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A Comprehensive Guide to Procure-To-Pay Automation

  • By ProcureDesk
  • November 02,2023
  • 10 min read

A Comprehensive Guide to Procure-To-Pay Automation

Procure-To-Pay Automation

Are you tired of grappling with the relentless challenges of manual, error-prone processes within your company’s procure-to-pay (P2P) cycle?

As a CFO, accountant, or even a finance officer, this pain point seems too familiar.

But here’s the good news- there’s a solution that can revolutionize your company’s finance, procurement operations, and business procedures. The secret? Procure-To-Pay Automation.

In this blog, we’ll dive head-on into how procure-to-pay automation can be a game-changer for your business. We’ll discuss the benefits of embracing digital transformation for your business, identify key processes you can streamline with automation, and even highlight the wide range of features you should look for in P2P automation software.

Let’s dive in!

If you’re looking for a cloud-based solution to help you with your company’s procure-to-pay automation, you might want to explore the benefits and features of our tool ProcureDesk. We have a team of experts who can walk you through how our tool works. Click here to see it in action

What Is Procure-To-Pay Automation?

procure-to-pay automation

Procure-to-pay (P2P) automation is a company process where your business uses software to streamline and automate your entire procurement process and accounts payable operations, from creating purchase requisitions to paying suppliers.

This can include tasks such as:

  • Requisition creation and approval
  • Supplier selection and negotiation
  • Purchase order creation and transmission
  • Invoice receipt and processing
  • Payment execution

It’s no surprise that P2P automation can help your business reduce costs by eliminating manual processes and even streamlining your company processes.

Aside from that, procure-to-pay automation can also:

  • Improve efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and providing real-time visibility into the procurement process
  • Reduce errors by automating data entry and validation
  • Improve compliance by ensuring all purchase orders and invoices comply with company policies and procedures.
  • Strengthen supplier relationship management by automating communication and collaboration.

The P2P cycle can be implemented using a variety of software solutions, including cloud-based applications, on-premises software, and hybrid solutions.

The best solution for your business will depend on your company’s specific needs and requirements.

What Is A Procure-To-Pay Automation Software?

procure-to-pay automation

Procure-to-pay automation software is a powerful tool designed to help you streamline and automate your company’s end-to-end procurement process and accounts payable operations.

It brings together all the activities involved in procurement, starting from the initial purchase request to the final payment to the supplier.

By integrating and automating these processes, it creates a seamless and efficient current P2P workflow for your business.

Procure-to-pay automation software is essential for modern businesses as it offers many benefits, such as:

  • Enhanced Compliance: The software ensures that all procurement activities adhere to internal policies and external regulations, minimizing the risk of non-compliance.
  • Faster Approval Cycles: Automating the entire procurement process accelerates the review and approval of purchase requisitions, purchase orders, and invoices. This reduces processing time and costs, as manual tasks are eliminated, and errors are minimized.
  • Greater Visibility And Control Over Spend:  A procure-to-pay automation allows your business to track and analyze your procurement activities, identify areas for improvement, and leverage payment cash discounts. This ultimately leads to cost savings and improved cash flow for you.

What Is A Procure-To-Pay Automation Strategy?

procure-to-pay automation

A procure-to-pay (P2P) strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines how your organization will manage its procurement process from start to finish. This includes everything from identifying and sourcing goods and services to paying suppliers.

A procure-to-pay business strategy plays a critical role in the overall procurement process of your organization.

It encompasses the steps involved in sourcing and purchasing goods and services, which begins with identifying a need and ends with paying your suppliers.

A well-defined P2P cycle strategy can help your businesses achieve several objectives, including the following:

Reducing Reliance On Manual Process

This results in increased efficiency and productivity. By automating repetitive tasks such as data entry and invoice processing,  your procurement and finance teams can focus on more value-added activities.

This automation also minimizes the likelihood of human errors, ensuring accuracy in financial records and reducing the risk of non-compliance.

Delivering Substantial Cost Savings On Your Organization

A robust procure-to-pay strategy can deliver substantial cost savings for your organization.

Through optimized procurement solutions, your businesses can negotiate better cash discounts, identify preferred suppliers, and leverage economies of scale.

Additionally, by streamlining the entire procure-to-pay process, your organization can enhance cash flow management and identify potential bottlenecks, thereby improving the overall financial health.

What Are The Key Components Of A Procure-To-Pay Automation Strategy?

A well-defined procure-to-pay strategy is vital for your organization to streamline your P2P solution, reduce manual tasks and human errors, and achieve substantial cost savings.

By implementing intelligent automation solutions and focusing on key components such as supplier management and contract management, your businesses can enhance their overall financial performance and drive operational efficiency.

Key components of a procure-to-pay strategy include:

  • Effective supplier management
  • Contract Compliance
  • Timely Payments.

These elements ensure that your organization has a strong relationship with your suppliers, adheres to internal policies and external regulations, and makes payments promptly.

Implementing intelligent automation solutions, such as procurement tools, optical character recognition, and process automation tools, can also significantly enhance the effectiveness of your procure-to-pay strategy.

What Is The Procure-To-Pay Automation Process?

procure-to-pay automation

The procure-to-pay (P2P) process is the complete cycle of activities involved in acquiring goods and services from external suppliers.

It starts with identifying a need for goods or services and ends with the payment of suppliers. The entire P2P process typically includes several steps:

  • Identify needs: The first step is to identify and define the business requirements for the goods or services to be procured. This may involve input from stakeholders from different departments, such as sales, marketing, and business procedures.
  • Create requisitions: Once the needs have been identified, a formal purchase requisition is created. This document outlines the specific goods or services to be procured, as well as the required quantities and delivery dates.
  • Purchase Requisition Approval: The purchase requisition is reviewed and approved by the appropriate stakeholders, such as department heads or procurement managers.
  • Create a purchase order: Once the purchase requisition has been approved, a purchase order is created and sent to the supplier. The purchase order is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of the purchase, such as the price, quantity, and delivery date.
  • Goods receipt: When the goods or services are received, the receiving department inspects them to ensure they meet the specifications outlined in the purchase order. Any discrepancies are documented and communicated to the supplier.
  • Supplier performance: The procurement department monitors and evaluates current performance of suppliers throughout the P2P process. This includes on-time delivery, quality of goods and services, and responsiveness to customer needs.
  • Invoice approval: Once the goods or services have been received and accepted, the supplier sends an invoice to the accounts payable department. The invoice is reviewed and approved for payment.
  • Vendor payment: The accounts payable department pays the supplier according to the terms of the purchase order.

How Do you Automate A Procure-To-Pay Process?

procure-to-pay automation

There are several ways to automate the procure-to-pay (P2P) process. Some common methods include:

  • Using procurement software: Procurement software can help automate many of the tasks involved in the P2P process, such as creating purchase requisitions and purchase orders, tracking the current performance of suppliers, and approving invoices.
  • Using electronic data interchange (EDI): EDI is a system that allows your business to exchange electronic documents with your suppliers. This can help to automate the P2P process by eliminating the need for manual data entry.
  • Using robotic process automation (RPA): RPA is software that can automate repetitive tasks. This can help automate tasks in the P2P process, such as processing invoices and making payments.

When you automate the P2P process, you must consider the specific needs of your business carefully. You may need to automate only a few tasks, or you might decide you want to automate your entire process.

In addition, you need to ensure that your automation solution is compatible with the existing IT system within your business.

Here are things you need to keep in mind when automating your P2P process:

  • Start by identifying the tasks that are most time-consuming and error-prone. These are the tasks that should be automated first.
  • Choose automation solutions that are compatible with your existing IT systems.
  • Implement the automation solutions gradually and monitor the results carefully.
  • Train your employees on how to use the new automation systems.

Procure-To-Pay Automation With ProcureDesk

Our tool ProcureDesk, has strong features and capabilities to help you with your company’s procure-to-pay automation. Here are our tool’s top features:

  • Purchase Requisition: Employees can easily create, track, and receive notifications about their purchase requests, simplifying the purchase order approval process and allowing for cost-saving consolidation.
  • Punchout Catalogs: Simplifies your purchasing process as you work with major retailers/ Aside from that, this also helps you streamline the requisition process and the process with your various vendors.
  • Self-Created Catalogs: Users can create catalogs for vendors without punchout options, making it easy for employees to select commonly purchased items for requisitions. This makes your catalog maintenance simpler and easier to manage.
  • Budgets: Provides a mechanism to control costs and spending by allowing budget setup by department, project, or cost center.
  • Project-Based Budgets: Offers granular budget controls for tracking expenses related to different project activities.
  • Approval Workflow: Set up approval payable processes based on purchasing policies and route requests to appropriate approvers for policy compliance.
  • Omnichannel Approval: Allows approval via email, mobile app, or web app, making the process convenient and efficient for managers.
  • Purchase Order: Converts approved requisitions into purchase orders with terms, details, and delivery information.
  • Purchase Order Acknowledgment: Ensures vendors acknowledge orders for better supply chain management and issue resolution.
  • Order Tracking: Enables employees to track the shipment status of products.
  • Receipts: Simplifies the confirmation of product deliveries with the option to create partial or full receipts.
  • Dashboard and Reports: Provides a management dashboard for cash flow visibility and access to over 30 different reports for comprehensive data analysis. This makes it easier for you to monitor the important key performance indicators for your business/
  • Strong Access Control: Allows administrators to set up roles and permissions to control user access and prevent invoice fraud tightly.
  • Real-Time Seamless Integration: Integrates seamlessly with various accounting packages in real-time, automating data synchronization and reducing manual effort.


If you want to learn more about ProcureDesk’s ability to help you with your procure-to-pay automation, we have a team of experts who can walk you through how this works. Click here to see it in action


What Are The Benefits Of Procure-To-Pay Automation?

procure-to-pay automation

Procure-to-pay (P2P) automation has rapidly gained popularity in recent years due to its ability to streamline the procurement process and enhance overall efficiency.

Did you know that by automating your entire P2P workflow, your organization can reduce invoice processing costs by up to 80%? Aside from that, you can also finally eliminate the need for your manual tasks and even reduce the human errors associated with traditional paper-based processes.

Let’s discuss some of the significant benefits of P2P automation:

Enhanced Visibility

One of the significant benefits of P2P automation is the enhanced visibility it provides throughout the supply chain.

By digitizing and centralizing data, your organization gains complete visibility into your procurement process workflows, allowing you to track and monitor every process stage.

This increased visibility enables better decision-making, as your organization can access real-time data and analytics to identify bottlenecks, improve efficiencies, and optimize cash flow.

Improve Supplier Relationships

P2P automation also plays a pivotal role in improving your supplier relationships.

With automated processes, your organization can ensure timely payments, reducing the risk of late payment fees and maintaining positive relationships with suppliers.

Additionally, automation allows for capturing crucial supplier data, such as transaction history and current performance metrics, enabling your organization to make informed decisions when selecting preferred suppliers.

Enhances Data Capture Capabilities

By leveraging technologies like optical character recognition (OCR), your organization can accurately extract data from invoices and documents, reducing the chances of manual errors coming from time-consuming tasks and even improving data accuracy.

This data capture feature enables your organization to gain actionable insights, identify cost savings opportunities, and ensure compliance with internal policies and regulations.

Reduces Potential For Invoice Fraud And Errors

P2P automation incorporates controls and audit trails that reduce the risk of invoice fraud.  This ensures that transactions are secure and accurate.

Gain Insights Into Your Business Operations

P2P automation systems collect and analyze data related to procurement, allowing your organization to gain detailed insights into their spending patterns, current performance of suppliers, and overall procurement efficiency.

These insights are invaluable for informed decision-making.

Improved Compliance

P2P automation enforces compliance with procurement policies and regulations.

It ensures that every purchase follows the established guidelines, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.

Consolidate Commerce Processes

P2P automation centralizes and streamlines procurement processes, reducing fragmentation and inefficiencies.

By consolidating these processes, organizations can eliminate redundancy and optimize their operations.

Accurate Supply Forecast

P2P automation provides valuable data for demand forecasting.

With accurate insights into procurement trends, your organization can better plan and anticipate its supply needs, avoiding stockouts and overstocking.

Increased Productivity

By automating repetitive tasks and streamlining your procurement process, P2P automation can help you enhance the productivity of your procurement teams.

This means that your employees can accomplish more in less time!

Faster Approvals

P2P automation can help you speed up your approval process by automating common workflows and notifications. This ensures that your purchase requests are approved more quickly, reducing delays in your procurement.

What Key P2P Processes Can Be Automated With P2P Software?

Did you know that different procure-to-pay processes can be automated?

Here’s a list of some of the most important payable processes that you can boost through the power of P2P automation:

Streamlining Purchase Requisitions

A procurement software can help you streamline creating, submitting, and approving purchase requisitions.

It can eliminate the need for manual data entry, which can save time and reduce errors.

Additionally, a P2P Automation Solution can help you ensure that your purchase requisitions are routed to the appropriate approvers promptly.

Simplifying The Vendor Selection Process

Automated vendor selection software can help your business simplify finding and selecting qualified suppliers.

With this automation, you can create and manage a vendor database, track supplier performance, and automate your vendor selection within your business process.

Automating Purchase Order Workflows

An automated accounting software can help your business automate creating, approving, and sending purchase orders.

It can also be used to track the status of purchase orders and to generate reports. This can help your business to streamline the procurement process and to improve efficiency.

Improved Invoice Approvals And Processing

An automated accounting software can help your business improve the efficiency and accuracy of your invoice approval and processing processes.

It can automate tasks such as data entry, routing, and approval management. This can free up employees to focus on more strategic tasks, and it can help to reduce errors.

Processing Payments

Automated payment processing software can help your business automate making payments to suppliers.

It can be used to create and manage payment schedules, to generate electronic payments, and to reconcile payments. Thus helping you save time and money and even improve your efficiency.

Related: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Procurement Software Integration

What Features Do You Need Your Purchase-To-Pay Automation Tool To Provide?

procure-to-pay automation

To effectively manage your Procure-to-Pay (P2P) process, you’ll want your procurement tool to provide the following key features to help you achieve your procurement goals:

  • Automated Reminders: Automated notifications and reminders to keep stakeholders informed and ensure tasks are completed on time.
  • Spend Analytics: Tools for analyzing and reporting spending patterns to make informed decisions and optimize procurement. This P2P Automation Software feature helps you acquire important data to make it easier to make better business decisions.
  • Rule-Based Configurable Workflow: An automation platform should have configurable workflows that follow predefined rules and routing based on your organization’s procurement policies.
  • Centralized Storage: A centralized repository for storing all procurement-related documents, making them easily accessible and organized. With a procurement management solution like this, no doubt it becomes easier to access vital data to help you make better business decisions.
  • Transparent Process: Visibility into the entire procurement process, from requisition to payment, for increased transparency and accountability.
  • Visual User Interface: An intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies navigation and reduces the learning curve for users.
  • Workflow Templates: Pre-built templates for common procurement processes to accelerate workflow setup. This helps you improve your current P2P workflow.
  • Customizable Forms: Ability to customize forms and fields to capture the specific information needed for each procurement request.
  • Automation: The automation of routine and repetitive tasks to reduce manual work and enhance efficiency.
  • Rules and Conditionals: The ability to define rules and conditions for various procurement activities, such as approvals, budget allocation, and supplier selection.
  • Reports and Dashboards: Robust reporting and dashboard features to provide insights into spending, compliance, and performance metrics.

Related: Procurement Spend Analytics: The Path To Smarter Savings

These features collectively contribute to a streamlined, efficient, and controlled P2P process, reducing errors, improving compliance, and enabling data-driven decision-making.

What Are The Stages Of Procure-To-Pay Cycle?

procure-to-pay automation

The Procure-to-Pay (P2P) cycle consists of several key stages, each of which plays a vital role in the procurement and payment process.

Automation can significantly optimize and streamline these stages. Here’s a breakdown of the stages and how automation can benefit each:

Stage 1: Purchase Request

Automation streamlines the creation and submission of purchase requests, reducing the need for manual paperwork and enabling employees to submit requests digitally.

Stage 2: Purchase Order

Automation Streamlining: Automation facilitates the generation of purchase orders based on approved requisitions, ensuring accuracy and consistency in the ordering process.

Stage 3: Delivery & Shipping Receipt

Automated systems optimize the receipt and tracking of deliveries, providing real-time visibility into shipment status and receipt confirmation.

Stage 4: Invoice Processing & 3-Way Matching

Automation plays a crucial role in the processing and providing accurate invoices. It automates data extraction, assists in invoice matching with corresponding purchase orders and receipts, and identifies discrepancies for resolution.

Stage 5: Invoice Approvals

Automation streamlines the invoice approval workflow, routing accurate invoices to the appropriate stakeholders for review and approval. It sends automated notifications, reducing delays in the approval process.

Stage 6: Supplier Payment

Automation facilitates various payment methods, such as electronic funds transfers and check issuance. It helps automate payment scheduling, making supplier payments more efficient and accurate.

By automating these stages of the P2P cycle, your organization can reduce manual work, minimize errors, improve compliance, and gain better control over the procurement and payment process.

This leads to cost savings, faster processing times, and enhanced supplier relationships.

Related: Procurement Automation For Your Business Success


What Is Procure To Pay Technology?

Procure-to-pay (P2P) technology is a digital solution that streamlines and automates the entire procurement process.

This includes creating purchase requisitions, selecting and negotiating with suppliers, creating and sending purchase orders, receiving and processing invoices, and making payments.

By automating these tasks, P2P technology can help your business reduce costs, improve efficiency, reduce errors, and improve compliance.

Why Take The Procure-To-Pay Cycle Digital?

Here are some of the benefits of taking your procure-to-pay cycle digital:

  • Reduced costs: P2P technology can help businesses reduce costs by eliminating manual tasks, streamlining processes, and improving visibility into spending.
  • Improved efficiency: P2P technology can help businesses improve efficiency by automating repetitive tasks and providing real-time visibility into the procurement process. This can free up employees to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Reduced errors: P2P technology can help businesses reduce errors by automating data entry and validation. This can help to improve the accuracy of purchase orders, invoices, and payments.
  • Improved compliance: P2P technology can help businesses improve compliance by ensuring that all purchase orders and invoices comply with company policies and procedures. This can help to reduce the risk of invoice fraud and errors.

How Can P2P Automation Be Used In Different Industries?

Here are some examples of how P2P automation can be used in different industries:

  • Manufacturing: A manufacturing company can use P2P automation to automate the ordering of raw materials and supplies from suppliers. This can help to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ensure that the company always has the materials it needs on hand.
  • Retail: A retail company can use P2P automation to automate ordering merchandise from suppliers. This can help to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ensure that the company always has the products it needs in stock.
  • Healthcare: A healthcare organization can use P2P automation to automate the ordering of medical supplies and equipment from suppliers. This can help to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ensure that the organization always has the supplies it needs to provide patient care.

Note that even if you have complex business services, P2P automation can help you streamline your operations, which can help you boost your bottom line.

The Bottomline

In today’s fast-paced business world, where precision is crucial, there is no doubt that P2P automation is changing the game of how your payable teams navigate procurement.

It not only allows your organization to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics but also helps you maintain a strong supplier relationship and even optimize your resource allocation.

Start embracing P2P automation along with your payable teams and see how it can allow your business to focus on what truly matters- innovation and growth.

What you should do now

Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you scale your purchasing and Accounts payable process.

  1. Claim your Free Strategy Session. If you’d like to work with us to implement a process to control spending, and spend less time matching invoices, claim your Free Strategy Session. One of our process experts will understand your current purchasing situation and then suggest practical strategies to reduce the purchase order approval cycle.
  2. If you’d like to know the maturity of your purchasing process, download our purchasing process grader and identify exactly what you should be working on next to improve your purchasing and AP process.
  3. If you’d like to enhance your knowledge about the purchasing process, check out our blog or Resources section.
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