Plus Content

10 Reasons For Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 2) [Plus+]

e-invoicing

In the first installment of this series, we explored several arguments in favor of why procurement should get closer to the actual settlement process and cash flows of the final step in procurement transactions: payment. Today, we move into reducing supplier risk, capturing savings and reducing contract/compliance leakage through closing the transaction, invoice, and payment loop, and the importance of greater visibility into supplier engagement models and supplier network fees (amongst other reasons).

10 Reasons For Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 1) [Plus+]

Sometime shortly after the phrase “P2P” was born, we managed to collectively forget what the second “P” meant. As a friendly reminder, it stands for “pay.” Rather than spanning the length of a transaction from an initial order to payment to a vendor, P2P became known (while companies wrote RFPs for solutions and as vendors marketed tools) as the combination of e-procurement and e-invoicing. This duo, while extremely valuable, doesn’t exactly impact payment all that much (if at all).

But payment matters much more than most folks we talk to in procurement think. By taking control of payments, we can, for example, do an end-run around the administration hassles and supplier headaches that poorly run accounts payable (AP) functions create. And this is just one reason to consider getting more involved in payment strategy and execution. In fact, we can think of at least 10 reasons that should factor into a business case for procurement to seize control and initiative around payments.

An Opportune Time for Collaboration: Procurement and Accounts Payable (Part 1) [Plus+]

Historically, procurement and accounts payable have been slightly awkward bedfellows in many companies. They’ve been loosely coupled through the front-end (e.g., vendor on-boarding, registration process) and the back-end (e.g., approvals, dispute management, discounting, payment, invoice auditing) in both online and offline worlds for various aspects of supplier engagement and management.

Yet in the past decade, procurement as a role and business focus (not always as function, mind you) has garnered greater respect as a means of driving bottom line savings — often identified, not always implemented. It has still been one part of an odd couple, unfortunately, but the lesser odd partner. But that’s the subject for another post, let alone a volume of books. More important, for our purposes, accounts payable has not garnered the same level of interest, and has truly remained an odd cost-center and stepchild under the broader finance umbrella.

In fact, as many procurement organizations have been able to make the business case for more strategic resources based on quantifiable value (e.g., cost reduction, risk analysis/reduction) in the past decade, accounts payable has faced a near constant pressure to cut costs through reduced resources based on various automation schemes — internal shared services, business process outsourcing (BPO), technology or a combination thereof.

Procurement has not been overly keen on taking ownership of accounts payable, either. This goes back a long way. One of my favorites comes from Spend Matters UK/Europe Managing Director Peter Smith. Below, we feature his story and view into accounts payable from a CPO perspective.

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 3): The Top 10 Impact Areas for Procurement’s Involvement in FP&A [Plus+]

invoice

In the second installment of this series, we discussed procurement’s role in helping finance professionals and budget owners use spend data to improve the FP&A process and general business planning. Now in Part 3, we get specific about how to tackle this beast with some specific recommendations that we’ve seen proven out at both advanced firms and at firms that are further back in the bell curve of procurement maturity.

The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List: February 2018 [Plus+]

This is the first edition of Spend Matters’ new monthly feature, “The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List,” available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. While for many the mention of “contingent workforce and services” may elicit a barely suppressed yawn or a semi-glazed look, others know that what is true is often more than meets the eye. Beneath a spend category associated mainly with traditional temp staffing and under the surface of the obtuse, clinical label of “contingent workforce and services” (CW/S) lies a hotbed of innovation (I kid you not).

Technology, new economic realities, and supply- and demand-side transformation are giving rise to new alternatives for sourcing and consuming workforce and services within enterprises. Some of these developments are obviously relevant and potentially applicable in an enterprise context, others simply represent innovations in the environment that may, in some form or another, become relevant and applicable down the line.

In this series, we try to set the record straight, perhaps turn a few heads (or at least provoke a double-take) and even prevent some unwary practitioners from getting burned. In the depths of the evolving and expanding contingent workforce and services environment, events and developments, technology-based innovations and emerging sourcing and consumption models, may be brewing and may escape observation and require illumination. To shed some light, at the top of every month, we will summarize specific events and developments that have recently appeared on our radar, and we will offer brief commentary on the significance.

Now, welcome to the February edition of The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List!

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 2): Spend Planning and Analysis [Plus+]

e-invoicing

In the first installment of this series, we discussed ways to align procurement with the finance function, starting with financial accounting and then moving into cost accounting. Although cost accounting has one foot in the financial accounting world in terms of tracking costs and having them flow to the general ledger (GL), the more important side of cost accounting is its part in managerial accounting and total cost management.

Managerial accounting is about analyzing financials to make good business decisions. It includes analyzing historical costs and spending, but only in the context of improving future spending and reduce total economic costs. One aspect of economic costs is opportunity costs, and procurement must work hard with finance to understand the procurement ROI that comes from strong management of external spending led by the procurement organization. This ROI is measured in triple digits but must be demonstrated with hard numbers.

More importantly, however, procurement’s ability to partner with finance to better influence future spending is the most practical way to influence financial and business results. This comes from procurement aligning well with finance within the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes that occur in finance. Hopefully, FP&A is more than just basic budgeting at your organization. Done well, it provides the critical linkage to not only financial planning but also strategic and operational planning that drive success for budget owners, broader stakeholders and shareholders.

Given the importance of FP&A, we’re going to focus on this collaboration area and how to apply it to spend management, which you can think of as “spend planning and analysis” before the spend actually occurs, as opposed to traditional “spent analysis” of spend that already happened. This focus upstream is fundamentally about transformation and changing procurement’s role in the planning and budgeting process. Luckily, this area creates much higher quality of spend influence, which drives proven levels of spend savings.

The Consequences of Eliminating Purchase Orders (POs) [Plus+]

finance

Should procurement eliminate purchase orders (POs) entirely? This is a daring concept in theory, provided an organization has the right processes and systems to control internal purchasing and buying activities and to protect against mistakes suppliers might create, accidentally or otherwise, for unsuspecting purchasing and accounts payable organizations to correct. These errors could include duplicate invoices, use of substitute products or materials, wrong line-level pricing, invoices based on the wrong quantities and invoices impacted by escalation/de-escalation clauses that are tracked incorrectly.

But procurement has been trained (mostly by control-crazy finance) to require the PO. In fact, think about CPOs touting 100% “no PO, no pay” policies.  Yes, it’s highly controlled, but does it make sense? Are the purported controls worth the cost and risk (in the form of time not monitoring other more important risks)? Procurement and AP organizations considering a “no PO” policy not only need to find ways to protect against these types of errors and mistakes, as well as outright fraud, either supplier-driven or internal. They also need to consider other side issues where key workarounds are necessary

Economic and Policy Supply Chain: The Non-Invisible Hand [Plus+]

Adam Smith is famous for coining the phrase the “invisible hand” to suggest the collective transparent forces of a market that work together as a whole based on the self-interest of participating members. While Smith used the phrase only a handful of times in his writing, the term has become synonymous with the famous theorist. We can leave the economic theory and philosophizing for another day. The concept itself, however, is clearly valuable: much of what occupies the daily toils of the typical procurement or supply chain manager is directly tied to the broader trade of goods, services and ideas, and ultimately, the pursuit of profit and returns based on the collective set of activities. But what's also equally important to consider is the “non-invisible hand” and how it affects our priorities and overall goals.

Is Total Talent Management Really the Next Big Thing? Or is There Something Else? [Plus+]

SciQuest

We hear the terms total talent management (TTM), holistic talent management and blended workforce bandied about with great frequency by analysts and writers these days. But when and how it will be achieved remain unclear. While some declare the time is right for such an approach and hazard conceptual roadmaps, others have wondered whether the idea is really feasible. This concept of a unified way of sourcing and engaging both permanent and contingent labor/talent is appealing and probably inevitable, but its realization is – even according to its promoters – admittedly still some ways off. Spend Matters believes there could be another, more near-term development, closer to home in the areas of contingent workforce and services that has already started to occur and is of more practical relevance to procurement. This is a trend toward a comprehensive independent workforce ecosystem and eventually workforce as a service, which will mean correlating capabilities and outcomes under an expanded services taxonomy. But what exactly is this other development? Read on...

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 1) [Plus+]

finance

Much has been written about the need for procurement and finance organizations to better align with each other, in particular how the two functions can best integrate purchasing and payables into an end-to-end purchase-to-pay (P2P) process. The opportunity for aligning these two functions, however, is much greater than simply improving transaction efficiency. Unfortunately, the various sources of misalignment that plague procurement and finance prevent many businesses from identifying these opportunities in the first place.

The sad part of this story is that the two functions share many common traits. Both seek to:

  • Elevate their value propositions as enabling business partners by providing compelling service offerings — and overcome their perception as bureaucratic corporate overlords
  • Maximize enterprise value and profitable growth through disciplined spend management
  • Spend not just less but better in terms of process efficiency and process effectiveness
  • Use new techniques and technologies to help the business make better decisions that support the above goals
Additionally, these functions should in theory strive to serve each other as internal customers while also enabling the other to deliver higher value to their own internal (and external) customers. Unfortunately, theory has rarely translated into reality, and the result is that each function is leaving money (and risk) on the table.

Procurement can certainly help finance get more value from its suppliers, but it can also help finance improve service delivery in areas such as FP&A, treasury, tax, financial accounting, risk and compliance, commodity management and even accounts payable.

On the flipside, finance can help procurement in multiple ways, namely to help procurement on value-adding activities — including helping finance. This is a classic “help me, help you” moment. If procurement can help finance help procurement (and help finance help itself), then procurement’s value potential can be truly unlocked.

The Leap From Contingent Workforce to Extended Workforce and Services [Plus+]

This Plus brief proposes that an organizational shift is taking place from (a) enterprises that source and consume a limited set of labor/talent resources (contingent workforce) through certain processes and technology solutions to (b) enterprises that are advancing to another stage (extended workforce) in which a broader array of labor/talent-based services can be accessed by internal business consumers. Some of the pieces of the extended workforce ecosystem are already present, but major gaps in technology and processes must be filled, and procurement must become interested in moving beyond its limited contingent workforce view and take an interest in making extended workforce a reality for their businesses.

Self-Sourcing Contingent Workforce: What it is and Why it Matters Now [Plus+]

Many services procurement and contingent workforce managers in mid-to-large enterprises are already at various stages of implementing supplier and spend management programs to control and enable their businesses’ consumption of the contingent workforce. These programs typically allow business users to submit a request specifying the characteristics of the kind of worker(s) or business outcome(s) they desire. From that point, it is typically the program — and its rules, processes and systems, like a vendor management system (VMS) — that will source the specified worker(s) or project(s) from third-party supplier firms, which are almost always temp agencies or statement of work (SOW) suppliers, and hopefully deliver what the business user specified and desired.

In effect, it is the program, not the business user, that sources the worker(s) or project(s) for the business user. And the business user directly engages with the worker(s) or project resources at the end of the sourcing process, which can go on for weeks, often with many repeated cycles, until the business user is satisfied with the program’s deliverable.

By contrast, self-sourcing, which will be discussed in this Spend Matters Plus brief, allows the business users to identify, engage, select and procure labor resources (today typically independent workers) on their own, directly. Self-sourcing will increasingly become a contingent workforce buying channel, driven by user demand and enabling technology, and procurement and contingent workforce managers must now begin to understand it and prepare to management it.