure-to-pay process from contract to payment.
Built to integrate into a technology ecosystem, BuyerQuest can seamlessly connect to large and small ERP, MRP and accounting systems.
The BuyerQuest platform delivers all the controls of business-to-business procurement with the added simplicity of a user-friendly buying experience.
For businesses that are scaling their procure-to-pay technologies, BuyerQuest is agile and adaptable, able to fit each phase of growth.