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Evolution of a Purchase to Pay Scientist

by Jamie Radford

A reflective mood took over me recently (probably something to do with me hitting 40 later this year!), that had me debating with someone about the merits of having a qualification vs work experience. I never went to uni. I opted for the University of Life (well, I really just wanted to get to work and start earning after school, so I could buy shoes). Anyway, it started with me reflecting on how different my life would have been had I gone to university. I would have probably ended up studying English or Drama or something else that has nothing to do with the career that reeled me in – Purchase to Pay.

If you read any of my other articles, you will realise I am a P2P geek. Despite not making a conscious decision to make a career in this field, I have managed to find a way to make it work out well for me. I have had a series of roles that have challenged, excited and inspired me. Despite having the attention span of a fish, P2P has me hook, line and sinker. Why? Because I have witnessed evolution:

  • Late 90’s – 3 way match was a staple holding together paper documents: PO, delivery note, invoice
  • Mid 00’s – 3 way match was now systematised with a person processing invoices and matching to a PO receipt
  • Late 00’s – We now had EDI data flowing into a system and auto matching
  • 2010s – Robots!!!! Well, robotic process automation, but wow robots!

And alongside this evolution, Bought Ledger became Purchase Ledger then Accounts Payable and now Purchase to Pay.

No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoiseLewis Carroll.

So what’s our purpose now we don’t have to sit inputting invoices day after day, how should we use our time? Easy … data, data, data. There is so much of it within our process! Oodles and oodles of data to cut, splice, analyse and use to identify improvements and form strategy.

So I put to  you my theory… Can our clerks become scientists?

Wikipedia Definition of Science

a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions

The theory of P2P Science:

  • Understanding the buying behaviour of your business and being able to identify efficiency and saving opportunities
  • Analysing KPI data to drive process efficiency
  • Gathering and organising supplier master data
  • Analysing process steps, turnaround times, query reasons, supplier first time match rates and making everything better, faster, cheaper

Why can’t all this data at our hands be presented and used to help with business strategy?

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the streamMalcom Muggeridge.

So is now the time to swim against the tide of belief that P2P is purely a transactional function? It’s not accountancy, it’s not purchasing, it’s not customer service. So can it be a science?

This guest blog was written by Samantha Ryan


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