In the age of fast-growing technology and increasing competitiveness globally, it requires us to seize every opportunity possible either to enter a new market or to sustain in the existing market.  But it is quite a task when it comes to the procure-to-pay process in any business.

The Procure-to-pay arena involves a lot of goods purchase and invoices. It involves planning, issue requisition, approvals of purchase orders (PO), collecting and maintaining supplier information, creating and issuing PO, processing invoices, ERP process, payment, and reporting.

In recent times, the regulatory compliance reinforced the process with documentation having separate duties and steps. This makes the process more tedious adding more regulators and auditors to monitor. The P2P is a line of convene where, raw data such as purchase request, order of goods are assembled to generate receipt paving way for further payments.

According to a recent study, more than 40% of the procure-to-pay (P2P) companies trust RPA to make a significant impact on manual processes that worked for ages.

Robotic process automation (RPA), as the industry experts describe is an emerging form of business process automation technology based on the notion of artificial intelligence or software robots.

In other words, it is about performing repetitive tasks like information or money transaction through computer-controlled tools without manual interventions or monitoring. We can implement RPA across various industries in different processes like insurance claim processing, procurement, and database maintenance, which are data-intensive in nature.

In organizations, RPA is used to automate the end-to-end procurement process without major investment by utilizing resources and automating manual tasks like

  • Planning requirements, collecting data, monitoring inventories, creating PO
  • Tracking resource utilization, expiry dates, payment dates and date of receiving goods
  • Strategizing approval workflow throughout processes
  • Managing and evaluating vendor or third party information
  • Automating and controlling request generation and closures

Strict rule-based and transactional procure-to-pay process benefits from the robotic process automation application. We use this to manage documents, identify mismatch, and reconcile accounts resulting in improved efficiency, less process time and cost-saving without risks.

Considering a real-time scenario where human resources access an enormous amount of emails every day by validating them and uploading them into the system. This tedious process in large companies consumes a lot of man-hours and still, the errors keep popping often. With the rise of RPA, organizations are able to execute the work quickly and accurately reducing manual efforts and errors.

While RPA is suitable for a process that does not require manual intervention or decision making, it is not ideal for a process involving decision making with volumes of data. This is when Cognitive automation comes into the picture to resolve it. It imitates human behavior to solve complex and unstructured data by extracting them into the system and further used by RPA for rule-based automation to help optimize works on a daily basis. It is a subset of artificial intelligence that uses advanced technology, machine learning, and programming knowledge to ease human’s decision-making process. It simply means the application of cognitive computing like data mining, natural language processing to the procurement process and replaces chain assistants, PO systems and supplier on-boarding process. Thus, with the help of Cognitive automation humans will just have to approve or change transaction records created by virtual machines.

This results in less consumption of time that allows the organization to spend more time on development strategy enabling the business to move faster like never before. The other benefits are

  • Cost reduction on e-mail management, quote processing
  • Improvement in compliance, business quality
  • Higher scalability and lower error rates
  • Strengthening regulatory tracking and reporting
  • Resolving invoice enquires and payment status
  • Quick response to market insights and supplier performance

A popular software company adapted RPA to automate their choked billing and payment process that often required human intervention. RPA helped reduce the intervention up to 95% and eventually led to a drastic decrease in the resolution time from 30 minutes to 90 seconds.

It is imperative to choose the right type of technology depending on the nature of the business. The Procure-to-pay world revolves around structured and unstructured data and RPA with cognitive automation is the ideal way to take businesses to the next level. With proper strategy, organizations can leverage RPA to automate procure-to-pay process and move further towards resolving complexities. Its favorable returns on cost-saving, efficiency, flexibility, and traceability make it inevitable for quality growth in Procure-to-pay departments.

Dhanwandhi Panneerselvam

Executive Research Analyst at Aspire Systems
She holds a Master degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering with specialization in Power Electronics and Drives. She is a passionate and an ardent writer who has earlier worked on write ups and several copies related to media. She spends her leisure time reading philosophical books and loves exploring new places & cuisines.