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    Procure-to-Pay System: The Process & 2024 Software List

    Procure-to-Pay System: The Process & Software List

    by ProcureDeskLast Updated : Jan-05-2024

    Procure-to-pay encompasses the activities of both the procurement department and the accounts payable team. It covers everything from sourcing and buying products to paying invoices and tracking budgets and spending.

    By connecting purchasing and payments, procure-to-pay systems eliminate challenges such as surprise invoices, going over budget, disorganized communications, wasted time, and more.

    At ProcureDesk, we created our end-to-end procure-to-pay solution to help small and midsize businesses:

    • Save time creating requisitions

    • Avoid spending hours sifting through purchase approvals

    • Eliminate the need for manual order and invoice processing

    • Monitor order status in a single place

    • Eliminate back-and-forth communications with staff and vendors

    • Track cash flow in real-time

    In this post, we’ll first talk about the six steps in the procure-to-pay cycle. Then, we’ll review popular procure-to-pay software so you can choose the solution that works best for your team. We kick off our software reviews with a look at our product, ProcureDesk, before moving on to other available options.

    To learn more about our end-to-end procure-to-pay solution, schedule a free demo with our team today.

    6 Key Steps in the Procure-to-Pay Process

    The procure-to-pay process can be easily understood when broken down into six steps. We’ll outline these steps here regarding what must be done in any procure-to-pay system. We’ll also highlight the challenges or bottlenecks of following this process manually and how a procure-to-pay software solution can automate those steps.

    Step 1: Employee shops for products & submits a purchase request

    When employees identify a procurement need, they shop for products by browsing on vendor websites. Once they identify the required product, they fill out and submit a purchase requisition (aka a purchase request) to the procurement team for approval.

    Some challenges with this step are that purchase requisitions can pile up and become disorganized; employees have to follow up with procurement teams multiple times to hear back on requests. As we’ll discuss below, procure-to-pay software can automate the creation of purchase requisitions, keep them organized in a single place, and even automate some of the approvals.

    Step 2: Procurement team reviews the request & approves orders

    In the traditional process, once the procurement team has reviewed and approved a request, they must manually create a purchase order (PO) and send it to the vendor. Procure-to-pay software can automatically create POs from purchase requests and send orders to vendors.

    Step 3: Order tracking & receipt

    Once an order is submitted, it can be helpful to monitor the order status. Procurement teams may want to know whether it has been received and approved by the vendor, the expected shipment date, tracking numbers, and more.

    After receiving the order, the recipient shares the receipt with the procurement team and checks the order to ensure accuracy and quality. They must then notify the procurement team of any issues with the order. If issues do occur, they must be addressed with the vendor.

    With a traditional approach, order tracking often requires back-and-forth phone calls and emails between the procurement team and vendor. Once the order has arrived, receipts can also get disorganized or misplaced.

    With our procure-to-pay software, order tracking is automated, allowing all team members to stay up to date on the order status. Order receipt is logged in ProcureDesk, making it easy to check or confirm receipt status.

    Step 4: Receive the invoice & cross-check with PO & receipt confirmation

    The vendor then generates and sends an invoice to the company. The accounting team receives the invoice and logs it into a spreadsheet. They must also find and match the invoice to the PO and order receipt before they can issue payment. If there are any discrepancies, they must be addressed before moving forward.

    Without procure-to-pay software, it can take a lot of time and effort for the AP team to track down and match receipts, invoices, and POs in order to approve an invoice. ProcureDesk offers three-way matching to automate the process and save time.

    Step 5: The accounts payable team issues payment

    Once the invoice is matched and approved, the AP team manually enters the invoice data and accounting codes into their accounting software. This is then routed to the right person for approval before payment is sent to the vendor. With procure-to-pay software, invoices can be automatically pushed to your accounting software or ERP to eliminate manual data entry. From there, the AP team can issue payment and update the invoice status in the P2P system.

    Challenges of Monitoring Spending

    A big challenge for most companies in the traditional procure-to-pay process is controlling upfront spending and monitoring spend. They simply set budgets and hope teams and employees adhere to spending limits. They only know whether teams are above or below budget after spending has taken place (when they tally monthly invoices).

    Without a central ordering system or real-time spend monitoring dashboard, it is easy for employees to place duplicate orders or make purchases that push spending above budget.

    Procure-to-pay software addresses this challenge by centralizing data in one reporting dashboard. All stakeholders can see current spending, monitor budgets, and stay up to date on order status.

    In the next section, we discuss in more detail how our own procure-to-pay software, ProcureDesk, can automate the process outlined above.

    ProcureDesk: Automating the Procure-to-Pay Process and Spend Controls

    ProcureDesk: How It Works - Everything You Need for Managing Your Purchase Orders and Invoices

    ProcureDesk is a procure-to-pay software solution with automation features to support both the purchasing process and AP workflows. Our software achieves this by providing a central hub that manages each step of the P2P cycle; it automates many of the manual steps discussed above, facilitates communication between key players, saves time, and improves spend control and visibility.

    With ProcureDesk, companies can:

    • Let employees place orders from vendor websites and send their shopping carts for approval instead of employees manually entering info into PR forms and emailing them to managers.

    • Automatically generate and send POs to vendors so employees don’t have to spend time manually filling in PO forms.

    • Give vendors access to the platform so they can provide real-time order status updates, and your users can see when orders have been received, processed, and shipped — without constant emails or phone calls.

    • Automatically reconcile POs, invoices, and receipts to streamline payments instead of manually searching for these documents in order to issue payment approval.

    • Set budgets, track spending, and control costs upfront instead of doing damage control if users exceed budget.

    Below, we’ll review some of the key ProcureDesk features.

    Purchasing Catalogs

    Within ProcureDesk, employees can shop for supplies on native vendor websites the way they normally would. Shopping and ordering require no learning curve for team members and no time spent sifting through unfamiliar catalogs.

    Supplier Catalogs

    Automated Purchase Requisition Creation

    Then, instead of copying over item numbers, descriptions, prices, and quantities to a spreadsheet or PDF purchase requisition form, employees can simply add items to their cart as they would on any e-commerce website and submit that shopping cart for approval. The cart gets sent directly to ProcureDesk.

    Inside ProcureDesk, the user is prompted to answer questions about their order in the purchase request form; this way, procurement teams can gather key details about orders to determine why they’re required and if they meet approval criteria.

    If the order falls within predetermined criteria and budget, it is approved automatically without manager input. If the order does not meet automatic approval criteria, it is sent to the right person(s) for review. They can then approve or deny the PR within the ProcureDesk dashboard, by email, or on their mobile device, reducing processing time.

    This automatic approval process avoids needing to manually fill out PR forms, which are emailed around to get approval and can get lost in communication or forgotten. Our pre-set approval and budget criteria capabilities help to control spending upfront while minimizing data entry and streamlining the PO approval process.

    Pending Approvals: Approver Dashboard

    Send POs & Track Order Status

    Once a purchase is approved, our platform automatically generates a PO and sends it to the vendor.

    After the vendor receives the order, they can easily update the order status in our system. For example, they can confirm they’ve received the order, accept or deny the order, and provide updates when it has been fulfilled and shipped.

    The procurement team can check the order status in ProcureDesk, removing the need for extra emails or calls with the supplier. Once the team has received the tracking number, members can conveniently add it to ProcureDesk so others can view the status.

    Supplier Catalogs: Purchase Order Dashboard

    Log Receipt and Track Order Details

    Once the order arrives, the receiver notes the arrival date, verifies order accuracy and quality, and updates ProcureDesk with the receipt details. If the order has issues such as damaged or missing items, this information can easily be logged in ProcureDesk as well.

    All procurement team members can easily check to see if an order has been received and, if so, its status.

    If a user forgets to add receipt and purchase confirmation details to ProcureDesk, we’ll send an email reminder. This prevents the procurement or AP teams from having to track down the purchaser to verify invoices. Less back-and-forth communication saves time.

    Need Inputs email: Receipt Confirmation Email

    Three-Way Matching Matching Supports Invoice Approval Workflows

    Next, the accounting team receives the invoice from the vendor. Many procure-to-pay software solutions provide two-way matching of invoices and POs. However, this still leaves out the goods receipt, leaving it up to the procurement team to track and confirm orders with manual processes.

    ProcureDesk optimizes the invoice approval and vendor payment process with three-way matching of POs, invoices, and receipts. Our platform uses optical character recognition (OCR) to extract data from these documents and accurately match them by PO/invoice number. This reduces human error and inefficiencies and saves the accounts payable department or finance team valuable time.

    Once the system matches the invoice, order receipt, and PO, the AP team can easily see which invoices are ready for payment. If an invoice needs further attention before approval, AP teams can view related notes and information within ProcureDesk before contacting the vendor instead of tracking down the person who made the purchase or received the goods.

    The system then analyzes the invoice and adds appropriate accounting codes before automatically routing it to the appropriate person(s) in charge of approving invoice payments.

    3-way match invoicing
    Read more: The Invoice Approval Workflow (& How to Automate Processes)

    ProcureDesk integrates with many ERP and accounting software solutions, such as QuickBooks, NetSuite, Sage, Bill, and Dynamics 365. Once POs, invoices, and receipts have been reconciled, invoices can be pushed to your accounting system in order to issue payment.

    Once the invoice is paid, AP teams can update ProcureDesk to keep team members up-to-date and avoid duplicate payments. Everyone can track the real-time status of invoices within ProcureDesk.

    Reporting Dashboard

    In the absence of procure-to-pay software, procurement and AP teams typically do not have a central dashboard to track POs, receipts, invoices, and payments in real-time. For example, when someone sends a PO to a vendor, the order may not be immediately visible to other team members. Another team member could then easily make a duplicate order.

    With ProcureDesk, all POs are visible to team members within our central dashboard. You can easily track, analyze, and optimize budgets in real-time. Our software allows you to set budgets for different teams and departments in order to have greater cost control and simplify decision-making. Once an order has been placed, it automatically updates the appropriate budget.

    The dashboard allows you to see how much of a budget has been used, as well as spending by category, user, team, and timeframe. This helps you to identify spending patterns, manage supplier relationships, and cut costs. For example, if you notice that most of your orders are from one vendor, you may be able to renegotiate your contracts in order to win more favorable terms and increase your bottom line.

    Spend Dashboard

    White Glove Service

    We provide white-glove service to help with onboarding and assist your team as you get set up on our platform. We can help you with:

    • Familiarizing your teams with the software
    • Adding users
    • Setting budgets and automatic PO approval criteria
    • Building approval trees for departments
    • Connecting with your trusted vendors
    • Integrating with your current accounting software or ERP

    Once you’re up and running, we’re here to help with any future changes you may need to implement.

    Book a free demo of ProcureDesk to speak with a team member and learn more about our end-to-end procure-to-pay solution.

    5 Alternative Procure-to-Pay Systems: 2024 Software List

    Below, we discuss other highly-rated procure-to-pay solutions, so you can compare other options. These include:

    Procurify

    Procurify homepage: Intelligent Spend Management

    Procurify is an end-to-end spend management and procure-to-pay solution backed by hundreds of features. Typically, Procurify works well with larger companies. It offers real-time budget tracking, accounting software integrations, and punchout catalogs.

    Procurify users like the dashboard’s clear organization and visually elegant design. However, many users complain that it can be challenging and require too much training, making it difficult to implement for distributed teams. While it has many features, some claim that many only provide basic functionality. Procurify is also more pricey than many other P2P software solutions.

    Notable Features

    • Vendor management
    • Contract management
    • Mobile apps
    • Approval workflows
    • PO management
    • Invoice processing
    • Budget control
    • Spend reporting
    • Bill management
    • Payments
    • PR management
    • Virtual spend cards
    • Integrations with ERPs (QuickBooks, NetSuite, Sage, Dynamics 365)

    Pricing

    Plans start at $1000 per month for less than 100 employees and $2000 per month for up to 299 employees. Businesses with more than 299 users need to inquire about custom pricing.

    Read more: Best Procurify Alternatives: 2024 Buyer’s Guide

    Planergy

    Planergy homepage: Spend Management Simplified Accounts Payable Evolved

    Planergy is an accounts payable and procurement software that serves established and growing businesses. It includes integrations with vendor catalogs and catalog management, automated invoice matching and approval routing, and real-time spend visibility (to see who ordered what and when).

    Some users liked the intuitive user interface, while others had trouble monitoring complex or high-volume purchases.

    Notable Features

    • Purchase requests
    • Workflow approvals
    • Budget & spend management
    • Purchase order tracking
    • AI invoice processing & matching
    • Real-time spend visibility
    • Integrations with major ERP & accounting software
    • Warehouse management

    Pricing

    While they offer a free trial, Planergy does not provide specific pricing information. Contact them directly to get a quote.

    Order.co

    Order.co homepage: Simplify Purchasing, Payments, Budgets, and Approvals For Your Business

    Order.co is a procure-to-pay system designed for small businesses that primarily shop on e-commerce sites. It allows procurement team members to create custom catalogs by going through different approved vendor sites and adding products. Then, employees can create a cart from your custom catalog (with products from multiple vendors). They also offer virtual credit card features.

    When it’s time to check out, Order.co provides a consolidated bill payment feature. Once an order is approved, payment is sent to all involved vendors instead of paying each vendor separately.

    Users generally approve of Order.co’s customer service, intuitive layout, and ease of sourcing goods. However, it may not be the best solution for larger procurement teams that work with many vendors.

    Notable Features

    • Virtual credit cards
    • Bill consolidation & automatic vendor payments
    • Reporting tools
    • Integrations with accounting software
    • Purchasing management for order approval
    • Custom carts — build carts with products from multiple vendors

    Pricing

    Pricing information is not publicly available. Request a demo to learn more.

    Spendflo

    Spendflo homepage: Understand and optimize your spends.

    Spendflo is a procurement management software for fast-growing companies. In contrast to other solutions on this list, Spendflo does not manage the procurement of physical products — it allows you to gain visibility into your company’s spend on SaaS products.

    Users can buy or renew SaaS memberships and manage licenses within Spendflo. The platform allows teams to monitor contracts and identify overlaps or misuse. Users can then leverage this information to end or renegotiate contracts with SaaS suppliers.

    The Spendflo team also offers expertise when planning or negotiating SaaS contracts, helping you reduce costs during the procurement cycle.

    Notable Features

    • Vendor management
    • Contract management
    • Dashboards and visualization
    • SaaS utilization tracking
    • Peer benchmarking
    • Assisted Buying
    • Third-party risk assessment
    • Vendor Intelligence

    Pricing

    Spendflo advertises their services for $2500–7000 per month, depending on your company’s specific needs.

    Coupa

    Coupa homepage: Get the most value from your spend

    Coupa features full procure-to-pay automation features for enterprise-sized organizations. Notable clients include Unilever, Airbus, Salesforce, Uber, and more.

    Like ProcureDesk, users can shop supplier catalogs using a punchout system, build purchase requests, and send them to managers for approval. It also provides larger companies with invoice matching, accounting software integrations, and advanced cost control capabilities.

    However, Coupa also provides teams with tools to drive growth, including cash and liquidity management, cash sourcing, third-party risk management, and supply chain management.

    Users report liking Coupa’s security systems and billing features, as well as the easy user interface and functionality. Others reported difficulty with customer support, implementation, and supplier integrations.

    Notable Features

    • Contract management
    • ERP integrations
    • Purchase order software
    • PO collaboration tools
    • Budgeting tools
    • Open Buy
    • Purchase requisition
    • AP automation (with two- and three-way invoice matching)
    • SOW-based spend management
    • Purchasing fraud detection with spend guard
    • Inventory management
    • Supplier management
    • Mobile apps
    • Reporting

    Pricing

    Pricing for Coupa is not available. Customers must contact the company directly for a quote.

    Getting Started

    ProcureDesk supports the P2P process by allowing you to:

    • Simplify the ordering process: Team members can shop vendor sites at their convenience, add items to create a cart, and instantly send the cart to the procurement team. Procurement teams can set rules to automatically approve requests (and approval routing flows for orders that don’t meet automatic approval criteria).

    • Monitor order status and automate receipts: Easily monitor order status and purchase confirmations from the ProcureDesk dashboard. Order details and status are displayed for all team members to keep everyone on the same page.

    • Verify invoices, POs, and receipts with three-way matching: Our automatic three-way matching supports accounts payable processes and saves time reconciling and approving invoices. Once an invoice is approved, you can push it to your accounting or ERP system to speed up processing and payment times.

    • Monitor, analyze, and track budgets and expenses: Our reporting dashboard allows you to set procurement budgets, track real-time spending, identify spending patterns, implement cost savings, and avoid exceeding budget. Having one place to monitor POs and invoices provides clarity throughout the purchase-to-pay business process.
    Schedule a free demo with our team to learn more about how ProcureDesk supports purchase-to-pay workflows.

    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.
    4. If you know another professional who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter.
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