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What is Intake-to-Procure? Definition and benefits

What is Intake-to-Procure? Definition and benefits

Procurement isn’t always easy. Between supplier onboarding risk, procurement policy compliance, and rogue spending, there are plenty of pitfalls finance and procurement departments need to keep an eye out for.

If these are the kinds of things that keep you up at night, Intake-to-Procure technology might be the streamlined solution you’re looking for.

Intake-to-Procure is a modern approach to procurement that captures unmanaged spend and guides employees through the purchase approval process. It’s a solution that integrates with existing systems and workflows to provide a single front door for all procurement requests, from purchases to contracts. 

Interested in learning more? Let’s dive in!

What Is Intake-to-Procure?

Intake-to-Procure solutions provide a centralized interface for employees to request, approve, and collaborate on procurement processes. It’s a one-stop shop for all teams, enabling collaborative, cross-functional approval processes for procurement, IT, controllers, security, legal, and executive teams. With Intake-to-Procure, companies can see their procurement operations through, from start to finish.

Finance and procurement departments are perpetually stretched thin. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that employees are able to view, monitor and approve purchase requests without relying on manual methods.

Before Intake-to-Procure solutions, procurement was a slow and choppy process. Automating intake enables all employees to engage with the process, and see their requests through to final approval—all while managing compliance.

Benefits of an Intake-to-Procure Solution

Many procurement organizations today already have systems such as procure-to-pay or contract lifecycle management in place to handle purchase requests. But these systems often come with usability and adoption challenges, especially for procurement stakeholders. When cross-functional approvals come into the mix, the problems get trickier.

According to a Zip Report based on 1,056 U.S.-based finance and accounting professionals:

 
  • Nearly half of businesses require 6 or more cross-functional approvals for a new software or vendor purchase.
  • 32% of finance and accounting professionals say it takes 3 weeks or longer to secure approval for new purchase requests.
  • More than half (57.7%) of respondents make more than 50 new purchase requests for B2B software or services at their company on a monthly basis.
  • 48.4% of surveyed leaders said six or more approvals are required for a new software or vendor purchase in their company.
  • One-third of leaders surveyed (32%) said it takes 3 weeks or longer to receive approval.
  • For roughly 1 in 4 respondents (27.1%), more than 10 approvals are required for a new software or vendor purchase in their company.

By unifying the traditional fragmented request and approval processes, procurement intake solutions can help a company improve employee adoption of procurement processes, increase efficiency, reduce supplier risk, and control spend.

  1. Increased employee adoption

An Intake-to-Procure solution allows all employees access to the same centralized front door for procurement. When information is presented in a concise and clear manner, it becomes much more accessible. And having more employees on the platform will result in better oversight.

With an optimized user experience, your procurement team will find themselves capturing more spend. Companies will have better buy-in, giving employees more agency and buy-in for compliance.

Intake can actually increase spend under management by 80% in starter use cases, or push the common ceiling of 60%–70% spend under management to 90%+ spend under management. 

Assuming an average of 9% savings for every new dollar brought under procurement control, this nets tens of millions in potential savings just from focusing on adoption. It really is a quantifiable game changer.

  1. Increased operational efficiency

The automated systems within Intake-to-Procure let procurement teams relax a bit knowing that things are happening behind the scenes. From start to finish, Intake-to-Procure will monitor and flag issues that may arise. It frees employees up to focus on other needs.

Intake-to-Procure ensures companies are running efficiently and speedily. Nearly every aspect of the process happens on one platform—vendor onboarding, approval, oversight, risk management, IT and security checks. This makes for a strong and healthy procurement process.

But don’t take our word for it: learn how Patreon reduced approval cycle times by 50% with Zip.

  1. Mitigated business risk

Along the process, Intake-to-Procure flags for risky situations. Whether in the early contract stage or near delivery, you can be assured that Intake-to-Procure is carefully monitoring your organization. As more employees have access to the platforms, it also allows for even more oversight of different processes while enabling hybrid procurement structures.

  1. Controlled spend

Better efficiency and lower risk through Intake-to-Procure mean that a company will find better budgetary outcomes. Intake-to-Procure solutions provide request routing to preferred vendor options, allowing companies to choose the best fit for their financial goals. The automated processes of Intake-to-Procure allow for turnkey results.

As Nick Heinzmann, Head of Research at Zip put it in his Margin Makers newsletter, “the earlier you get involved in spending, the more you influence the spend.” We think that’s a perfect operating principle.

Key Features of Intake-to-Procure Solutions

For many companies, procurement tends to focus on compliance. The stakeholder user experience of vendor onboarding and procurement intake tends to fall by the wayside, much to the detriment of the company.

Intake-to-Procure melds procurement intake, vendor onboarding, and cross-functional approval processes under one streamlined view. Automation provides tangible metrics so that companies can focus on optimizing procurement. It all comes together, providing an incredible experience for everyone. 

With an Intake-to-Procure solution, you get:

A single front door for all requests that makes adoption simple

Intake-to-Procure solutions reduce purchase request cycle times by creating a single front door for procurement intake. A user-friendly interface for employees to submit any type of procurement request—be it a purchase, a contract, a renewal, or a vendor—offloads confusion and reduces friction, making the process far more pleasant for everyone involved.

Collaborative approvals

When workflows are transparent and collaborative, allowing requesters and the approvers full visibility into progress and status, bottlenecks tend to work themselves out quickly. If not, everyone is fully aware of what work needs to be done to move things forward.

Integrates with P2P and ERP systems

One of the most important features of Intake-to-Procure technology is seamless integration with existing P2P and ERP systems like Netsuite, so approved requests can be converted into purchase orders or contracts without manual intervention. Integration will enable data synchronization and reconciliation between systems, ensuring data quality and accuracy.

Vendor management

Managing vendor relationships becomes easy when operating within a single source of truth. As a centralized repository for vendor data, an Intake-to-Procure platform simplifies data collection and provides everything you need to manage supply chain and vendors efficiently and effectively. 

Renewal management with automated workflows

Alerts! With complete vendor data, the Intake-to-Procure tool can send notifications about upcoming renewal deadlines and initiate automated renewal workflows, saving time, money, and headaches.

Spend analytics

With one dedicated tool for procurement, you’ll gain the earliest visibility into both spend and the resulting trends. With these insights, you can take steps that may lead to reduced cycle times, budget optimizations, vendor consolidations, and other lifecycle efficiencies. With this kind of robust customizable data aggregation, the sky's the limit.

AI-powered workflows

Given the way technology is rapidly evolving, it’s no surprise that AI-integration is a must for accelerating procurement workflows. 

Zip AI can extract key information from any document, eliminating manual data entry and heightening accuracy with built-in data integrity checks. Legal and risk review automation can scan MSAs and audit reports for legal and security reviews in seconds, while AI-powered insights can instantly identify redundancies and other savings opportunities.

Learn more about what Zip AI can do today.

Procure-to-Pay vs Intake-to-Procure vs Intake-to-Pay: Understanding Terminology

Procure-to-Pay, Intake-to-Pay, Intake-to-Procure—it gets confusing, doesn’t it! These are all different terms with different meanings and implications for procurement professionals and organizations at large. 

Let’s break it down and make it simple to understand.

Procure-to-Pay (P2P)

Procure-to-Pay (P2P) describes the process of executing and paying for orders after they have been approved. It covers the downstream activities of procurement, such as creating purchase orders, receiving goods or services, invoicing, and payment. 

The main advantage of P2P is that it can improve the efficiency and accuracy of the order execution and payment process, reducing errors, delays, and costs.

The main disadvantage of P2P is that it doesn’t address the upstream activities of procurement, such as identifying needs, validating requests, obtaining approvals, and sourcing vendors. 

P2P assumes that the procurement requests have been already approved and are aligned with the broader procurement policies and budget. However, this is often not the case, as many procurement requests are initiated by employees outside the procurement team who may not follow the procurement policies or have the necessary approvals. This lack of compliance oversight often results in unmanaged spend, non-compliant purchases, and missed savings opportunities.

Intake-to-Procure (I2P)

Intake-to-Procure (I2P) is the process of capturing and managing procurement requests from the initial point of need to the final purchase order or contract. 

I2P covers the upstream activities of procurement such as identifying needs, validating requests, obtaining approvals, and sourcing vendors. I2P is often supported by software systems that integrate with the existing P2P and ERP systems, such as Zip.

Intake-to-Pay focuses on the most strategic and impactful part of the procurement process, the original intake. I2P can help procurement teams influence and optimize spend, by getting involved in the procurement requests as early as possible and providing guidance and recommendations to maximize opportunity.

Intake-to-Pay (I2P)

Intake-to-Pay (I2P) is the full holistic process of capturing and managing procurement requests from the initial point of need, all the way to the final payment. 

I2P covers both the upstream and downstream activities of procurement as described by Intake-to-Procure, in addition to creating POs, invoices, and finally payment. Keeping every element of the procurement cycle in one place can maximize insights and value, enhance visibility and collaboration, thereby improving employee engagement and satisfaction.

That said, for enterprise and larger organizations already operating within multiple systems and workflows, it may require a larger lift to implement, maintain, and train. Fortunately, Zip makes it easy—see for yourself how Zip’s full-suite Intake-to-Pay solution can streamline procurement at your organization.


Steps for Intake-to-Procure

Procurement intake is a comprehensive process that includes many repeatable steps. Automated Intake-to-Procure tools make for smooth and efficient processes.

Implementing an Intake-to-Procure solution at your company may look something like this:

  1. Create an intake form that is dynamic and comprehensive

This intake form should be able to adapt to the request type and category, and ask different questions based on the request details. It should include all the complete and necessary information, such as the vendor name, type of work, desired result, ideal completion dates, budget, contact points, and key stakeholders in the approval process.

  1. Design the purchase request approval sequence to orchestrate the process to completion

The approval workflow should define the chain of approval , the required criteria, and the approval actions for each procurement request. The workflow should also be transparent and collaborative, giving the requester and the approvers full visibility into the request progress and status.

  1. Pull in the proper stakeholders by assigning tasks to different team members

It’s absolutely essential that the required stakeholders are assigned their tasks in order to keep the process properly moving. Intake-to-Procure software like Zip automates the process of notifying any stakeholders and employees needed, setting deadlines and alerts, allows for comments and real-time feedback while ensuring transparency throughout the process.

  1. Align the team on any details or questions that may arise so that everyone is on the same page

In order to keep everything moving smoothly, make sure everyone has visibility into the process, and has the opportunity to ask questions or seek information about the scope of the request. When everyone is operating within the same centralized ‘single source of truth’ provided by an Intake-to-Procure platform, the vast majority of your team should have the information they need to move forward.

  1. Confirm the launch of the process and roll out to stakeholders with executive alignment

The roll out to stakeholders means that the request has been communicated and explained to the relevant parties, such as key executives, the vendor(s), the finance team, and the legal team. Nothing should ever come as a surprise when this process is implemented correctly.

  1. Monitor intake processes for risk, approvals, and necessary roadblocks

Problems can arise, therefore it’s important to monitor for risk and roadblocks. An advanced approval management system can track, manage, and update approvals, while flagging compliance issues before they become a real problem.

  1. Finalize the process and look at the results

Finally, take a step back and consider the effectiveness of the process. Intake-to-Procure platforms can offer detailed reports and summaries to confirm if the request was a success, and inform your team as to what worked, and didn’t, and what can be improved.

How Each Department Benefits from Intake-to-Procure

Let’s go deeper, and consider how each department can find value in implementing Intake-to-Procure.

Procurement

  • It’s no secret that procurement departments are often seen as causing friction, with the long approval processes, a lack of visibility, unnecessary processes, and confused end-users. As such, many employees try to circumvent procurement because it’s ‘just easier’.
  • Intake-to-Procure offers one system for procurement — requesters get purchases faster, allowing for quicker delivery and value. It also allows for happier employees who finally ‘buy-in’ to procurement.
  • Procurement departments can better showcase their value as they are freed up to focus on strategic goals with Intake-to-Procure.

Finance

  • Before Intake-to-Procure, finance departments lacked visibility and control in procurement. When employees circumvent procurement processes, they wreck budget projections and introduce audit risks.
  • Intake-to-Procure keeps all spend under one roof, allowing finance to have proper channels and reporting capability regardless of size, type, or need. With tighter budgets, finance can have better spend management and financial planning.
  • With Intake-to-Procure, finance can eliminate rogue spend and keep tighter budgets all under control.

IT

  • IT departments are already stretched thin and lack bandwidth. They are especially concerned with the amount of software proliferation. Because of these issues, IT departments often wait to get involved with procurement until after the fact.
  • Intake-to-Procure allows IT departments to eliminate shadow IT spend, allowing for better budget outcomes and time management. With oversight into all functions, IT can be involved much earlier in software requests, helping to improve predictability and foresight.

Security

  • Standard manual processes have left data security professionals with no visibility into vendor onboarding workflows. This leads to purchases without approvals and a lack of audit trails.
  • Intake-to-Procure provides automated solutions for security that reduces the time spent reviewing questionnaires. Digitalization improves metrics around security and compliance. It streamlines the processes, allowing for time freed up to spend in other security matters.
  • Intake-to-Procure empowers security departments to find data and find a strategic value in procurement where they couldn’t before.

Legal

  • Legal can often feel like they’re only involved when a situation faces emergency status. Legal departments often use CLM and GRC tools, but are left feeling confused with traditional systems.
  • By looping in legal from the start of procurement intake, legal has adequate time to review documents and eliminates last-minute reviews. Intake-to-Procure allows businesses to search for legacy contracts by linking CLM tools. These requests can also have the proper security reviews completed to mitigate risk like a GRC tool would.
  • Intake-to-Procure streamlines risk and allows legal to manage vendors and approvals from the start—eliminating the feelings of emergency and urgency that causes headaches.

What Procurement KPIs does Intake-to-Procure Impact?

Procurement fundamentally has three primary KPI categories—Quality, Delivery, and Cost-Savings. Intake-to-Procure can quantify, measure, and improve all three. Let’s dig in.

Quality KPIs

  • Intake-to-Procure monitors vendors from start to finish. It ensures that only approved or qualified vendors are used, leading to stronger supplier relationships.
  • Suppliers are highly monitored and prevented from auto-renewing contracts, allowing for continuous supplier performance assessment.

Delivery KPIs

  • Intake-to-Procure vastly improves supplier lead time by automating and quickening vendor approvals.
  • Intake-to-Procure improves the end-to-end ordering process, which lowers purchase order cycle time.
  • With oversight from all stakeholders, Intake-to-Procure ensures there are fewer emergency orders.

Cost-saving KPIs

  • With Intake-to-Procure automation, the use of preferred vendors allows for supply-base consolidation.
  • Intake-to-Procure controls spend under management, allowing for companies to optimize their budgets.
  • More stakeholders will see the effectiveness of procurement and adopt the process, allowing for better ROI.
  • Faster vendor onboarding and approval will allow for more price competition, allowing enterprises to strategize on category makeup.

Adopting Intake-to-Procure will result in quality, delivery, and cost-saving KPIs that will leave organizations much healthier.

How Zip’s Intake-to-Procure Can Help Your Procurement Team

Zip is the world’s leading Intake-to-Procure solution, providing a single platform for any employee to initiate a purchase or vendor request. Zip’s seamless upstream procurement intake experience guides requesters to preferred suppliers while automatically routing the approval workflow for every new purchase or vendor to the right team, at the right time.

With Zip Intake-to-Procure, businesses gain full adoption of the procurement process. This leads to clear and timely visibility across all purchases, increasing operational efficiency, mitigating business risk, and controlling spend while dramatically improving the employee experience.

Zip offers one intelligent procurement intake process that acts as the front-end to ERP or Procure-to-Pay, which reduces redundant vendors. Approvals with Zip are quick – with configurable approval chains built for collaboration on a no-code platform where anyone can change workflows.

Ready to modernize your procurement intake experience? Request a demo so that you can see how Zip addresses your Intake-to-Procure needs.

Establishing Frictionless Intake-to-Procure as the core of procurement experience

Establishing Frictionless Intake-to-Procure as the core of procurement experience

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