Integrating Purchasing and Payables

Report

November 13, 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

In most organizations, Procurement and Accounts Payable (AP) departments operate independently from one another for most of their respective process lifecycles. The departments’ teams conduct their business under different policies and have separate strategies for functioning efficiently. This siloed environment is partly due to their differing goals: Procurement tends to have more of an operational focus, while AP’s focus is financial. However, the two departments have more in common than is often acknowledged, as they both ultimately work to improve the health and strength of their organization’s cash flow and bottom line.

In any Procure-to-Pay (P2P) process, there comes a point when the Procurement department must pass on the purchase order (PO) and related documents to Accounts Payable, creating a point of natural synchronization. Although it is not necessarily the status quo, a more efficient way to run the back office is by expanding that synchronization to the entire P2P lifecycle, creating a place for AP in Procurement and a place for Procurement in AP. This can be accomplished by combining the two departments through a holistic and carefully planned integration initiative. By treating the teams as two unique but complementary parts of one whole, organizations can increase their control over spend, lower their costs, and improve their competitive advantage.

One of the best ways to begin this integration process is by implementing a holistic Procure-to-Pay software platform that automates purchasing and AP functions. Automating the two departments helps to ensure a more streamlined, efficient, and controlled integration than a manual initiative alone. P2P software platforms have built-in controls and advanced technical integration capabilities that make it simple for companies with many different internal teams, locations, and strategies to consolidate processes into one digital environment.

In order for organizations to successfully unite purchasing and payables, they should educate themselves on the risks and benefits of an integration project, as well as the support tools available to them to lower risk and increase efficiency. This report includes integration trends among North American purchasing and payables departments, a set of best practices that will help organizations build an integration initiative plan, and a high-level overview of P2P software.

Why Integrate?

There are several incentives for companies to integrate their Procurement and Accounting departments—and there are several reasons not to. The riskbenefit ratio will typically help determine if an organization should or should not integrate. Some of the benefits of integration include lower costs and higher savings. These are mostly associated with workflow—by shortening the time and steps necessary for purchasing, invoice management, and payment lifecycles, organizations reduce their processing costs. Faster cycles can also lead to increased discount capture through early-payment discounts. In some instances, companies can also save on labor costs, as they can consolidate certain roles within one department.

Another benefit of integration is increased visibility into spend and employee activity, which allows organizations to pinpoint maverick spend, fraudulent activity, or inefficient purchasing from noncompetitive or outdated vendor contracts. Bringing spend previously managed by two different teams under one umbrella allows companies much more control over that spend, and enables them to use their resources more strategically.

The risks of integration are mostly built upon the fear of change, and doubts of whether or not change can be implemented without disrupting the status quo and harming the company. Integration can create burdens on different teams and processes, including the IT department. Consolidating internal systems is a complex and time-consuming process, as Procurement and Finance teams are often using several different technologies even within their own departments. Consolidation creates a short-term stretch on IT, as it often warrants hiring additional labor to help with the process, such as IT consultants or integration specialists. Integrating can also be disruptive on Procurement, as many Procurement teams are used to having a certain degree of autonomy when it comes to their purchasing decisions.

Another risk of integration is the time it takes overall, and the effect this can have on supplier relationships and supply chain efficiency. Even a fairly simple and brief integration project can disrupt supplier and payment processes to some degree. The possibility that the project will hit unexpected difficulties that will draw it out is also a concern. A change in roles and activities could also disrupt long-standing routines and equilibriums, as differing management policies and ideologies can create some tension between departments forced to integrate. For example, a Procurement professional could be wary of involving new Finance contacts in an established, but sensitive, supplier relationship; while Accounting professionals could be resistant to giving Procurement members the power to weigh in on finance reports without years’ worth of context.

Despite these concerns, many organizations are heading toward a more integrated back-office environment for the cost savings, control over spend, and higher productivity integration brings. According to Levvel Research’s research, today’s organizations are typically not fully integrated, although the majority of organizations have some degree of integration or are headed in that direction. When asked to describe their current state, 33 percent of companies reported that they have common leadership but most of their functions are separate, while 31 percent reported they are completely separate, see Figure 1.

Figure 1

Organizations' P2P Process Integration

Most Organizations’ P2P Processes Are Not Fully Integrated

“How would you describe the process flow between Procurement, AP, and Payments?”


Levvel Research has found that the size of a company has a great effect on whether or not their purchasing and payables departments are integrated, see Figure 2. The revenue segment that is most likely to have completely integrated Procurement and Accounting departments includes those in the upper middle market ($500 million-$2 billion), followed by smaller organizations (less than $100 million). Levvel Research believes this is partly because both revenue segments hit something of a sweet spot. Smaller companies tend to operate under more consolidated processes naturally; some only have a handful of employees operating their back-office departments. Therefore, consolidation in simpler and less of a strain on their resources. Organizations in the upper middle market, on the other hand, are just large enough to have the resources for integration projects and just small enough that these projects do not cause great internal disruption. Companies in the upper middle market are also more likely to be using P2P automation software, which helps to streamline integration.

Figure 2

Level of Integration by Revenue

Organizations in the Upper Middle Market Are Most Likely to Have Full Integration

“How would you describe the process flow between Procurement, AP, and Payments?” & “What is your organization’s annual revenue in the most recent 12-month reporting period?”



Figure 3

Level of Integration by Industry

Organizations in Professional Services Are Most Likely to Have Full Integration

“How would you describe the process flow between Procurement, AP, and Payments?” & “Please select the standard industry description that best fits your organization.”


Organizations with more than $2 billion in revenue are least likely to have integrated departments. This can be attributed to the great deal of effort such projects would require, including restructuring processes across multiple divisions and locations, and consolidating the numerous technical systems on which large organizations typically operate.

Industry also plays a role in an organization’s purchasing and payables integration, see Figure 3. Manufacturing and healthcare organizations report the highest rates of completely segregated departments, which can be attributed to the widespread nature of their operations, the complicated supply chain environments in which they operate, and the higher amount of direct spend— particularly for manufacturing. In addition, both industries have been historically slow to adopt finance technology and are more likely to have completely manual back-office departments, which slows integration initiatives. On the other hand, education and professional services are both leading industries when it comes to technology adoption, as they both tend to have more straightforward P2P processes with lower amounts of direct spend.

An additional major benefit of integrating Procurement and AP is the increased efficiency it brings. For example, Figure 4 shows that the amount of integration organizations have between their Procurement and Payables departments has a direct effect on how quickly they are able to approve purchase requisitions. In this survey, there were no companies with completely integrated departments that reported requisition approval times as more than one week. These short approval times help to condense the entire invoice-to-payment lifecycle, and can lead to millions of dollars in annual savings in both lower processing costs and early-payment discount capture.

Figure 4

Purchase Requisition Approval Times by Level of Integration

Integrated Purchasing and Payables Leads to Shorter Requisition Approval Times

"How would you describe the process flow between Procurement, AP, and Payments?” & “What is your organization’s average requisition approval time?”


Companies can also improve efficiency by automating their Procurement and AP departments. P2P software creates a wide range of process improvements, including lower processing costs and increased control and visibility into spend, see Figures 5 and 6.

Figure 5

Top Improvements Gained Through Invoice Automation



Figure 6

Improvements Gained Through Procurement Automation

Organizations Achieve Improvements in Control, Visibility, and Efficiency with P2P Automation

“Which of the following improvements have you seen in your procurement process since implementing a solution?” & “Which of the following improvements have you seen in your invoice management process since implementing a solution?”


When companies leverage P2P software and integrate their P2P processes simultaneously, they are better able to achieve scalable, streamlined, and lowrisk integration. The following section further explores the role P2P automation plays in Procurement and Payables consolidation.

Integrating with Procure-to-Pay Automation

A P2P software suite typically includes automation for the entire back-office lifecycle of requisitioning, purchasing, receiving, invoice management, and payments. Today’s P2P solutions create an open and collaborative environment in back-office departments, allowing Procurement and AP managers to maintain consistent communication with staff, suppliers, and the company’s stakeholders in real time. They improve employees’ productivity, reduce time spent on non-value-added tasks, and enable executive members of an organization to strategically manage spend. P2P software also unites different teams and visions, giving all parties visibility into spend management activity without sacrificing different members’ control. A P2P solution is one of the best ways to build enthusiasm for an integration initiative and ensure its success.

The following items showcase some of the features of P2P solutions, as well as how an organization can use P2P software to help streamline integration. P2P software:

  • Connects multiple systems, teams, and locations. Integrating purchasing and payables processes across existing processes and systems can be challenging, especially for older and/or larger companies with multiple locations using many different systems. However, today’s P2P software is built on cloudbased technology that allows companies to connect to the same platform across many teams and locations. The platform leverages the same data across all instances of the solution and provides real-time access to that data. The solution’s integration tools make it easy to plug the system into even the most complicated IT infrastructure. Many software providers also have teams of integration specialists to help IT configuration during implementation, as well as process reengineering consultants to help structure current operations around more efficient, technology-based processes. In all, P2P software allows companies to combine their departments much more easily across their complex current state.

  • Builds control and safeguards between the two departments. P2P software has built-in, roles-based controls that enable the departments to collaborate on different P2P documents and activities without risking the integrity of the process—or sensitive customer and financial data. These controls cover a wide range of spend activities and P2P documents. For example, the solution can ensure certain users do not purchase an item above a certain spend threshold, or it can alert users to missing fields before they submit a PO. P2P software can also confirm that invoices have POs and automatically check invoice data against those POs for inaccuracies. Access-based controls ensure that even though multiple parties are using the same system, only those with the proper authority and role will be able to perform certain functions (e.g., only an AP manager can approve invoices). All of these controls reduce maverick spend, document errors, and process delays, as well as the need for AP to remonstrate or report purchasers, or track down the correct information or documents in order to approve a payment.

  • Enables communication. P2P software includes built-in messaging capabilities that enable the two departments to easily and quickly resolve purchasing, invoice, and payment issues. For example, if an AP manager needs clarification on the initial purchase before approving an invoice, they can immediately reach out to the original requestor and/or procurement manager through a chat box. Sometimes users can gain answers in minutes, without even having to leave their desk. Automation also gives Procurement more visibility into the order lifecycle than they would have under a manual system. They can monitor the order in real time from requisition to receiving, correcting issues as they arise and reducing or eliminating discrepancies that the AP department would have had to sort out afterward.

  • Consolidates overlapping information. Because P2P software leverages the same spend data across all P2P processes, the solutions give departments an opportunity to consolidate, clean up, and optimize that data. For example, teams can improve their supplier management by streamlining vendor master lists, standardizing onboarding strategies, and consolidating supplierrelated documents. They can also merge supplier dispute management into one system under one team via the supplier self-service portal and help desk. P2P software’s consolidation benefits also improve data sharing across different roles. Under a separate system, Procurement and AP professionals must track each other down for certain information housed in separate places, such as an original purchase requisition for an invoice or a history of past supplier payments. With a P2P solution, access to information can be made available to anyone with the proper authority, and a request for information beyond their access is as simple as a direct message.

  • Brings more spend under management. Integrating purchasing and payables departments with a P2P automation solution helps organizations not only consolidate spend, but also allows them to get more spend under management than they would with a manual, segregated processes. This change is especially valuable for CFOs, as it gives them a chance to restructure spend categories and optimize their company’s cash flow. It also allows organizations to identify inefficient purchasing strategies or supplier contracts and catch fraudulent spending.

Kicking Off an Integration Initiative

The list below contains a few best practices for professionals pushing for purchasing and payables integration in their organization.

Gather All Stakeholders.

As previously stated, fear of change can create a lot of resistance to an integration initiative and undermine its success. To prevent potential problems, a Procurement and AP department integration should be acknowledged and openly discussed whenever possible. Those pushing for integration should bring all stakeholders to the table, even those in lower positions in the company. While employees in a procurement requestor or AP clerk role may not necessarily have a final say in the decision to integrate, their enthusiasm for an initiative can add strength to a push for integration.

Get Executive Buy-In.

Even though all voices are important, it is still ultimately up to the C-suite to agree to and begin an integration initiative. Those pushing for integration can gain their enthusiasm and support in several ways. The first is to build a business case that includes a current state assessment and an estimate of improvements and savings possible with integration. Practitioners presenting the business case should also highlight the value of integration as it benefits the C-suite directly. One major benefit is the increased visibility into spend data the C-suite will achieve with integrated departments, which will enable them to make more strategic financial decisions. Practitioners should also present improvements possible with P2P software adoption. They can do so with return on investment (ROI) assessment tools, such as those found in Levvel Research’s recent Pitching ROI for Accounts Payable report.

Get Ideas from Everyone and at All Levels.

It is important to gather feedback from all parties on how the initiative would affect them; this feedback can be used to build out and adjust the integration plan. It is often the case that the C-suite has little insight into the day-to-day challenges experienced by P2P professionals, and all parties and voices should be considered and valued in order for an integration initiative to be successful. Organizations should also encourage new attitudes among employees in regard to how they perceive and approach integration. They can do this by properly educating their workforce on how integrated processes will make their jobs more enjoyable.

Try to Find Other Problems that Can Be Solved at the Same Time.

This involves readjusting a variety of processes and strategies, including workflows, management approaches, and communication techniques. It also entails adjusting staff behavior by changing current methodologies that are not as efficient as possible and adjusting how employees interact with each other, especially considering the different mindsets typically found across the two departments. Practitioners should try to identify any current state problems early on, during their initial interviews with different parties. This way, they can turn the problems into goals and pitch them along with the initial integration project.

It is especially important to identify current state issues if an organization plans to implement P2P software during their integration project. A P2P solution is only as effective as the processes it integrates; when an organization’s Procurement and Payables departments are dysfunctional, they will not be able to get the most out of their solution.

Consider Hiring External Help.

Organizations do not have to begin a complicated integration initiative alone— they can seek help from the experts. Levvel Research offers several consulting services that benefit back-office integration, including current state assessments, recommendations for improvement, process reengineering, and software selection. For more information, visit Levvel Research’s consulting webpage.

Consider the P2P Software Provider’s Experience.

Organizations hoping to leverage P2P automation in their integration initiative should consider the solution provider’s experience. This means finding a provider that has previously worked with companies to integrate their backoffice departments and has support options in place to help clients streamline this process. For example, during implementation some providers offer special integration experts dedicated to helping clients reengineer their current P2P process flows. The provider should also be able to help realign existing processes according to the client’s unique business requirements, including across different systems and locations.

The following profiles highlight the features of a few leading Procure-to-Pay providers. Each of these providers has a track record of helping clients create a more integrated and streamlined P2P process in their back office.

Determine

Determine is a global provider of P2P and Source-to-Settle (S2S) solutions with more than 15 years of experience working with organizations of all sizes and industries. Determine offers a suite of Procure-to-Pay applications on the Determine Cloud Platform (DCP) that helps companies optimize, streamline, and automate their Procurement and AP processes. The platform includes the following modular applications: supplier management, procurement, invoice management, and sourcing and contract management. Determine also offers tools for budgeting, projects, inventory, asset, and travel and expense management.

Founded1996 (as Selectica; renamed Determine in 2015)
HeadquartersCarmel (Indianapolis), Indiana
Other Locations Atlanta, GA; London, England; Paris, France; Aix-enProvence, France
Number of Employees160+
Number of Customers290
Target VerticalsFinance, Retail, Manufacturing, BioTech / Pharmaceutical
Partners / ResellersAeroxchange, A.T. Kearney, Proximity, TPG
Awards / Recognitions Spend Matters, “Top 50 Providers to Know” 2015, 2016, and 2017; CFO TechOutlook, Top 10 Accounts Payable Solution Providers 2017; CIO Review, 20 Most Promising Enterprise Contract Management Solution Providers 2016

Solution Overview

The Determine Cloud Platform is built on the Determine Core, a technical foundation that provides a baseline for managing key areas such as metadata, master data, and business processes, and enables many business and technical components on the platform. Key among these components is the Decision Rules Engine for operationalizing business event patterns based on workflow, events, or predictive (statistical) models, and combining them with contextual information. Another important feature is the built-in Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) for integrating with popular ERPs and other data sources. The solution currently supports all currencies and is available in more than 20 languages.

Determine’s procurement and invoice management modules include multiple options for entering invoices into the system, including eInvoicing, invoicescanning with optical character recognition (OCR) technology, and PO and receipt flip to invoice. All functionality is integrated, leveraging an intuitive user workflow that starts with the requisition and ends with the payment, and includes the PO, goods receipt, and tax accounting. Determine also offers extensive procurement contract compliance support, catalog management capabilities, and budgeting features. Determine’s solution is also designed to support projectbased procurement efforts, and includes features for different types of project budgets (Capex, Opex), project templates, and extensive project workflow capabilities.

The solution includes a complete audit trail of all process activity between purchasing and payables teams. The solution’s integration with existing ERPs, accounting systems, and the rest of the DCP system enables AP departments to manage accruals, entries, and other accounting activities with real-time visibility into correlating PO lifecycles, contracts, and supplier information and performance.

Determine also offers a virtual purchasing contract functionality that allows organizations to set up automatic matching and recurring payments for certain invoices. These matches (between contract, invoice, and receipt) are verified against predefined rules to ensure the invoices are not duplicates and that the payments are valid and accurate. The system will automatically push invoices back to the appropriate purchasing members when matching is not possible, which helps reduce the time AP has to spend on resolving discrepancies.

Determine’s self-service supplier portal enables suppliers to engage with their customers through integrated P2P capabilities on the Determine Business Network. Supplier tools include certification management and catalog management. The portal contains dispute management capabilities, which helps clients identify supplier issues and provides the information needed to resolve them. Supplier information for all P2P processes are housed on the same platform, as is access to the supplier dispute management features.

The Reporting Generator offers reporting and analytics across the platform and gives users access to preconfigured key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards, allowing them to develop custom reports across all data and meta-data sets (assets, contracts, catalogs, general ledger, organizational data, procurement, receipts, suppliers, travel and expense, etc.). It also allows users to see into and create reports around process workflows (action plans, traceability, and workflows) across the entire Determine Cloud Platform.

Implementation and Pricing

A Determine solution implementation typically takes up to three months to complete. After implementation, application support includes phone- and emailbased error resolution and technical troubleshooting; and standard support is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST (excluding holidays). Determine’s pricing structure is based on the complexity of the client’s organization (number of countries or companies), the solution modules being implemented, and the number of named users in the application. This pricing can be presented either a la carte or bundled.

GEP

GEP is a procurement technology developer with more than 15 years of experience in deploying Procure-to-Pay and Source-to-Settle solutions. With its P2P/S2S platform, SMART by GEP®, the company has made it possible for all tasks in the purchasing and payables processes to be carried out in one system and from any device. The unified platform is designed to automate and accelerate the management of a strategic indirect spend program, with automation for spend management, procurement, sourcing, contract management, order management, supplier self-service, and invoice processing.

Founded1999
HeadquartersClark, NJ
Other LocationsLondon, England; Prague; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China; Costa Rica; Mexico City, Mexico
Number of Employeesc. 2,600
Number of Customers200
Target VerticalsAll

Solution Overview

SMART by GEP is a highly secure, cloud-native procurement platform developed on the Microsoft Azure cloud. All of GEP’s development, data handling, and operational facilities and systems are certified to SSAE16 standards. GEP uses a web-based methodology to integrate with its customers’ third-party systems. The solution is mobile-native and works on any browser and platform.

SMART by GEP’s procurement offering covers requisitioning, PO management, receiving, and reconciliation. The solution features many types of purchasing catalogs, including punch-out, supplier-hosted, managed, and internal (buyerside managed). The solution offers multivariable and multistage requisition approval workflows with failover, delegation, and escalation controls. SMART by GEP also includes advanced accounting code management features that automate and streamline coding functions, based on configurable business rules, from the very beginning of the requisition process.

Purchase requisitions are flipped into orders upon approval, and the POs can then be processed through additional workflows, if necessary. POs are submitted directly to the suppliers through the SMART by GEP portal or through direct integration with the suppliers’ systems.

The platform’s accounts payable functionality allows users to handle all P2P documents in one place. SMART by GEP natively accepts invoices originating from suppliers through its portal. SMART by GEP also integrates with supplier systems for the purpose of order and invoice transmission using EDI and/or cXML standards.

After invoice submission, GEP’s platform and Invoice Reconciliation solution conduct field-level matching based on business rules, automatic rerouting of incorrect invoices back to suppliers, and PO flip on validated invoices. Due to SMART by GEP’s comprehensive platform, the matching function can handle requisition, order, delivery note, receipt, and invoice matches. The platform also provides compliance tools to match invoices to contracted prices or prices bid at the sourcing stage. GEP’s Invoice Reconciliation features allow for the routing, revision, matching, and management of invoices that fail automatic matching.

SMART by GEP includes access to the GEP supplier network for customers that wish to have access to a global supplier base. To address suppliers that are not yet registered with the platform, GEP offers a managed supplier onboarding service tailored to each customer’s need. With SMART by GEP, suppliers have access to the platform’s entire P2P offerings, as well as a robust set of supplier self-service and B2B collaboration tools. This includes profile management, certificate management, procurement catalog information management, and the ability to handle order-to-invoice processes. The portal also gives the buyer’s internal Purchasing and Payables teams access to the same supplier information, including the same reports on supplier behavior and status.

SMART by GEP is built upon a data warehouse model for reporting and dashboards, providing the end user with access to all data across the procurement landscape. Its reporting services include dashboards and drag-anddrop, ad hoc reporting functionality that allow users to create reports based on any parameter captured within the system. Users can generate custom reports, which can then be added to the dashboard, viewed in graphical format, exported in multiple formats, and scheduled at a desired frequency. The platform also supports customization of dashboard views per individual users’ requirements.

Implementation and Pricing

Implementation of SMART by GEP solutions includes configuration to the client’s business processes and robust customer support to drive end-user adoption. Post-implementation, GEP provides phone and web-based support. GEP’s global customer support staff is based out of three regions (U.S., Europe, and Asia Pacific) and is available 24x5.

SMART by GEP is an annual subscription-based service priced on a function-byfunction basis, largely according to the number of users of each function for each year of the contract. The different factors considered for pricing include number and type of users, interface languages, contract and template configuration requirement, and support services.

Paramount WorkPlace

Paramount WorkPlace develops, sells, and supports advanced web-based and native mobile requisitioning, procurement, and expense solutions for mid-market organizations across a range of industries, worldwide. The user interface offers flexible Procure-to-Pay automation and robust expense reporting that is easy to use for employees, effective for management, and powerful for accounting.

Founded1995
HeadquartersMetro Detroit, MI
Other Locations Washington, Georgia, Virginia; Ontario and British Columbia, Canada
Number of Employees35-50
Number of Customers750 customers, 131,000 users
Target VerticalsProfessional Services, Sports, Entertainment, Hospitality, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical, Government, Nonprofit, Education, Utilities, Agriculture, Telecommunications, Public Transportation
Partners / ResellersRSM, Professional Advantage, Tribridge, BDO Canada
Awards / RecognitionsPresident’s Club for Microsoft Dynamics; Blackbaud Financial Edge and NXT Procurement Platform of Choice; Microsoft Gold Development Partner; Sage Gold Development Partner

Solution Overview

Paramount WorkPlace has more than 22 years of experience with spend management solutions. In that time, the company has built a wealth of knowledge developing, implementing and supporting solutions that help to streamline the process flow between Procurement and AP. The Paramount WorkPlace solution can be deployed in Software as a Service (SaaS)/cloudbased, hosted, and on-premise environments. It is offered as a stand-alone solution as well as a certified extension of many leading ERPs. The company offers out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Dynamics (GP, NAV, SL, and AX), Blackbaud (Financial Edge and Financial Edge NXT), Sage (100, 100c, 300, 300c, 500), Intacct, and NetSuite via ERP-specific APIs. For system security, the solution leverages role-based controls and several industry-driven authentication protocols including SSO (Single Sign On), SQL, SQLShared, NT, NTShared, Forms, and App.

Paramount WorkPlace’s solution can be configured to different types of users, roles, departments, and vendor marketplaces. Internal WorkPlace catalogs and punch-out capabilities allow requestors to search for indirect goods through an intuitive and familiar shopping cart experience, as well as a traditional transaction-style interface.

Built to support accounting considerations during the purchasing process, the solution can default financial coding for GL accounts and financial dimensions at the line-item level, and can process both PO and non-PO requests. It offers cost controls that integrate with and help enforce organizations’ budgets, vendor contracts, and project rules, as well as an automated tax engine for effective financial integration and reporting.

Supporting centralized purchasing across multiple locations, the solution allows users to request, enter, and process transactions under the same controls companywide. This capability allows organizations to better contain and control indirect spending whether their processes are centralized or decentralized. Linelevel multi-company and inter-company capabilities provide a single centralized procurement portal for larger organizations to integrate with multiple entities in their ERP.

Purchasing approvers can approve requests within the application, on their mobile device, or from notification emails. The solution’s robust independent parallel, line-level approval engine offers unlimited approval levels and paths. Built-in collaboration tools include email notifications, web form questionnaires, delegation, automated escalation rules, ad hoc approval routing, and logged communication notes throughout the approval workflow. Depending on an organization’s preferences, POs can be automatically generated and issued to vendors upon approval, or reviewed and consolidated by central purchasing teams. The solution also includes full PO and change order management. Document retention, revision number tracking, quantity status, and a detailed audit log are available for every PO line and for users involved throughout the purchasing lifecycle.

Paramount WorkPlace’s solution offers multiple user-tailored receiving options, including filtered desktop receiving, one-click PO receipt, and detailed transaction entry. Users can be automatically notified when their requests have been fulfilled, unmatched invoices have been received, or their expected orders are not received by the specified delivery date. Upon receipt of an order, the solution supports both 2- and 3-way matching with automatic purchasing accruals that can be integrated at the GL journal level. Invoice exceptions automatically initiate preconfigured approval workflows.

Company suppliers have a no-fee, self-service vendor portal with automatic PO notifications, the ability to submit request for quotation (RFQ) responses, and purchase order/non-purchase order invoices. Suppliers can manage their own contact information, and the system automatically syncs approved changes with the client’s associated ERP.

With more than 70 out-of-the-box printed reports, dashboard charts, and metrics that cover all P2P modules, Paramount WorkPlace’s solution also includes ad hoc reporting capabilities and an optional Dashboard Metrics and Reports engine that allows customers to add unlimited custom reports and dashboards.

Implementation and Pricing

Implementation of the Paramount WorkPlace solution will vary depending on the organizational size and the licensed solution. The typical go-live duration is 60-90 days. One-to-one comprehensive training, department-wide training, as well as training workshops and on-demand custom training are offered by Paramount WorkPlace and authorized resellers. Customers are offered unlimited support, including technical support via toll-free phone, email, or chat, and access to an online customer center with learning materials.

Pricing structures entail a perpetual annual license or monthly SaaS payments.

Unimarket

Unimarket was founded in 2005 by a team of supply chain and technology experts focused on providing a simple and easy-to-use software allowing organizations to bring all of their procurement into one place. Today, Unimarket provides a unified platform of comprehensive spend management tools incorporating sourcing, procurement, and payment. In North America, the company primarily serves midsize customers in higher education. In Asia Pacific (APAC), it assists midsize and large customers in higher education, government, healthcare, and banking.

Solution Overview

The Unimarket platform automates many of the activities that take place within Procurement and Accounts Payable departments, and helps to synchronize these teams and processes. The solution integrates with multiple ERPs including Oracle, PeopleSoft, Ellucian (Banner and Colleague), Blackbaud, Microsoft Great Plains, and TechnologyOne. Unimarket has both application and server environment security actions in place. Some of the system controls include user authentication and authorization, password hashing, security configuration, and data encryption in transit and at rest. System security measures include network restrictions, firewalls, antivirus software, quarterly vulnerability scans, and disaster recovery protocols.

Unimarket eProcurement includes both hosted and punch-out catalogs. Users can select products or services to add to a shopping cart by searching suppliermaintained catalogs, defining non-catalog products, or selecting winning responses to quick RFQs. Both catalog types are fully integrated with the Supplier Marketplace.

Upon checkout, the Unimarket solution creates a purchase requisition. Users can code requisitions for billing and shipping, assign account codes, and send a delegated workflow approval, which can be customized based on customer business requirements. Purchase orders can be created from approved requisitions and electronically dispatched to suppliers using email or directly to the supplier system through integration. The solution’s receiving capabilities include blanket order management support and the ability to confirm orders at the header or line level. These features provide for greater control within the procurement process and enable 3-way matching.

The Unimarket Supplier Marketplace has almost 20,000 registered suppliers and approximately 250 premium service suppliers. An integrated component of the company’s procurement solution, it provides suppliers with a web portal to manage their company business information, catalogs, orders, quotes, invoicing, and bid responses. Supplier registration includes the collection of key company details, insurance certifications, MWBE classifications, and tax information, as well as additional metadata and marketing information. Unimarket provides complimentary support and training to any supplier needing assistance with registration, responding to bids, setting up a catalog, or completing integration and testing.

To meet the varying needs of suppliers, Unimarket provides several options for processing invoices. Suppliers can integrate with the system to send cXML eInvoices, flip POs to invoices from the Supplier Marketplace, or send invoices to the Invoice Inbox. The Invoice Inbox is a dedicated email address Unimarket establishes for each customer where invoices are received, reviewed, and matched to orders. This feature uses OCR to scan and extract data from invoices and automatically align invoices with POs for review and matching. After matching, Unimarket supports customizable invoice routing, exception management, and approval workflow.

Unimarket Payments provides customers with an integrated payment capability that supports ACH, virtual card, wire transfer, and cross-border payments, and includes check print-and-mail services. Suppliers can adjust their electronic payment and remittance delivery preferences in their Supplier Marketplace profile in order to receive electronic payments. The company also provides supplier outreach and support services to convert suppliers from receiving checks to receiving electronic payments.

Unimarket provides various reports, as well as two reporting dashboards—Procurement and Performance—which provide visual representations of spend data and offer insight into trends across the P2P process.

Implementation and Pricing

Unimarket implementation is typically accomplished in 8-12 weeks. The company conducts on-site and virtual train-the-trainer sessions to educate customers on how to most effectively use the platform. It also provides training materials and assists in customizing materials that align to customer-specific configurations made to incorporate internal policies and procedures.

From the onset of any project, the Unimarket implementation team meets with members from Procurement and Accounts Payable, as well as IT and any other key positions, to determine collective needs and understand current processes. Unimarket is able to assess disparity and missed opportunities for efficiency, and provide best-practice recommendations for streamlining processes. The team also ensures that all participants remain well informed during implementation and aware of how automated processes will flow through the organization.

Post-implementation, Unimarket provides customers with a dedicated account manager for long-term support as well as access to its support team via help desk ticketing, email, and phone. Pricing includes fixed annual subscription charges (unlimited users and suppliers) and fixed upfront implementation and integration charges based on customer-specific technical requirements.

About Levvel Research

Levvel Research, formerly PayStream Advisors, is a research and advisory firm that operates within the IT consulting company, Levvel. Levvel Research is focused on many areas of innovative technology, including business process automation, DevOps, emerging payment technologies, full-stack software development, mobile application development, cloud infrastructure, and content publishing automation. Levvel Research’s team of experts provide targeted research content to address the changing technology and business process needs of competitive organizations across a range of verticals. In short, Levvel Research is dedicated to maximizing returns and minimizing risks associated with technology investment. Levvel Research’s reports, white papers, webinars, and tools are available free of charge at www.levvel.io

Disclaimer

All Research Reports produced by Levvel Research are a collection of Levvel Research’s professional opinions and are based on Levvel Research’s reasonable efforts to compile and analyze, in Levvel Research’s sole professional opinion, the best sources reasonably available to Levvel Research at any given time. Any opinions reflect Levvel Research’s judgment at the time and are subject to change. Anyone using this report assumes sole responsibility for the selection and / or use of any and all content, research, publications, materials, work product or other item contained herein. As such Levvel Research does not make any warranties, express or implied, with respect to the content of this Report, including, without limitation, those of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Levvel Research shall not be liable under any circumstances or under any theory of law for any direct, indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages, including without limitation, damages for lost profits, business failure or loss, arising out of use of the content of the Report, whether or not Levvel Research has been advised of the possibility of such damages and shall not be liable for any damages incurred arising as a result of reliance upon the content or any claim attributable to errors, omissions or other inaccuracies in the content or interpretations thereof.

Authored By

Anna Barnett

Research Senior Manager

RECOMMENDED CONTENT

The Increasing ROI of Spend Management Automation

Report

2020 Payables Insight Report

Report

Source-to-Settle Tools and Topics: What to Watch in 2020

Blog

Meet our Experts

Anna Barnett
Research Senior Manager

Anna Barnett is a Research Senior Manager for Levvel Research. She manages Levvel's team of analysts and all research content delivery, and helps lead research development strategy for the firm's many technology focus areas. Anna joined Levvel through the acquisition of PayStream Advisors, and for the past several years has served as an expert in several facets of business process automation software. She also covers digital transformation trends and technology, including around DevOps strategy, design systems, application development, and cloud migration. Anna has extensive experience in research-based analytical writing and editing, as well as sales and marketing content creation.

Related Content

The Increasing ROI of Spend Management Automation

This guide explores the potential ROI of automating core Procure-to-Pay processes and enabling a remote workforce for the new business environment.

Report

Jul 08

2020 Payables Insight Report

Organizations of all sizes are incorporating automation in their back office, and this has driven a wide variety of AP automation tool types and an increasingly competitive assortment of software providers.

Report

Apr 01

Let's chat.

You're doing big things, and big things come with big challenges. We're here to help.

Access the Report

By clicking the button below you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

levvel mark white

Let's improve the world together.

levvel-mark-mint

© Levvel 2020