Ushering In a New Era of Procure-to-Pay Efficiency

I have recently been working with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) on improvements to their Procure-to-Pay process. These improvements ensure requisitions are sourced to purchase orders, purchase orders are dispatched, and invoices are vouchered without delay and with greater efficiency.

Utilizing Connected Query and XML Publisher, we have developed several reports to support users in identifying various issues that previously slipped through the cracks until year-end creating a lot of work.Before we created these reports, requestors and buyers had to rely on individual queries and remember to run those queries regularly. By developing reports that are scheduled to run once a week, the buyer and requestors are able to track outstanding purchase orders and resolve possible issues before they become a problem. They receive the new report automatically and the report consists of data from all queries, connected, in one.

A New Era of Accountability and Efficiency

Through the use of weekly reports, accountability has been significantly improved both internally (Requestors, Buyers and AP Specialists) and with vendors in tracking both purchase order activity and issues regarding the orders. Since implementing these reports, issues identified on the report for follow-up have gone down by about 60%. The process improvements and reports have significantly reduced manual intervention by staff and expedited the timely completion of purchase orders. The year-end process has also become less time consuming because management of data throughout the year has replaced the practice of waiting until the end-of-year to unearth and address issues.

Reminders as to the need to receive the item if delivered and without issue are automatic helping to ensure vendors are paid on time. Similarly, if a purchase order is not filled timely (within 45 days) there is explanation to document the delay. And when there is not a sound reason, there is information enabling KCTCS to monitor vendor fulfillment performance. Significant improvement to these areas as well as receipting, vouchering, correction of budget errors and lack of reasons for payment hold are being avoided and/or addressed in a timely manner and without the usual dissonance regarding who’s responsible.

Good Riddance to Old Issues

No longer does a requisition sit in a queue waiting to be processed indefinitely. No longer does a requisition wait to get sourced to a purchase order and dispatched timely. No longer do purchase order dispatch issues go unaddressed for more than 3 days. No longer do purchase orders await recycling indefinitely once the issue has been addressed.Nor do match exceptions fall between the cracks.

The following figure shows the reduction in outstanding items by category from January 2011 (old processes in place) to January 2012 (new processes in place). On January 13, 2011, there were 352 outstanding items (blue); on January 30, 2012, there were 78 (red):


Challenges Overcome

The three biggest challenges that we faced with this project were (1) determining what the major issues were, (2) determining who was responsible for following up on the issues, and (3) determining how to communicate this information to the colleges. We started by looking at where the majority of the time was being spent at year-end and how could we best reduce the year-end effort. We found that although most queries were already available to help identify the issues, they weren’t being run on a regular basis. Also, not everyone was aware that these queries even existed.

We began by documenting the queries and, to make things easier, connecting all of these queries into one report. Once a unified report was created, we decided to schedule the report and email it directly to those responsible so that they no longer had to remember to run anything manually. Now they receive an email every Monday morning with the report attached.

Working with KCTCS staff on this project – especially Brenda Nolan, Associate Director of Purchasing, and Kim Freeman, Director of Accounts Payable – has been a great experience.

Interested in learning more?

I will be co-presenting a session at Alliance 2012 with Kimberly Freeman (Accounts Payable Director at KCTCS) and David Holcomb (Purchasing Director at KCTCS) titled “Improving the Procure-to-Pay Process using Metrics and Reporting” (Session #30140) on Monday, March 19, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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