Table of Contents
SECTION 1: What Is Procure-to-Pay?
SECTION 2: Typical Procurement Framework
SECTION 3: Steps Involved in the Procure-to-Pay Cycle
SECTION 4: Common Procurement Cycle Challenges
SECTION 5: Why Automated Procure-to-Pay Matters.
SECTION 6: Benefits of Automated Procure-to-Payment
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Section 1: What is Procure-to-Pay?
The procurement process has become a necessity for business efficiency. It concerns the
buying and managing of raw materials that a company requires to manufacture its products
or provide services. This process typically involves huge cash flows and requires visibility
throughout the transaction cycle, from vendor selection to the final invoice generation and
payments with adjustments.
A procurement plan is indispensable and can be implemented in any small to mid-tier
thriving business. Successful procurement planning can define clear purchasing guidelines,
place a company above their competitors, and identify anticipated goods and services for
potential purchase, thus reducing expected costs.
Section 2: Typical Procurement Framework
A dynamic procurement process includes transparent, efficient online purchase request
creation by any department. The ability to vet suppliers, check budget, time, and quality,
and enforce contracts are all built in. Single-click approval capability using desktop or
mobile and orders issued to suppliers is completely online.
Other important considerations include automatic three-way matching and payment issued
with built-in facilities. The ultimate goal should be a complete paperless process that spans
from receiving goods and services receipts to invoicing.
Section 3: Steps Involved in the Procure-to-Pay Cycle
1) Identifying the Requirement
The buyer determines and defines business requirements. Procurement (along with
the relevant business team) sketches out specifications for goods/products and
terms of reference (ToR) for services, as well as statements of work (SoW).
2) Creating Requisitions
A requester fills out a purchase requisition form and submits it into the system.
Next, the department head and procurement officers review the submitted purchase
requisitions. The requisition’s approval or rejection is based on need, budget, and validation.
4) Vetting suppliers
Screening and monitoring vendor selection is a vital step. Once the list is made, the
buyer sends each vendor a request for proposal (RFP) or quote outlining the
5) Taking quotes and negotiating terms
Suppliers return a bid on the job, detailing turnaround. This includes time, price, and
pertinent material specifications. A supplier quote may also contain sales terms, payment
terms, delivery terms, freight fees, insurance fees, quantity discounts, quality details, and
more. After this, both parties agree on terms and conditions and the deal is finalized.
6) Issuing the PO
Once negotiations with potential suppliers are concluded, the company awards the supplier with
a contract and purchase order. The purchase requisition form includes a description of goods and
services, department account number, authorized managers’ signatures, delivery instructions, and
a quote from the authorized vendor.
7) Inspection of goods
After the goods are received, inspection activities, including quality and quantity checks, are
8) Preparing the goods receipt note (GRN)
Once the company receives the goods from the supplier, the purchasing department prepares a
goods receipt. This is an internal document produced after inspecting delivery. It is compared
with the purchase order for validation. The goods receipt is inspected and then approved or
rejected by the authority based on the standards specified in the purchasing contract or purchase
order. If any discrepancies are discovered, the buyer can contact the seller and post a complaint.
9) Invoice received
After acknowledging the received goods, the vendor submits an invoice for payment, which is
then entered into the system.
10) Three-way match
The system automatically uses a three-way matching process, comparing the purchase order,
invoice, and all other delivery documents. This helps confirm that the goods have been delivered
as ordered and billed accordingly. The items that do not match are flagged and reported for
11) Vendor payment
Once the three-way match is successful and the invoice, purchase order, and delivery documents
all match, invoices.
Section 4: Steps Involved in the Procure-to-Pay Cycle
As seen above, the average procurement cycle can be highly complex. This can lead to serious
problems, such as:
- Slow invoice processing time
Manual routing, processing, and sign-off procedures slow down the Procure-to-Payment
cycle. This can make it difficult to capture early payment discounts, cause late payment
penalties, and even damage your supplier relationships.
- Difficult data retrieval
When invoices and POs are stored and retrieved manually, finding information quickly
can be virtually impossible. Whether you’re handling audits, vendor inquiries, or another
process, the work can quickly get complicated.
- Lack of centralized data
Companies using more than one ERP system may find it hard to have a single, integrated
source of accurate supplier and business data. This impairs global spend visibility and
could mean that potential compliance issues aren’t flagged.
Section 5: Why Automated Procure-to-Pay Matters
What can automation do to address these issues? Here is a quick summary:
- It makes invoice processing exponentially faster.
- You can virtually eliminate double payments and over payment, while
completely eliminating human error.
- It gives better insight and transparency.
- It’s easier to monitor accounts payable performances and productivity.
- It makes reporting, budgeting, and auditing far more efficient and accurate.
Section 6: Benefits of Automated Procure-to-Pay
Streamline supplier management processes
Working with multiple vendors requires a lot of time and effort. Automation provides a clear line
of disclosure and transparency between buyers and suppliers. With an automated and responsive
system, suppliers can quickly respond to bids and buyers can assign each order to the best
You can have a combined view of actual expenses, which helps when making well-informed
purchasing decisions. Moreover, this can continuously assist in keeping costs low and identifying
inefficiencies. With immediate access to analytics, its easier to react quickly to unexpected
problems so you can determine the best course of action. Altogether, there is more control over
your department’s budget and more transparency to help the business stay profitable.
Eliminate cumbersome manual steps to save time
One of the biggest possible bottlenecks in procurement operations is the purchase order
approval process. Automation makes this cycle far faster as it includes an e-signing application
and provides proactive alerts to inform key players of pending actions.
All contracts accessible from a central place
Centralizing and consolidating allows you to manage duplicate or overlapping contracts to avoid
problems. By automating contract management, you can on-board new suppliers more quickly
and ensure all critical guidelines remain consistent for each document. In addition, potential
compliance issues can be flagged. Alerts can be set up prior to a contract’s expiration, so you can
plan to negotiate new contracts with more favorable terms.
With immediate access to every document, as well as built-in analytics solutions, budgeting
becomes easier and more efficient. Automation can help generate in-depth reports and provide
a granular view of all expenses. This allows for more accurate predictions for future budgets,
and assists you with identifying possible cost savings.
Automation can improve not just procurement, but several other critical aspects of
business as well. With more intelligent processes comes better data gathering, which
you can use to inform departments and business decisions. While deciding how to
automate may take serious consideration, the results could be hugely beneficial to
Symtrax is a worldwide software company helping organizations enhance document
management processes with cloud-ready solutions in mind. Our ever-expanding range of
connectors establishes compatibility easily, and our Compleo Suite software can address a wide
range of challenges through its specialized modules. To learn more, visit our site or contact us at
About the Author
Vijeta Shetty — Documentation and Communication Manager
Vijeta Shetty is the Manager of Documentation and Communication and has over 12 year of
experience working with Symtrax software.
The Essentials of Procure to Pay