For a complete business-driven look at the benefits (and challenges) associated with eProcurement and broader P2P systems integration in a cloud environment, we encourage you to download: Procurement Systems Integration Within the Enterprise: Exploring Integration In The Cloud.
Based on our recent and past research (as well as our own experience implementing various procurement systems over the years), Spend Matters cannot overemphasize the importance of prioritizing systems integration as a core component of overall P2P strategy. Some companies may not select specific P2P systems based on the native and cloud integration capability of the toolset over other areas (e.g., ease of use). This needs to change, as we believe it is essential to think about integration even before a selection process begins – and for integration to have at least moderate consideration during a selection process.
In the above-linked Spend Matters Perspective, we recommend a number of specific action items and takeaways for companies to consider pre, during and post-implementation for individual eProcurement and e-invoicing implementations as well as broader P2P roll-outs. Our recommendations include:
- Thinking through both industry and company-specific integration requirements as early as possible (i.e., pre-selection)
- Viewing integration as a buy-side looking glass on a complex enterprise world. P2P can – and should – serve as a surface layer for integration to broader business enablement (e.g., enabling a better delivery of services to customers through third-party contractors managed by procurement); under ideal integration scenarios, a P2P front-end should really serve as a surface layer gateway to a complex world behind the wall (the faucet to a complex array of pipes and plumbing knitting together internal and external business processes, systems and participants)
- Prioritizing capability when making a P2P decision by considering a vendor's track record for integration scenarios while simultaneously considering absolute capability and usability
In regards to this last observation, there are a range of P2P vendors with strong integration track records. Ariba, in behind-the-firewall instances, ranks as one of the most flexible systems to integrate (provided companies have six or seven figure budgets). Other independent P2P providers with strong integration track records based on our own customer research and interviews include Verian (behind the firewall or hosted) and Coupa. But regardless of which P2P provider a company opts to deploy, it is essential to remember that integration should be the outcome of desired business processes and visibility rather than limited by the constraints of the toolset itself (this is what hindered, upon its original release, cloud deployments of Ariba P2P from an integration perspective – although Ariba has done a lot to address this initial shortcoming).
If you're curious about P2P systems integration, we encourage you to download the following Spend Matters Perspective: Procurement Systems Integration Within the Enterprise: Exploring Integration In The Cloud. The research brief is part of the Spend Matters Research Library, a service that offers free access to over fifty Spend Matters papers for qualified procurement and supply chain practitioners.