Intersecting Procurement and Finance: Top Trends for 2013

Join us on March 7 for our webinar from 10-11am Central, sponsored by Hubwoo: When Procurement Met Finance: How to Achieve the Hollywood Ending.

We were recently asked to share some of our thoughts based on the intersection of procurement and finance trends we expect to see emerge in 2013 (note: these trends bisect both organizations – not individual or compartmentalized focus areas). Based on informal discussions with a variety of practitioners, consultants and vendors in January, we came up with a short list (don't ask for the complete laundry list – it ain’t pretty).

Here are some of the top procurement and finance intersecting trends we observed and heard from last year:

  • Greater collaboration in the area of risk management, especially with finance resources beginning to provide greater support to procurement
  • eProcurement and e-invoicing often remaining separate solution areas for investment, but with a significant push and growth rate for the former with new customers and expanded deployments beginning to raise questions for procurement (not just AP) about closing the invoicing and payment loop
  • Significant interest in auxiliary areas burgeoning such as dynamic discounting/supply chain finance, rebates/trade credits and vendor/supplier management systems visibility and integration into AP environments
  • Invoice automation and shared services initiatives not showing any signs of decline, as larger BPOs focus on F&A deals with procurement and supplier enablement specific partners for P2P enablement and connectivity

As we turn to 2013, what’s changing? Here are a few top-priority intersection areas for both finance and procurement:

  • Sorting through the Ariba/SAP situation (especially for SAP shops) should be a priority item. Yet commercially, SAP and Ariba efforts are not yet integrated (there isn’t a single face to the customer – and not one comp/incentive plan for SAP/Ariba reps to position specific solutions)
  • Significant new adoption and early buying signals are on the horizon for solutions that “surround” P2P systems including P2P on-boarding, supplier transactional/network connectivity and catalog/content management
  • Working more closely with procurement to create a measurable means to identify, implement, track and measure savings impact on a total-cost, P&L basis (note: not spend analysis!)
  • Serving the business globally, regardless of procurement structure and organizational hierarchy, is becoming more and more important
  • Working with IT and solution partners to develop new analytics, reporting, and compliance mechanisms to support targeted initiatives (e.g., conflict minerals)

Of course there are several other trending procurement/finance areas we’ve observed recently and in previous research. These include prioritizing:

  • Anticipating/forecasting (cash, revenue, demand, etc.) and mapping to procurement and working capital strategies during a continued European downturn and US uncertainty
  • Risk management, but an expanded perspective/definition
  • Commodity, cost volatility and reducing exposure/risk
  • New services-focused areas including complex categories – managing value and outcomes with cost as a key component
  • New ways of becoming more efficient on the periphery (e.g., A/P, indirect spend) and focusing on core operations without necessarily tossing lower cost bodies (offshore or own) at the problem
  • Optimizing for total supply chain/supply management costs for procurement and payables (inventory, working capital, unit cost, logistics, tax implications, etc.)

Of course these trends say nothing for the continued friction that so often exists between procurement and finance centered on identifying savings, implementing savings and impacting budgets versus simply having procurement claim victory for identifying opportunities to take costs out of the business. But they can serve as a start for discussion and discourse as companies attempt to bridge the procurement and finance divide.

Want more? Join us on March 7 for our webinar from 10-11am Central, sponsored by Hubwoo: When Procurement Met Finance: How to Achieve the Hollywood Ending.

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