Intuitive, on-demand, frictionless and personalised experience have played a major role in the Business-To-Consumer (B2C) market for years. During the fast adoption by consumers and ongoing technology advances, the Business-To-Business (B2B) market has been lagging. According to McKinsey’s customer-experience index rating B2B businesses significantly lag those of retail customers. In its research B2C businesses typically score between 65% and 85% range, while B2B businesses average less than 50%.
With the ongoing digitisation, rise of mobile, real-time responsiveness, artificial intelligence and easy-to-use apps B2B businesses need to rise to the challenge.
Projecting these developments to Procure-To-Pay (P2P), it’s inevitable that change is required to optimise user experience of all the stakeholders in the purchase requisition, commitment, invoicing, receipting, reconciliation to payment process. Procurement leaders need to ensure their P2P capabilities and associated service providers can deliver a similar B2C user experience. Not only today, but also able to keep up with ongoing changes.
The challenge for procurement leaders, and associated stakeholders within the P2P capability, is to improve the user experience, whilst balancing this against different buying patterns, more complex buying behaviours, business users being further removed from suppliers and more complex purchasing processes.
Challenge 1: Different Purchasing Patterns
Within the P2P capability there is not a single user type to tailor a great and consistent user experience. Dealing with a wide range of products, product categories, frequency & quantity of purchases across different functions, suppliers and needs make it far more challenging to meet and exceed expectations.
Challenge 2: More Complex Purchasing Behaviours
Business decisions to purchase certain goods and services are far more complicated. The typical B2C buyer types range from economic, social, impulsive, early-adopter or quality buyer. Multiple stakeholders often drive different decisions. Also, other factors as existing contract arrangements, business relationships, supplier qualifications and reputations play a critical role.
Challenge 3: Users Further Removed from Suppliers
Users within the overall P2P process are often further removed from the supplier. Therefore, the ability to build strong relationships, obtain product advice or being influenced by a supplier during the purchasing and payment process is far less present.
Challenge 4: More Complex Purchasing Processes
Dealing with a wide range of products and services and different spend authorisations, functional and technical approvals drive far more complexity in the requisition to order process. In addition, businesses that purchase specialised products and services (not publicly available, e.g. specific chemicals or drugs) typically creates further challenge in the overall P2P process.
For procurement leaders to improve and optimise the overall user experience in the P2P process several actions are required.
- Understand all end user types
- Create use cases (standard & exception handling)
- Identify current rework & incidents
- Identify digitisation opportunities
- Create process transparency
Understand all end user types
The first step in the P2P process is to identify all end users; from suppliers, requestors, technical, functional & financial approvers, procurement, supply chain, payments processor, accounts payable and management. Mapping the different end users and their touchpoints along the P2P value chain will be the starting point to improve and optimise the overall user experience.
Create use cases
Next action is to define the P2P use cases. Start with the rule, ie. the standard handling processes, before getting carried away by all the exceptions within the process. This could be driven by specific tailoring for certain relationships, extra services or additional approvals. By splitting the use cases into standard and exception handling use cases, helps to minimise complexity for most end users. When creating the use cases ensure your P2P provider is engaged early and can accommodate your needs.
Identify current rework & incidents
Identifying rework and incidents in the overall P2P process is critical to prioritise user experience improvements. Overall, rework is often causing a flow-on effect, resulting in significant delays and frustration with end users. Typically, internal procedures, auditing or compliance requirements that are not well specified or too detailed cause delays.
Identify digitisation opportunities
The next action is to engage with end users to identify opportunities to further digitise the P2P customer experience. In the P2P process this could be achieved through single screen user experience, standard APIs with supplier for content, invoicing & receipting, standard APIs with accounting systems, self-service functionality, 3-way matching optimisation, workflow and payments rule engine, GL code mapping and real-time dashboards.
Create process transparency
Finally, a procurement leader should focus on creating transparency for all end users in the P2P process. Allowing any user to know the exact status of a purchase request, order, invoice, receipt, payment or accounting entry. Typically, this is simply achieved by engaging the right P2P service provider.
Overall, in the B2B market user experience becomes more important, but requires further improvements to keep end users engaged. Within the P2P capability, procurement leaders are best placed to lead the user experience improvements and increase adoption within the organisation.
To learn more about how think’s P2P platform can enhance your user experience – get in touch here.