With increasing competitive pressure, most organizations are focusing on improving working capital to drive growth which will, in turn, support the company’s efforts in creating a competitive advantage. However, the speed and success of a business transformation often depend on cash availability; working capital may be tied up in traditional manual procurement processes. Automating the purchase-to-pay process using an online platform provides the visibility and control businesses need over cash flow in order to overcome the changes in today’s business environment. The web-based system with automated accounts payable, procurement and payments capabilities makes access to financial services much simpler for buyers and suppliers.

In this article, we present a few key components that you need to consider when selecting a procure-to-pay solution.

Online Procurement:

Online procurement facilitates the purchase of goods and services through approved sources using an online shopping cart. A sophisticated online procurement system provides buyers with a consumer-style shopping experience, with one-click catalog purchasing for goods and services across industries using only the preferred suppliers and prices negotiated by procurement. Online catalogs can be configured to display certain options to users and offer self-service suppliers management tools. The system also includes a digital request for the quotes functionality that allows you to request quotes if the product or service is not available in the system.

The solution includes components for supplier activation, configurable requisition and purchase order workflows, access via mobile device, and spend and procurement analytics with data visualization for cross-enterprise spending, budgeting, and more. The integrated system pulls necessary information from accounts payable and the system automatically maps it to purchasing categories. This category-level data enables businesses to easily find where it spends the most, and who the key suppliers are in each category. This enables procurement to consolidate vendors, leverage volume buying opportunities, and negotiate favorable pricing. Online procurement system makes it easy to drill-down from a high-level global spending overview to a more detailed view of your business spending and filter the information by company, department, category, or even by location. Having this data available at your fingertips empowers you to make the required changes to uncover new sources of working capital and be wiser about how your money is being spent.

AP Automation:

An e-procurement system automates key invoice processing capabilities such as invoice validation, matching of invoices to POs, approvals, notifications, and dispute management. The scan and capture functionality offered by the software eliminates paper invoices. It also provides accurate forecasting to manage working capital and cash flow, and the ability for users to review and approve invoices on a mobile device designed to meet the rapidly growing needs of an on-the-go workforce.

Electronic Invoicing:

The electronic invoicing accelerates invoice cycle times to avoid late payment. The e-invoicing ability of an online procurement system enables buyers and suppliers to trade, communicate, and collaborate with each other through an open platform. Buyers can receive invoices in any format, via any channel, ensure that invoices are received by the proper individual, and record that the invoices have been received. The solution also enables suppliers to instantly convert electronic POs into invoices. E-invoicing process eliminates indirect purchases, allowing staff to focus on value-added reporting and analysis. It also automates activities such as seller enablement, invoice and payment inquiries, and invoice dispute resolution. The e-invoicing capabilities of a procurement system can be easily integrated with any financial management systems, eliminating the need to enter data on approved invoices, and providing a 360-degree view of invoice data.

Online Purchase Orders:

The system facilitates the electronic exchange of purchase orders, confirmations, and changes to orders between buyers and suppliers. An online portal enables suppliers to quickly convert PO orders received through the network system into electronic invoices. A robust electronic ordering system easily integrates with any procure-to-pay, digitally converting purchased orders into the required format, and automating the routing of POs based on pre-defined business rules. All of this improves visibility into purchased orders and collaboration on orders between various stakeholders.

Electronic Payments and Discounts:

The best-in-class networked P2P solutions facilitate electronic payments, making it easy to view how and when approved invoices are paid. Cloud-based solutions simplify supplier reconciliation with rich remittance information and help buyers to extend payment terms to optimize their cash position. The simple and efficient payment processes offered by the solution enables buyers to pay suppliers promptly to avoid late payments. Also, the system improves control and visibility over the cash flow allowing buyers to save money by paying invoices earlier.

All these components help ensure the success of a procure-to-pay initiative by providing end-to-end automation and collaboration across the entire purchasing cycle, from requisition to approvals, to payments. Organizations that take a networked approach to the procure-to-pay process can optimize working capital, free up cash within the business, and uncover profits. The end-to-end visibility and control provided by a web-based system also enables businesses to be more efficient, giving control to both ends of the transaction with constant peace of mind through this effortless process.

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