Redefining P2P – Improving your purchasing strategy

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Purchase to Pay (P2P) is an essential cogwheel of any business reliant on suppliers and service providers to operate. How smoothly it works will directly affect both your operational efficiency and overall profitability. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to make sure that it’s optimized and efficient at all times, and founded on a solid purchasing strategy.

Before delving into the specifics of optimizing the P2P cycle, it’s essential to understand the broader context of purchasing strategy and planning. A well-defined purchasing strategy involves far more than just getting the best goods for the lowest price. A good strategy also involves aligning purchasing activities with overall business goals, fostering supplier relationships, considering environmental impact, and mitigating risks.

Types of purchasing strategies

There are several different approaches to laying a solid purchasing strategy, each with its pros and cons. Understanding the different kinds of strategies can help you put together a purchasing strategy that aligns with the overall goals of your business. Usually, a hybrid approach where several of these different strategies are being put to use, is the most appropriate way to balance cost, value, and strategic alignment.

  • Cost Leadership:
    Cost leadership is all about achieving the lowest cost of services or production. Focusing on this strategy involves considering prices and total cost of ownership (TCO), negotiating favorable terms with vendors and suppliers, and optimizing the operational processes.
  • Differentiation of products and services:
    Differentiation of products and services is about obtaining unique products or services that set your business apart from others. This strategy involves collaborating closely with suppliers to innovate and create distinctive offerings.
  • Value:
    A value-focused strategy aims to maximize the utility derived from each purchase. This strategy considers factors like longevity, maintenance costs, potential for value addition, and active, continuous decision-making on the best purchase options.
  • Risk Management:
    Risk management means mitigating supply chain risks and other kinds of risk to your purchase-to-pay cycle. Risk management is all about understanding what could go wrong, and making plans to ensure stability. In the event of unforeseen issues, you should have plans in place to handle them. Diversifying the supplier base is one such measure that can easily be taken.
  • Sustainability or Green Purchasing:
    Sustainability – or Green Purchasing – centers around selecting suppliers based on their environmental and social impact. This strategy involves identifying and collaborating with suppliers that have environmentally- and socially responsible sourcing practices, to offer goods and services with a lower impact to the end user.

How the P2P cycle fits into your purchasing strategy

The P2P cycle is the linchpin of your purchasing strategy. When set up correctly, it ensures cost-efficient, hassle-free workflows and processes, ensuring a streamlining of the handling of purchase orders, invoice approval being handled by the right person, payments made within due dates, and so on. Also, a well-done P2P cycle should include tools that makes it easy for suppliers to be compliant in their invoicing, and routines for handling deviations in invoices, deliveries, and any other part of the cycle.

Achieving an efficient P2P cycle

If your P2P cycle is inefficient, it will affect your entire business. The result may be losses in revenue or even your reputation. Bottlenecks may slow the process down, or even halt it completely. Let’s have a look at a few measures you can take to ensure the process runs smoothly:

Real-time visibility

Implementing systems that provide you with real-time visibility into the entire P2P cycle, gives you the possibility of monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cycle time, approval delays, and procurement costs to identify areas for improvement. These kinds of systems give you all the information you need, at your fingertips at any given time. Also, they reduce the manual labor and paperwork needing to be done. 

Compliance and risk management

Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential risks. In what parts of the cycle are the risks greatest and how can they be mitigated? Regular risk assessments ought to be conducted, both to understand where things might go wrong, but also to establish robust compliance protocols to adhere to regulatory requirements. 

Data-driven decision-making

Implementing a system that makes it possible to get data-driven analytics gives you insight into your company’s spending patterns, supplier performance, and cost-saving opportunities. This makes informed decisions based on data possible, enabling the continuous optimization of your P2P cycle.  

Continuous improvement

Establishing a culture of continuous improvement within your procurement team will help your company to thrive and do better day by day. The P2P cycle and processes require regular review and updating, and instilling the “always improving” mindset in your team, will help them recognize and suggest improvements to make your processes and relationships with your customers and suppliers even better. This also includes incorporating feedback from stakeholders, identifying areas of improvement or refinement, and helping your team work on the areas being identified..

Training and development

Invest in training programs to enhance the skills of your teams. It is of the utmost importance to stay updated on industry best practices and emerging technologies. Ensure that your team is well-equipped and have the best possible prerequisites to navigate the ever-changing landscape of procurement.


Implementing automation tools and digital systems for handling purchase orders and invoices is of great importance if you want the P2P cycle to be efficient and accurate. Automation reduces the time spent on manual processing of purchase orders and invoices. Time will be freed up, and the team can instead focus on building closer relationships with suppliers, and also there will be more time for focusing on KPIs and making improvements to the P2P cycle, the purchasing strategies and risk management. 

Automation tools increase the accuracy of the information found in purchase orders and invoices through the reduction of human error.  Also, in the event of deviations, documents are flagged for human review, ensuring an extra control mechanism is in place.

Achieving the goal of improving your purchasing strategy

An all-round approach is key to improving your purchasing strategy. This includes optimizing your P2P cycle. 

Through a deep understanding of your business goals and strategy, the processes involved in the P2P cycle, as well as nurturing close relationships with your suppliers, you are better equipped to identify and implement the right tactics and solutions that in the end will lead to an improvement in your company’s profitability.

Optimizing your purchasing strategy is an ongoing journey. If you embrace innovation, make sure your company can adapt to change, and make sure you refine your processes continuously, you will be able to meet the evolving demands of the market. In doing so, you’ll drive long-term value for your organization.

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