Quick Links

9 Ways To Increase Procurement And Finance Collaboration [Complete Guide]

  • By ProcureDesk
  • January 06,2019
  • 10 min read

9 Ways To Increase Procurement And Finance Collaboration [Complete Guide]

procurement finance collaboration

In many companies, procurement and finance often work separately, each with its own goals. But it’s important to understand their vital roles in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process. Without proper teamwork between them, your business might miss important opportunities.

Today, businesses are realizing the benefits of closer collaboration between procurement and finance. That’s why, in this blog, we’ll explore how bringing these teams together can do more than just save money.

We’ll outline four simple strategies to help you blend procurement and finance smoothly, unlocking significant value in the P2P process.

Let’s get started!

Why The Need For Procurement And Finance Collaboration?

Procurement has been a mature function in larger companies and these companies understand the value proposition and procurement is treated as a value-added partner.

But what if, your procurement team has no or limited collaboration with the finance team?

What if you are working hard on finding savings but the budget owners don’t care because they are not incentivized to save but to meet the budget numbers?

What if procurement is not involved in the financial planning process and that leads to very tactical involvement with the business?

What if procurement is viewed as a cost function and not a source of great value?

What if you are starting a procurement organization within a company, where the current focus is just ensuring that Purchase orders are processed on time?

If you are facing these challenges, you are not alone.

As per the 2018 Deloitte CPO survey, 6% of respondents assess their effectiveness to be poor. And 70% assess their performance as fair but the majority of them are still striving for excellent performance where procurement is regarded as a value-add partner.

Procurement challenges in 2019

The survey results are from 504 respondents across 39 countries. The revenue size of these companies are as follows


The point to notice is that 70% of the respondent companies have revenue of more than $1bn, where you would expect procurement maturity to be high.

But they are still struggling with engagement and being engaged at the right levels with the business.

We are not presenting these numbers to scare the reader but to make a point that the problem is widespread. The good news is that procurement teams across the globe are working on improving their collaboration with finance and business in general.

9 Ways To Increase Procurement And Finance Collaboration

1. Understand Your CFO persona’s

You must understand the CFO persona because that would help you in proactively understanding their priorities.

What do I mean by CFO personas?

As per a Mckinsey study, there are four types of CFO profiles which are mostly found across different industries

The Finance Expert

As the name suggests, this CFO persona is heavily finance-focused. What that means is that they come from a strong finance background and have spent their career in managing functions like treasury, audit, etc. Some of them could have advanced finance degrees or a public accounting background.

Needless to say, they have a strong focus on process and compliance and are very well suited for organizations who are trying to set up a role of finance or operationalize in terms of compliance and processes.

They are well suited for stand-alone business units or startups.

The Generalist

Generalist CFOs are operations-focused. Their careers not only include the finance team but they have often spent time in different operations departments like marketing, general management, etc.

It is not uncommon to see that these CFOs are MBAs or have a combination of accounting and finance degrees.

They have a strong focus on company strategy which is backed by strong domain expertise, industry knowledge, and competitive information.

They are well suited for a capital-intensive business like telecommunication, oil and gas, etc where strong operational experience is required.

The Performance Leader

These CFOs have strong experience in playing transformation roles across their careers.

That means they have experience in transforming businesses and transforming different teams that they have managed in their tenure.

They are highly analytical and are dependent on metrics and dashboards for decision-making. They are highly focused on optimizing any function they look into. For example procurement or finance.

They are strongly focused on cost reduction and optimizing performance through performance improvements and investments in technology.

These types of CFOs are well suited for diverse companies that have businesses across different geographies.

The Growth Champion

The growth champion is focused on the growth of the company. That could come via Mergers and acquisitions or strategic divestitures which can unlock the value of the company.

They are generally externally hired and they are brought on to transform the business. That makes sense because they bring along their diverse experience across different companies.

They are well suited for companies that often are cyclic and are being constantly disrupted by changes in environment or competition.

2. Working With Your CFO and CFO’s Team

A good question at this time is how do I know by CFO persona?

Just keep this in mind, that every CFO persona would be a mix of each of the personas we mentioned above. You would always have a dominant persona which is of course driven by the CFO background.

For example, a growth champion is generally focused on M&A activities, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about compliance.

There are a couple of ways you can do that.

a) Setup A 1-1 With The CFO

If you are working in a small or mid-market company, it might be easier to schedule time with your CFO. if you are working in a large company, it might be easier to adopt the next strategy.

What should be your request?

Something along the lines of …

“I’m trying to better understand finance team priorities so that we can better align procurement and finance goals. I would like to understand your top 3 goals for this year or next year so that I can evaluate how procurement can better serve the organization”

The reason you focus on the top 3 goals is because 3 is more than enough to showcase the value of the organization 🙂

If the CFO has already published the goals which are accessible to everyone, then go with specific questions about those goals. Do your homework before the meeting before your meeting.

For example, if you know that the finance team is working on reducing cost then a natural question would be to understand the specific focus areas for cost reduction.

b) Ask Your Manager Or Department VP

In case you are working in a large company or your CFO is not accessible for some reason then ask your manager.

If you are already reporting to the CFO’s office, then this should not be a problem.

Otherwise, ask the department Vice President what are the stated top goals of the CFO team. 99.9% of the time these goals are the organizational goals.

Now based on the answers to your questions, you can easily identify the CFO persona. For example, if they are heavily focused on compliance or they talk a lot about compliance with policies being the number 1 priority then the CFO persona is “The Finance expert’.

Similarly the talk about supporting organizational growth and how well finance can support an organization to grow. Then they could be “The performance leader” or “The generalist”

You can look at other personality traits to identify the correct persona.

3. Working With Finance Expert Persona

As we mentioned earlier, the Finance expert persona comes from a finance, audit, or even treasury background. A common theme would be a strong focus on compliance with policies and different regulations set up by different governing bodies.

So this persona would be highly focused on ensuring compliance with policies and spending control.

So what can procurement do to help this persona?

Focus on how procurement can help drive compliance with the defined spending policies. Whether it is pre-authorization of spend or contract signing authority. Ensuring that proper controls are followed gives CFOs assurance that they can meet their audit requirements.

If you are achieving these controls manually, that is great but you could always automate these controls by implementing a purchasing system.

Related: How To Implement A Procurement System Integration And Its Use Cases

4. Working With Generalist Persona

The generalist persona is focused on improving the operational performance of the company.

Given their background across multiple departments, they have a strong view of all functions of the company and how all cohesively fit together to deliver value for the company and its stakeholders.

CFO always cares about compliance but the generalist persona also focuses on enabling different departments and not just compliance.

So what can procurement do to help this CFO persona?

Only compliance focus will not garner the interest of these CFOs. Here procurement should be the enabler for the organization.

Let me elaborate, every department needs to purchase products or services to run their operations. The nature of the product or services provided could vary from department to department. So instead of projecting procurement as an enforcer of policies for compliance, present procurement as an enabler for the entire organization.

Procurement can free up the time invested by employees in finding new vendors or working with existing vendors. That frees up the time for the entire organization which can help drive an increase in productivity.

5. Working With Performance Leader Persona

As we mentioned above performance leaders are very analytical and highly focused on increasing operational efficiency wherever possible.

They would have a strong focus on simplification of processes, automation, and decision support systems. Their ideal scenario would be that the entire organization’s decision-making process is data-based.

They are analytical and emphasize metrics-driven, objective performance measurement for the company.

What can procurement do to help this CFO persona?

Automation and visibility are the two main selling points for a performance leader persona. That is first and foremost and the rest of the items like compliance, risk, etc. are taken care of.

You should answer the following question for a performance leader persona.

How can procurement enable enterprise visibility into spend and how that can help decision-making not only for finance teams but for the entire organization?

A couple of things you can focus on:

  • Highlight the procurement performance metrics like Spend under management and what it means when it comes to increasing cost savings.
  • What spending trends you can identify based on the data you have? Not just who your top suppliers are, they are table stakes but what is YOY growth on important categories. What is the CAGR for the last 5 years on your top 2 categories?

And if you can tie that to revenue and show the trend, your efforts will be certainly appreciated.

6. Working With Growth Expert Persona

Growth-oriented persona is focused on unlocking shareholder value. They are generally brought on when the business needs drastic changes or the industry trends are too volatile to have a steady organic growth curve.

What can procurement do to help this CFO persona?

We think procurement can be a better value-add by supporting the decision-making process around mergers or divestitures.

Let’s say your company is looking at acquiring companies to grow inorganically. Procurement can help in quantifying the synergies by understanding the vendor overlap and how the increased volume would drive better leverage for the company.

When companies merge, the market and shareholders expect synergies across the board – which includes reduced third-party cost.

By helping to quantify those savings, you can help the CFO team to better assess the feasibility of the synergies targets they have in mind.

Similarly, in the case of the sale of a business unit, you can help quantify negative synergies. Negative synergies are the leverage you would lose with your existing vendors due to decreased Spend.

Related: Why Mid-Market Companies Should Automate Purchasing Process

7. Focus Areas For Procurement

In this section, we cover some basic areas in which every procurement team can add value to the finance teams.

Cash And Spend Management

According to CPO Rising one of the ways procurement can increase collaboration with finance is by helping with cash management.

Both procurement and finance teams should become highly competent in cash management and that requires strong collaboration with the teams.

As you all know, cash and spend management is the lifeline of every business. If a company has a positive flow of cash, it can invest in new growth opportunities and increase the value for its shareholders by paying dividends or share buy backs.

Collaborating For Better Cash Management

a) Extending payment terms

By extending payment terms with suppliers, procurement can help drive better flow of cashg for the companies. Though it is a very simple concept, it is very challenging to implement There are multiple reasons for that

The complexity of your supply chain

Depending on how complex or simple your supply chain is, it could be a daunting or simple task. A simple Pareto analysis would help understand the concentration of spend.


For example, if 80% of your spend is with less than or equal to 20% of suppliers, then you know that focussing on 20% can drive desired results. But if your spend is spread out across a large number of suppliers then that needs more time and effort.

Stakeholders concerns

Extending payment terms is not an isolation exercise, it is very important to understand what concerns your stakeholders might have with this approach.

For example, you have a few critical suppliers who are small in size. Extending payment terms for those suppliers could have serious results including suppliers going bankrupt.

Now bankruptcy might be an exaggeration but if you understand your supplier profile and what % of business is contributed by your company then you are in a position to have a more educated conversation with your stakeholders.

The key is to address your stakeholder’s concerns before you aggressively start pushing to extend terms with your suppliers.

b) Decreasing working capital requirements

The other area where procurement and finance can collaborate is on reducing working capital requirements.

Let’s focus on one aspect of working capital which is inventory. The less inventory a company carries, the lower the working capital requirements for that company.

The following are two common approaches for reducing inventory and decreasing working capital requirements.

Decreasing lead times

One of the reasons companies carry more inventory on their books is that they have higher lead times or the lead times are not highly predictable.

Sometimes companies get better discounts by purchasing items in bulk and hence they are carrying more inventory.

Whatever the reason is, procurement can work with the logistics team and inventory planners to better understand the scenario and then work to help reduce the inventory by working with suppliers.

The suppliers need better forecasts and that alone could drive down the lead times. Sometimes the suppliers could decrease the lead times if you order in bulk assuming you can spread the deliveries across different months.

Partnership with other logistics companies/Distributors

The other solution for decreasing inventory is to purchase products from a distributor and have them hold the stock for you.

That can ensure that products are available when you need them without the need to carry a large inventory of products.

That, of course, comes at an increased cost but sometimes it could reduce cost because distributors have buying leverage which you might not have as an individual buyer.

Whatever the case, always do a total cost analysis to calculate the landing cost.

8. Collaborating With Finance To Provide Better Spend Visibility

Procurement lives in the world of categories and finance teams live in the world of books / General ledgers.

Procurement looks at cash out of the door, finance looks at that too but more focussed on budget vs. actual. Or in the case of operating expenses, and accruals from a better forecasting perspective.

Now if procurement reports on a cash basis and finance teams report on an accrual basis then the reporting would never match but that is not the purpose of spend reporting. Spend management is looking at long-term trends and identifying opportunities for cost reduction and not necessarily looking at budgets vs. forecasts.

9. Align Reporting Needs

The data available in ERP systems are highly summarized or in other words not very granular.

You can easily run a report where you can summarize the spend by General ledger codes (GL) or by the vendor but it is missing line item invoice details.

Essentially, the answer to “What are we spending money on” is generally a few clicks away and sometimes involves looking at individual invoices.

Procurement and finance teams can collaborate to bridge this gap by aligning their reporting needs.

If you can connect the GL data to the line item data available in Purchase orders or invoices then that provides a coherent and detailed view of the spending for any stakeholder in your organization.

Benefits Of Finance And Procurement Collaboration

This is a good question to ask because that makes you quantify what the collaboration means and how would you measure whether the collaboration is increasing or decreasing.

There are multiple ways to access the collaboration. Let’s look at one of them

PWC recently surveyed to quantify the benefits of procurement and finance collaboration.

Procurement and finance collaboration

Source: Perspectives on procurement

Let’s look at each one of them and how better collaboration between procurement and finance impacts this

Cost Savings

That is, of course, the obvious outcome of the collaboration. If the procurement team is delivering savings but they are not being booked by finance then you have not created any value for the organization.

By working together, procurement and finance can ensure that savings are reflected in the bottom line. The cost reduction could be an Opex reduction which impacts EBITDA (Earnings before Interest Tax and depreciation and amortization) or a Capex reduction which impacts the flow of cash.

When you are trying to sell procurement value to your organization, it is important to establish a cadence of reporting savings and ensure both teams (procurement and finance) agree on the booked savings.

When it comes to delivering sustainable value to the bottom line, you not only need collaboration with finance but your stakeholders also need to agree that their budgets can be adjusted for cost savings.

Spend Insights

Procurement and finance can collaborate to provide better data for overall planning. Especially to support the yearly planning cycles.

If you have detailed spending data, then that can help the finance team to better understand the spending instead of relying on the stakeholders all the time.

Vendor Landscape

Finance teams and specifically CFOs are involved with not just the buy side of the house but the sell side of the house too. They are continuously evaluating business cases for new investments or business cases for customer-specific investments.

So your CFO and finance team must understand your vendor landscape. This is important for two reasons

  • They can identify where the same company is vendor and customer too. This leads to better engagement and building a strategic relationship with your customers.
  • Your finance team can keep an eye on your big vendors and help you mitigate the supply chain risk. For example, you might not be tracking all the financial information about your suppliers, but your finance team might be closer to this information.

In the end, it is beneficial for the entire organization to understand who the key suppliers are and their criticality for the entire supply chain.


Depending on how the finance team is organized, the financial analysts are busy with answering questions for their stakeholders. Stakeholders are asking these questions to aid them in the decision-making process. Some of the questions

  • How are we doing against the budget?
  • Spend forecasts for a specific type of budget, for example, professional services.
  • Historical spending data for a vendor.
  • Overall spending trend for a department or in a given category

The end goal of the finance organization is to provide information to support the decision-making process for its stakeholders.

By joining hands, finance and procurement teams can identify areas for improving efficiencies around supporting stakeholders’ needs. You could probably use a common platform like a procure-to-pay system to provide the information to your stakeholders.

Barriers To Finance And Procurement Collaboration

So by now, we hope that you are convinced that there is value in procurement and finance collaboration

Now let’s look at the barriers to enabling this collaboration

Consulting firm PWC has identified the following barriers to increasing procurement and finance adoption. Let’s look at a few of them

Barriers to procurement and finance collaboration

Lack Of Trust And Perceived Value-Add

Some finance teams are very skeptical about the value procurement brings to the table. There could be many reasons for that, primarily being lack of past collaboration.

For example, a procurement team has been reducing costs but there was no impact on the bottom line. That could be because most of the savings are soft savings or the savings never got booked.

So for your stakeholders, you are adding a lot of value but for the finance team, there is no or limited value-add.

If the finance team has a better understanding of procurement value-add, that would increase the trust level between both teams.

In terms of communication, the message should be the same as any other stakeholder but here the focus should be more on the hard saving and increasing EBITDA.

Lack Of Communication Between Procurement And Finance

How often do you talk to your finance counterparts?

If you answered never or not very often, then that could be one of the reasons for the lack of collaboration between both teams.

On the surface level, the day-to-day job responsibilities for both teams are very different but if you think about the end goals, it is pretty much the same – Increasing shareholder value.

The more often the teams communicate, the better it is because both teams understand each other requirements and that leads to better collaboration.

Job Security

With finance and the function of procurement being so different, it is hard to imagine that the finance team would feel threatened by their procurement counterparts.

So on the surface of this, it seems absurd that why finance team would feel threatened by procurement. Let’s evaluate why that might be the case.

Finance teams work with their stakeholders (assigned department owners) to help them budget, provide visibility into spending, and answer any questions they might have.

Now if your pitch is that we can provide enterprise-level spend visibility so that your stakeholders can view their spending information or answer key questions then some finance team members might feel less important.

The reality is that if budget owners have information at their fingertips, they would call finance less for trivial questions.

Rather now the finance team has more time to look at analysis and trends and help their stakeholders with long-term planning questions.

Procurement needs to look at finance as a partner or a stakeholder and then suit the communication cadence accordingly.

Clear and regular communication is critical for increasing collaboration between procurement and finance.

Why We Focus On Finance Only?

You must be asking why we are focusing only on finance, Doesn’t increasing collaboration require working with all the stakeholders in the company?

We agree with that assessment, engaging stakeholders is the key to enhancing procurement value in the organization.

But the basic premise of this assumption is that procurement value add is well appreciated by finance and now you are working on increasing procurement influence.

But if the value is not well appreciated, few stakeholders might appreciate the engagement

So what we recommend

Follow the money:

Cost savings the not the only value add procurement can provide. But if you are trying to establish the value of procurement, that is, of course, the obvious point to start.

That’s why we recommend starting with finance and that is what the rest of the blog is all about.

Increasing the collaboration with finance to drive better procurement value.


What Is Financial Collaboration?

Financial collaboration refers to the concerted effort between different departments or functions within an organization, particularly finance and other areas such as procurement, to work together towards common goals.

This collaboration involves sharing information, aligning strategies, and coordinating efforts to achieve financial objectives effectively.

Why Is Collaboration Important in Finance?

Collaboration in finance is crucial because it ensures that various aspects of financial management are aligned and optimized to support the organization’s overall objectives.

By working collaboratively, finance teams can enhance decision-making processes, improve resource allocation, mitigate risks, and drive financial performance.

Additionally, collaboration fosters transparency, accountability, and trust within the organization, leading to better outcomes.

What Is The Difference Between Finance and Procurement

Finance and procurement are distinct functions within an organization, each with its own set of responsibilities and objectives.

Finance primarily focuses on managing the organization’s financial resources, including budgeting, financial planning, accounting, and reporting.

On the other hand, procurement is responsible for sourcing, purchasing, and managing goods and services needed by the organization to operate effectively. While finance oversees the financial aspects of transactions and investments, procurement handles the operational aspects of acquiring goods and services.

How Does Procurement Relate To Finance?

Procurement and finance are closely related functions that often intersect in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process.

Procurement activities, such as sourcing suppliers, negotiating contracts, and making purchases, directly impact the finances of the organization.

Effective collaboration between procurement and finance ensures that these activities are aligned with financial objectives, budgets, and regulations.

Additionally, finance provides oversight on procurement spending, ensures compliance with financial policies, and analyzes the financial implications of procurement decisions, ultimately contributing to sound financial management across the organization.

The Bottomline

In conclusion, it’s clear that procurement and finance collaboration isn’t merely an optional perk—it’s an essential ingredient for any procurement team aiming to truly elevate their organization’s value.

However, simply hoping for improved collaboration won’t suffice. Procurement must proactively take the reins and spearhead initiatives to enhance this collaboration.

One effective approach is to view finance teams as integral stakeholders and prioritize robust engagement with them. By treating finance as equal partners in the process, procurement can drive more impactful outcomes and foster a culture of collaboration that benefits the entire organization.

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.