Optimizing the Purchase-to-Pay Process with Process Mining

Procurement is a crucial function for any organization, as it involves the sourcing, purchasing, and paying for goods and services. The purchase-to-pay (P2P) process is an essential part of procurement and involves multiple stages, from requisition to payment.

With so many moving parts, the P2P process can become complex and time-consuming, leading to inefficiencies and bottlenecks. However, process mining technology provides a solution to these challenges, helping organizations to optimize their P2P process and drive significant improvements in performance.

In this article, you'll see how process mining helps to optimize the purchase-to-pay process and get 3 practical tips for how this is done with our process mining software, QPR ProcessAnalyzer.

This blog was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with recent information in February 2023.

The Phases of the Purchase-to-Pay Process:

The standard phases of a purchase-to-pay (P2P) process typically include:

  1. Purchase Requisition: A request is made to purchase goods or services, which is then submitted for approvals.

  2. Purchase Order: A purchase order is created for the goods or services being procured.

  3. Goods Receipt: The goods are received at the company's physical storage and logged into the warehouse management system.

  4. Invoice Receipt: The vendor sends an invoice for the goods or services.

  5. Invoice Approval: The invoice is reviewed by the handling team to verify the quality of the goods or services.

  6. Invoice Posting and Payment: The approved invoice is posted and the payment is made to the vendor.

However, in reality, the process is not as straightforward. It is often more complex and subject to a variety of issues such as incorrect order of steps, delayed timing, and errors. This results in prolonged lead times and increased costs.

process expectations and reality


What is Process Mining?

Process mining is a data-driven approach to process improvement that leverages data from existing systems to analyze and optimize processes. It provides a visual representation of the P2P process, identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. With process mining, organizations can gain a deep understanding of their P2P process, enabling them to make informed decisions that drive improvements in performance and efficiency.

Process Mining for Purchase-to-Pay

A number of different events, such as "purchase order created" or "invoice approved", are recorded into your procurement, ERP, or invoicing system database with timestamps.

From the starting point of the process to "Goods Receipt" and all the way until "Invoice Payment" (and beyond), a record exists of when such an event took place in the purchase-to-pay process.

Already with this data, we can create the process mining model that uses these events (and more) to show you how your procurement process happens in reality. QPR ProcessAnalyzer - QPR's Process Mining software - draws data directly from your information systems (such as ERP, procurement, or invoicing systems) with built-in connectors. It then visualizes and identifies symptoms of inefficient processes, such as bottlenecks, rework, Maverick Buying, and conformance violations.

Video: How to spot Maverick Buying in your purchase-to-pay process in less than one minute

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How Process Mining Can Improve the P2P Process

  1. Increased visibility: Process mining provides an end-to-end view of the P2P process, giving organizations the visibility they need to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This helps organizations to make data-driven decisions that drive process optimization and improvement.

  2. Improved Compliance: The P2P process involves multiple stakeholders, and it is crucial to ensure that all participants are following the correct procedures and guidelines. With process mining, organizations can monitor and enforce compliance, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring that the P2P process is performed consistently and efficiently.

  3. Faster Payments: A key benefit of process mining is the ability to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the P2P process. This information can help organizations to streamline the process, reducing lead times, and enabling faster payments to suppliers.

  4. Better supplier relations: A streamlined and efficient P2P process can help organizations to build better relationships with their suppliers. By ensuring that payments are made on time and without errors, organizations can improve supplier trust and satisfaction.

  5. Increased Efficiency: By optimizing the P2P process with process mining, organizations can reduce lead times, eliminate inefficiencies, and improve overall performance. This helps organizations to operate more efficiently, saving time and reducing costs.


Three Strategies for Improving Your Purchase-to-Pay Process Using Process Mining Technology

Maximize the efficiency of your P2P process with these three tactics. In the following examples, we use the process mining software QPR ProcessAnalyzer:

  1. Uncover the current state of your processes: Identify bottlenecks and compare performance against internal standards.

  2. Utilize root cause analysis to uncover the source of issues like long wait times.

  3. Continuously monitor and enhance performance by utilizing key performance indicators for purchasing practices, automation, and more.

1. Uncover Inefficiencies in Your Purchase-to-Pay and Compare Across Your Organization

Process mining is a powerful tool that can help you discover inefficiencies and improve your processes. With its computer-generated process flowcharts, you can quickly identify any undesired behavior in your process, such as missed steps or prolonged lead times.

Combined with process discovery techniques like duration analysis and case attribute profiling, you can uncover the root causes of these issues and get a clear understanding of where to focus your improvement efforts. Whether it's for compliance checking or process improvement, process mining is a crucial first step to take in optimizing your purchase-to-pay process.

2. Uncover the Reasons Behind Issues in Your P2P Process with Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis enables you to understand the underlying reasons for process issues, such as repeated process steps or prolonged lead times, in your Purchase-to-Pay process. This includes identifying the events that lead to problems and ranking the root causes based on their impact on business outcomes.

Not only can you identify the causes of issues, but you can also find "role models" in your processes where the issues are less frequent, to facilitate internal benchmarking.

By analyzing the root causes, you will have a solid foundation for developing a plan of action to improve your process. Additionally, you can use ad-hoc analysis and long-term process monitoring through Dashboards to further visualize your data.

3. Continuously monitor and enhance performance of P2P with ready-made process mining solutions

With the right process mining software, you can easily gain valuable insights into your P2P process, identify areas for improvement, and track progress over time.

One of the key features of process mining software is its ability to provide real-time, data-driven insights into your P2P process. This information can be used to monitor performance and identify areas for improvement, as well as to track the impact of any changes you make over time. For example, you can use process mining to see how long it takes for a purchase requisition to be approved, or to see how often changes are made to purchase orders.

Another important feature of process mining software is its ability to provide customized dashboards. These dashboards allow you to monitor the most critical KPIs for your P2P process, such as touchless order rates, automation rate trends, and process step cycle times. They also provide a visual representation of your process, which can be used to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.

One of the most important aspects of using process mining to optimize your P2P process is the ability to continuously monitor and improve performance. By using pre-built dashboards and advanced analytics, you can easily see how your process is performing and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, you can use process mining to track the impact of any changes you make over time, which can help you identify the most effective solutions for enhancing your P2P process


Why Process Mining for P2P Insights and Not Traditional Business Intelligence Reports?

One notable benefit that process mining offers over traditional BI reports is its' ease of use - the fact that you won't need a data scientist to interpret data or findings from the data, as AI-based advanced analyses and customizable real-time dashboards have been built for you.

QPR's pre-built Purchase-to-Pay dashboards makes process mining easier and faster than ever before, as everything is set up for you. This means that once you open a dashboard,  you will instantly see where and when Maverick buying is happening, its business impact as well as its root causes.


Through process mining, it is possible to get answers to questions such as:

  • How long does it take for a procurement request to become an actual order?
  • How long does it take for us to process the orders?
  • To what extent is my business complying with the designed Purchase-to-Pay process model - and how do we improve?

Knowing the specific areas in need of improvement within a process allows you to focus your efforts in a targeted and effective manner. By having a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you can make informed decisions, such as:

  • Speeding up the approval process in your purchase request
  • Automating certain tasks, such as invoice approval
  • Implementing a system of dual checks to enhance fraud detection

Summary: What are the benefits of using Process Mining for the Purchase-to-Pay process?

The P2P process is a critical part of procurement, and it is crucial for organizations to ensure that it is performed efficiently and effectively. With process mining, organizations can gain a deep understanding of their P2P process, identify areas for improvement, and optimize performance. By leveraging process mining technology, organizations can streamline their P2P process, improve compliance, make faster payments, build better supplier relations, and increase efficiency.

If you're looking to improve your P2P process, consider incorporating process mining technology into your procurement strategy.

Explore how QPR ProcessAnalyzer supports your Purchase-to-Pay process optimization in a personalized demo with a process mining expert.


Written by
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Jaakko Knuutinen

Presales Consultant

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