Innovative companies of all sizes and types are turning to Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) automation to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and increase visibility and control of their spending. Once they decide on P2P as a solution, however, they still have to ascertain which specific tool from which specific provider will best suit their needs.
The Case for Reporting and Analytics
P2P automation mainly includes accounts payable, electronic procurement and payment solutions, while some solutions also incorporate contract management, expense reporting, sourcing applications and supplier network management.
Some software is packaged in comprehensive platforms that perform all required functions, while others are sold as separate tools that can be integrated into existing systems as needed.
The most common reason companies turn to AP automation is to reduce the time and cost of invoice management, while those who turn to procurement solutions are doing so to enhance control and visibility. That means spend management features, such as reporting and analytics, often go ignored.
Spend management solutions are typically not sold as stand-alone products, and many companies are not yet up to par technologically to make the most of them, two more reasons spend management tools are not a high priority when choosing a solution. It’s only when companies get their new systems up and running do they realize the even more strategic approach provided by spend management tools would further increase their control and efficiency.
This segmented adoption method is both unnecessary and even detrimental. Companies could get the most value from a P2P solution while gaining a more rapid ROI by evaluating all the features of their software options from the get-go – especially those related to spend management reporting and analytics.
The Power of Reporting and Analytics
Spend management solutions typically consist of three main components:
- Built-in reporting
- Custom report builders
Standard P2P packages typically only offer pre-built reports, while more advanced solutions will provide all three report-related options. You may even find additional reporting options using third-party analytics vendors.
Built-in reporting: This feature lets users run their transactional data through templates, automating a large bulk of the analytical work. Data can be extracted from all areas of the platform as well as other existing systems, with drill-down features to home in on specific details.
Dashboards: Dashboards provide consolidated views of data extracted from reports, making it much simpler to decipher and analyze. They are often easily configured to reflect report data and graphs most relevant to user roles, with drag-and-drop options for near-instant customization.
Custom report builders: This feature allows companies to build unique reports using nearly any set of data, edit and rebuild an existing report, or amend a series of report templates.
Other Points to Consider
Companies evaluating P2P platforms and solutions have a few other points to consider. Companies need to:
- Select a provider that recognizes the value of spend management
- Thoroughly evaluate their own business requirements
- Understand complexities related to pricing and packaging
- Focus on overall strategy
Find a P2P solution that will work for you, that integrates into your existing systems and is equipped with standard and advanced reporting tools as well as spend control features. The solution should also have flexible pricing and implementation to suit your exact needs.
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