ITESOFT and Mazars have once again collaborated to deliver the 5th edition of the annual “Purchase-to-Pay Automation” survey, in partnership with Accounts Payable News, Shared Services Link and Fujitsu. This European-wide finance poll is a widely regarded benchmark for accounting and finance professionals working in mid-to-large sized organisations within the public and private sector. This comprehensive report identifies emerging industry trends and the key factors for a successful Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) process, comparing different P2P practices across UK, Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Multi-ERP integration, financial & accounting management tools, supplier collaboration and mobile applications have been reported as the four new emerging trends within the purchase-to-pay automation arena.
The main findings of this 2014 edition
- P2P automation is an ever-growing practice within AP departments, confirmed by 75.5% of all survey respondents that reported they have implemented one or more solutions for their AP processes. This is a 15% increase from 2012.
- Respondents within this 75.5%, outlined three main advantages of having an automation solution in place; a reduction in administrative costs, a reduction in processing times, and a general improvement in the management of the entire purchase-to-pay process (from creation of the purchase request to payment of the invoice).
- The rate of growth for P2P projects is consistent across all countries, with 58% of respondents reportedly having a P2P project for their AP process. Given the already high implementation rate, these projects often involve the addition of new applications (e.g. the collaborative supplier portal) or new roll-outs.
- In this current era, globalisation is increasing, leading towards the globalisation of new P2P projects. This globalisation operates on two levels; a functional scope (all of the Purchase-to-Pay chain is now taken into account) and a geographical scope (1/3 of all projects underway or planned will be rolled out in respondents’ international subsidiaries).
- Financial and Accounting departments need “flexible” solutions that are capable of adapting to frequent organisational and IT changes. 43.5% of respondents say that the reorganisation of their accounts payable department is “likely” or “being considered”. At the same time, the accounting IT system is heterogeneous (15% of companies are multi-ERP) and can change quickly; 29% of respondents indicate they have changed at least once during the past three years.
- In fact flexibility i.e. “multi-ERP integration” and the “business-line management tool” are reported as the two new key principles when choosing a P2P solution. On average, 82% of respondents maintain that it is ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ important to choose a platform that is capable of carrying out multiple, diverse applications as well as adapting to fast organisational changes.
- And 84% of respondents also choose according to the capacity of the P2P solution to automatically generate management indicators to monitor the whole chain, regardless of the existing or future IT systems and organisational methods.
- The onset of new practices: the supplier portal
- The UK is the precursor in this area; nearly 25% of organisations in the UK have implemented a supplier portal, compared to just 14.5% in France. This emerging practice is expected to gradually grow, with 17.6% of projects reported for France, 27% for the UK and almost 19.3% on average for the all countries covered by the study.
- ... and mobile applications
To improve flexibility and responsiveness, and keep in line with “DAF 3.0”, 30% of Finance and Accounting departments are already using smartphones and tablets to authorise management of the business line in real time. In 23% of cases they use them to consult documents and 19% for their collaborative process (validating a procurement request or an invoice).
The full results of the 2014 ‘Purchase-to-Pay Automation’ Finance Survey are available for download here