Sourcing and Procurement

The importance of source-to-pay user experience in procurement

Studies show that building a meaningful and relevant end-to-end user experience is one of the key aspects of an organisation that promises best-in-class procurement services. The question is: how can this be achieved?
Excellence in source-to-pay (S2P) user experience is built through the creation of a human-centric ecosystem based on 4 key principles: relevance, convenience, empowerment, and consistency. Let’s take a look at how these factors contribute to providing a premium S2P user experience.

Unravelling the recipe to excellence

Relevance – User experience (UX) has different meanings for different people; therefore, it must be tailored to the needs of the people within an organisation. To build a strong UX, one needs to know their audience – who they are, what they need, what they want, what their pain points are, and who they interact with in day-to-day scenarios. A set of collaborative workshops, surveys, creation of user personas, user journeys, and joint identification of improvement opportunities are the tools that help enable the application of this principle in building the best UX processes.

Convenience – Regardless of the organisation or the process, as humans, we all like simple, convenient solutions that give us the impression of being easy to operate and saving time. To address this principle, a user-centric process should be powered with a combination of user-friendly modern technology solutions, well-structured information clusters, and a simplified, de-siloed end-to-end process that is governed in an agile manner. The ideal, user-centric S2P process should be standardised, integrated, easily adaptable to changing needs, providing fast end-to-end issue resolutions without the need to contact multiple departments, and, where possible, anticipating a user’s needs.

Empowerment – Users want to feel independent and self-sufficient. On the one hand, they want to be able to do their jobs with minimal interaction with other departments; on the other, if interacting becomes necessary, they want a simple and efficient way to do it. This principle is addressed in S2P through digital solutions focused on self-service and hands-free user support – addressing two objectives: seamless user experience and compliance improvement. As the most recent SSOW report shows, 50% of interviewed GBS organisations are going to invest in digital transformation within the next 6-12 months. The reason for this isn’t only to bring efficiency but also to enhance customer satisfaction.

Consistency – Evolutionary humans are resistant to change. That is why consistency has extreme importance in achieving a best-in-class user experience. Consistency helps build trust in the organisation and replaces discouragement with the promotion of new ideas. To be able to convince S2P users that they can trust our solution, obtaining and then retaining their loyalty is critical to proving its success to them.

Key levers to success

The key levers building the best-in-class S2P experience are Collaboration & Interaction, Digitisation, UX-driven Operations, and Performance Management.

Collaboration & Interaction – Targeted workshops and surveys conducted for S2P users (business users, source to contract specialists, procurement agents, accounts payable agents, master data agents, suppliers, warehouse managers, etc.) to understand their pain points, create a user journey and build a single vision of the end-state process.

Digitisation – Digital layers will relieve users of a part of their daily tasks, while also facilitating them to do their jobs in an easier and more compliant manner. Some digital solutions could include:

  • Creation of a single-entry point bringing all Client S2P tools and systems under one roof.
  • AI/ML-based solutions like Procurement Insights for procurement analytics, Digital Command Center for automated, real-life reporting, guided buying, procurement conversational assistant, Accounts Payable on the Cloud for invoice automation, Data Quality Management Tools, P2P process mining, Digital One Office for holistic supplier and business query resolution, etc.
  • Usage of user-friendly, app-based solutions enabling buying and approvals from mobile phones.
  • Self-buying solutions like digital catalogues, P-Cards, Marketplaces, and eSourcing platforms.

UX-driven operations – A seamless, friction-free process is key to improving user experience. The following elements can be used to enhance user experience in the S2P process:

  • Triaging mechanism directing demand to the right buying channel and identifying opportunities to reduce one-off buying and increase self-serve.
  • Globally aligned & harmonised processes leveraging process mining for process optimisation and reduction of non-value-added steps focused on driving synergies across all parts of the S2P process. Ensuring that upstream efficiencies are tracked and driven to ensure that resultant downstream efficiencies are captured. (i.e., PO reductions & Invoice reductions). 
  • Integrated operating model with agile governance for interconnected collaboration and intelligent performance insights.
  • E2E Integration of S2P processes with integrated S2P helpdesk and improvements with an established GPO Office.
  • Category managers establishing strategic relationships with business stakeholders, upfront strategy alignment and co-development, more efficient execution against this strategy while minimising business time on procurement through various strategies.
  • Robotics process automation (RPA) to enhance the efficiency of the process.   

Metrics & Outcomes – The right performance measurement mechanism allows us to determine the success rate of our approach as well as identify areas for improvement. An ideal metric could be the “Voice of the Customer”, working on operational, tactical, and strategic levels. Additionally, aligning the client on targeted business metrics is essential to improve customer satisfaction and business outcomes.

To summarise, a best-in-class S2P user experience is to drive ‘Human Centric’ experience-led, efficient, proactive, predictive, and effective operations with an intelligent bridge between the technology backbone and business process layer to achieve a higher level of process excellence. To be able to do that, organisations need to offer a solution that is tailored to users’ needs; eliminate challenges and pain points; be easily accessible and intuitive, efficiently leading them to the information they need; enable, or support their decision-making and, most of all, build trust in the process.

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