Avoid P2P Software Pitfalls by Understanding Your Company’s Requirements

By John Sepcie

Evaluating procure-to-pay (P2P) software can be a daunting, and sometimes frustrating, task. Whether you are an experienced procurement professional with years of ERP and P2P platform experience or are scouting for the best first platform for your company, knowing what you need is vital.

It’s equally important to know what you don’t need and what you might overlook. Understanding your requirements and avoiding unnecessary add-on features and customization are crucial to an objective evaluation. While you shouldn’t be fooled by the bells and whistles, you also must be aware of common P2P pitfalls:

ERP integration. An effective P2P platform should have seamless ERP integration. While this might seem like common sense, it’s an often-overlooked component. Whether your company runs different ERPs for different departments or plans to centralize its purchasing with new P2P software, it’s critical that the upstream and downstream can connect and communicate with limited manual inputs.

Involve the tech team in discussions to understand the nuance of the systems and how they will communicate with one another. Develop this understanding early on, making sure to ask questions around ERP integration.

Authority limits and approvals. Don’t overcomplicate the authority limits and approval/decision trees. This can be as simple as skip-not-step approval flows or out-of-office delegation, but if you have multiple categories and approvers by spend, take time to understand how approvals work within a given module. Compare your current approval process to the proposed solution and identify where bottlenecks might occur within the new platform. Although many platforms advertise approval tree/flow capabilities, ask questions around these and ensure that the platform you’re considering makes sense for your team or organization.

Catalogs. Catalogs can be a crucial asset to procurement or purchasing departments. But don’t be fooled by a platform’s lavish user interfaces. Probe into (1) the functionality of the catalogs, and, equally as important, (2) how off-catalog purchasing works. Look beyond a “standard purchase” during a demo session and question such key functions as punch-outs, blanket POs and the other requisition types your organization uses.

Moreover, make sure the process to initiate an off-catalog request is simple and convenient for the user as such requests will take time to triage, process and complete. Don’t lose valuable time redirecting users from catalog to off-catalog request types. Users shouldn’t be redirected to several pages before they can successfully submit their request.

Lift and shift. When implementing a new P2P platform, first revisit how your organization and processes work. Simply placing new software over broken processes won’t solve underlying or lingering issues within the procurement or purchasing departments.

Ask yourself whether your process works because of or despite your technology. Contemplate how functions and processes can be improved from a tactical as well as software perspective.

When shopping for new software, also consider leveraging consulting services to help make an educated choice and facilitate implementation confidently. Consultants should be familiar with the major P2P-software providers and software benefits for every organizational size, and thus, can help sort and filter the right candidates for your organization.

If you are just embarking on your P2P journey or looking for the right tool to take your organization to the next level, take time to understand how these functions play a role in your current process and investigate the software components.

While user experience and interfaces matter, remember to focus on some of the more functional components that may not be front and center, as these can inevitably be pitfalls that lead to another failed implementation.

John Sepcie

John Sepcie is an analyst at Corcentric in Philadelphia.