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Procure-to-pay is a term used to describe a system that connects all of the steps of a procurement process, from the decision to buy something to the eventual transaction.
Procure-to-pay is also sometimes known as purchase-to-pay.
The fundamental basis of procure-to-pay is that there is one single streamlined and efficient process that covers every step of procurement. That means there is a lot of leeway in how procure-to-pay systems are set up and implemented.
Procure-to-pay can involve various principles. One is connectivity with suppliers, or establishing a long-term relationship between a vendor and a customer, where each single transaction is evaluated in a fuller context. Another one would be creating a better user experience.
One very simple way to think about procure-to-pay is that, with new technologies, companies can set up easier purchasing processes that do not involve traditional cashier situations.
For example, instead of using an e-commerce portal or other type of merchant software to sell things, the vendor can simply tag the items that it is selling and keep track of what customers are taking. It can then create invoices under a single comprehensive procure-to-pay process. What this looks like on the ground is that, instead of paying, customers just take things and procure-to-pay processes track this, and everything is easily worked out later.
Procure-to-pay represents one aspect of how new technologies make different kinds of purchasing possible. Many of the security systems in place for purchasing are built around 20th century technologies that we have available, for example, cash registers and credit cards. With more high-tech monitoring, all of these could become unnecessary. The key issue would be establishing an agreement that allows vendors and customers to track purchases for eventual accuracy.