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Purchase to Pay Network Survey: What are the most important results? Find out here.

The Purchase to Pay Network (PPN) is a community network of over 15,000 finance, procurement, shared services and supply chain professionals across multiple industries. They have just released the annual PPN survey, which includes some interesting insights into P2P today. One overarching theme ran throughout that got us thinking: Automation.
A person takes a survey on a tablet, to signify the PPN Survey

The PPN Survey – What’s important to us in P2P right now?

According to the 2023 PPN Survey, our common challenges centre on the constant improvement of our team performance. From measuring the right metrics to eradicating duplicate payments, to implementing new technology. It’s clear that process optimisation is key, and with it, automation.

In fact, 43% of survey respondents said that choosing the right technology is a main issue facing P2P. Furthermore, 47% cited implementing new technology. It’s clear that for many in finance, the focus is to keep up with emerging tools that can improve efficiency.

Automation is on the rise.

Speaking of keeping up, generative AI has been a huge talking point this year. Interest in software like ChatGPT, and Dall-E hit a high back in April, according to Google trends. It’s staying top of mind with businesses too. Now, 16% of UK businesses use at least one AI technology in their day-to-day*. Many of us use AI without even realising – Chatbots, Siri and Alexa are all examples of widely used AI.

With this onus on taking technology to a whole new level, automation is becoming mainstream, and we see this reflected in the survey results.

There was an increase in automation levels of more than 5% compared with last year. When asked what percentage of their invoices were processed manually, over half the respondents cited 20% or less. With continued e-invoicing mandates in the EU and overseas, and with the public sector leading the way here in the UK, this could increase. As many organisations work with overseas suppliers, it seems only a matter of time until we process all invoices electronically.

What does this mean for the future of P2P?

This move to automation frees up time and resource. It’s changing the way we work. We’re progressing to where our teams are using technology to complete time-consuming manual tasks like data entry and statement reconciliation. Instead, they’re being proactive; getting more payments out the door, more assets ordered and more exceptions corrected. As a result, finance teams are providing more value to the organisation.

But we’re not quite there yet. 2% of survey respondents are still processing their invoices manually. 46% said they process 50% or more of their invoices manually. While our processes are improving, the road to automation is rocky.

Barriers vary in preventing finance teams from adopting more automation to their processing. From not understanding the solutions to supplier adoption and lack of resources. But at 40%, ROI concerns was the highest barrier.

With 29% of respondents also citing lack of budget as one of the barriers, it’s easy to see how difficult it can be to realise these changes.

Managing the implementation of this technology can also be a daunting task. You’ll contend with legacy systems, multiple ERPs and various supplier portals. Once implemented, your processes will change dramatically. You’ll need to hone them ensure effective use of your solution.

To help with these issues, we recommend you define clear goals, and learn everything you can about the solutions available to you. This includes how they can integrate into your existing processes. If this will cause disruption of your processes, a risk management technology like our solution will help ensure that your transactions have fewer errors.

Image of the 2023 PPN survey front cover
Read the PPN Survey 2023 for a closer look at these results.

Finance teams are taking a collaborative approach

The PPN Survey also revealed some interesting collaboration statistics. We’re moving away from siloed working and into a more collaborative approach. This means more transparency, more oversight of the P2P process and more technology use.

We are creating teams that work better together, combining Suppliers, Procurement and AP. The survey showed that different areas of P2P were working together most of the time or all the time, amounting for 71% of respondents.

While 33% of survey respondents said that centralising systems was a main issue facing P2P, this shift towards teamwork means that collaborative processes will already be in place when those systems are live.

Staff numbers are lower

The report talks about fewer staff than last year. We know that staff shortage is a huge problem in the industry, but what if low staff numbers are due to other factors too? 16% of respondents said staff reduction was a problem, for example. We can speculate that inflation and the enduring effects of the pandemic are contributing factors.

A side effect of automation is that one person now can do the job of three. So, the finance team doesn’t need to be as large for the same amount of work. While we don’t know if there is a correlation, we do know that staff numbers are continuing to dwindle, and that automation can support this. For overworked staff this change is helpful, but new jobseekers will find fewer opportunities available to them.

What have we learnt from the PPN Survey?

Key takeaways from the PPN Survey included ‘the rise of the “one office” mindset’ and the ‘golden age of AI’. PPN expects the future to move into ‘hyperautomation, eInvoicing and tightening compliance regulations’. It’s looking hopeful for finance teams though. They can be more agile, provide more value, and can do more with the resources they have.

Purchase to Pay Network and the PPN Survey

The Purchase to Pay Network (PPN) is a trusted community network of over 15,000 finance, procurement, shared services and supply chain professionals across multiple industries. With daily updates, weekly roundups, a monthly newsletter, webinars, reports and surveys, roundtable events, annual summit and awards, PPN provides a fantastic networking opportunity. It’s also an informational hub for the latest finance, supply chain and technology developments.

The PPN Annual Survey is derived from a study of senior influencers and decision makers involved with Procure to Pay, Finance, procurement and the supply chain. It asks about the main challenges facing P2P, trends and more.

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