Procure-to-Pay Automation: What It is and How to Implement It

The success and satisfaction of your employees largely hinges on your team’s ability to provide them with the tools and equipment they need, quickly.

To help you tackle this at scale, you can turn to procure-to-pay automation. This type of finance automation not only benefits the employees who submit the requests, but it also helps your team manage each and every request with little work and complete accuracy.

We’ll walk you through how to build a procure-to-pay automation process, and we’ll breakdown all of the benefits that it can bring to your organization, but let’s start by aligning on what we mean by the term.

Note: Procure-to-pay automation can come in a variety of alternative names. These include p2p automation, purchase-to-pay automation, and procure-to-pay process automation.

What is Procure-to-Pay Automation?

It’s the use of automation to streamline your procure-to-pay process from beginning (purchase requisition) to end (paying off invoice). 

To implement procure-to-pay automation, you’ll need a platform that can connect all of the relevant applications, and use triggers (or business events) that lead to actions (or real-time business outcomes). The next section highlights how these triggers and actions can work.

How to Automate Your Procure-to-Pay Process

An end-to-end purchase-to-pay automation requires 4 trigger-based workflows: 

Note: You can only build these workflows once you’ve used an enterprise automation platform to connect the relevant systems, such as your ERP, the supplier’s ERP, and your spend management tool. 

1.  Once the purchase order in the spend management tool gets created, it (along with other relevant info) automatically gets added to your ERP as well as the supplier’s.
2. After the item is marked as received in the spend management tool, the receipt-based information also gets added to the ERP. 
3. When the invoice gets created in the supplier’s ERP, the invoice instantly gets created in yours.
4. Once the invoice payment is made in your ERP, the purchase order in the spend management tool gets closed. 

Here’s the entire workflow in action, assuming you use NetSuite as your ERP and Coupa Software for managing spend, while your supplier uses Quick Base as their ERP:

Why is Procure-to-Pay Automation Important?

Based on the process outlined above, you probably have a solid grasp of the benefits procure-to-pay process automation offers. Here’s a broad list in case you miss any.

  • It enables employees to get what they need, quickly. This should go a long way in boosting their productivity and satisfaction.
  • It prevents mistakes by your team. If performed manually, your team is more prone to making errors (e.g. mistaking the item an employee requests).
  • It offers a scalable solution. As your organization grows, so too will procurement requests. Purchase-to-pay automation allows you to accommodate significantly more requests while marginally increasing the time you and your colleagues need to invest.
  • It improves vendor relationships. This streamlined approach allows your finance team to more easily pay vendors on time and in the correct amount.
  • It saves your team a significant amount of time. You and your colleagues can use your newfound time to focus on other business-critical, strategic initiatives instead. 

These benefits, along with many others, aren’t lost on the teams that play a role in building their organizations’ p2p automations. 

When we surveyed business technology professionals earlier this year, we found that procure to pay was high on their list of desired automations as well as one that many have already built.

BT professionals ranked it as their 3rd most desired automation:

A list of automation use cases that BT professionals desire to build in descending order.

And it was the 3rd most popular automation to build:

A list of automation use cases that BT professionals have built.

Learn more about the automations that BT professionals and lines of business are prioritizing by downloading our State of Business Technology.

Ready to Automate Your Procure-to-Pay Process?

You can use Workato, the only enterprise automation platform, to automate your procure-to-pay process with ease. To learn more about the platform, as well as how you can use it to streamline p2p, you can speak with one of our automation experts!

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