Purchase to Pay

The original vision was right. The cost of purchasing as well as the cost of purchases could be dramatically reduced by applying the new technology. And there was a road map – a detailed vision showing how to secure the savings. The costs weren’t even that high – especially in comparison to the potential savings - but in the excitement, we lost the map and now, the vision is lost.

Finally the penny has dropped. Automating the purchasing process and controlling spend more closely by using modern technology reduces cost compared to following a manual or paper based process. This could save between 5% and 20% of procurement expenditure according to the EU commission. That means that the EU could reduce its public procurement spend of €2 trillion and save a massive €100 million. And all this can be achieved in 4 years – apparently. That’s a huge amount of money. 150 large hospitals could be built with that so it’s worth aiming for before anyone gets excited – and I hate to be the bearer of bad news – it isn’t going to happen.

Ask anyone who’s worked in more than one purchasing organization. When it comes to technology, they’re not normally what you would describe as model implementations. Supplier data all over the place, catalogues out of date, Heinz 57 varieties of purchasing system. Purchase to Pay processes are very rarely joined up and if purchase to pay really is the plumbing of your organization, you’d be drowning. But before you beat yourself up about your role in this chaos, ask yourself the question: Why is it that everything is always a mess?

When we wrote that e-procurement was getting interesting here we didn’t anticipate that it would be one of the most read Purchasing Insight articles of 2012. There is obviously an appetite amongst purchasing professionals for this topic and now there's a new report that you need to get your hands on.

This week I had the privilege to see a demonstration of a technology that is going to fundamentally change accounts payable. Kofax announced the acquisition of Mobiflex in December last year. They announced at the time that this would bring Kofax Capture to remote workers allowing truck drivers, field engineers, architects and insurance claims assessors to capture data from documents in the field. We wrote about it here and I have to confess I was skeptical. But, after seeing the demo, skeptic no more. From an AP automation perspective, Kofax Mobile Capture is even better than even Kofax know. And here’s why.

This is 2012 and still my bank appears not to know who I am. This is despite the fact I have credit cards, insurance, checking accounts and mortgages with them.  Shouldn’t their customer relationship management systems be able to identify me? Maybe they do have a clever CRM system and maybe I’ve just been segmented into the “who the f*** is this guy” category. It’s one of the great disappointments of the 21st century that the local pizza place knows me better than my bank.