The ABCs of P2P

Increase your properties' purchasing efficiencies with procure-to-pay

Procure-to-Pay, or P2P, refers to the purchasing and invoice processing tools helping property managers gain more control over procurement processes. It is not to be confused with that other P2P, Peer-to-Peer, a term referring to computer systems connected with each other through the Internet, to allow files to be shared between them without need for a server.

Procure-to-Pay (P2P) tools can streamline the process at every stage along a property manager’s purchasing cycle, from creating and populating a purchase order to electronically processing the resulting invoices.

P2P’s benefits

Marla Maloney, senior vice president and principal of St. Louis-based Cassidy Turley, a 2,700-employee, privately held company managing more than 420 million square feet of commercial space, moved her company to P2P last August.

Calling P2P “an automated payables solution that allows us to streamline our payables process,” Maloney says, “it ensures standardized workflow.” At Cassidy Turley, P2P replaced a manual paper process, in which invoices were stamped, coded and routed, for payment the old-fashioned way.

Three alternatives were evaluated, with Nexus the chosen option. Cassidy Turley embraced a P2P solution to replace the manual paper process involved in payables, because it increases efficiency. “It’s straight-through processing, where efforts such as data input, coding and approval are not duplicated throughout the process lifecycle,” Maloney explains. “There’s no chance of an invoice being paid twice, because the system recognizes the unique identifier.”

Because P2P is more efficient, cost savings are realized. Less paper goes through the system, less is spent on postage, and Maloney is able to centralize her process. She is also able to obtain consolidated spend data, she says. For instance, she can query “Acme Landscaping,” and determine how much Cassidy Turley is using that service and whether the firm is maximizing its buying power. Improved control is another benefit. “It’s a rules-based system, with pre-defined workflow, which drives process,” Maloney says.

P2P also provides for effective integration with the firm’s existing accounting systems, as well as document management and retrieval. Maloney reports she can find documents she needs, whether she’s in St. Louis or Northern California.

“They’re scanned, so if I have the appropriate permissions or access rights, I can retrieve an invoice at any time,” she says. And, P2P is a green solution.  “We’re eliminating paper, which is consistent with our company’s priorities,” she says.

CB Richard Ellis has used PayPlus, another P2P solution, for five years, and in August 2008, it began processing all of its 1.8 million invoices with the software, Minneapolis-based Senior Managing Director Patty Proshek says.

“Invoices from our vendors are scanned and electronically routed to get the approvals coded and approved, and then electronically uploaded into our software system,” adds Proshek. “Automated work-flow helps ensure compliance. It ensures coding is correct and the appropriate approvals are obtained.”

At Morgan Properties, a King of Prussia, Penn.-based company that owns and manages 31,000 apartment units across the mid-Atlantic states, Yardi PAYscan is used for P2P, says Chief Information Officer Jeff Callan.

“A lot more of the workflow is electronic,” he says. “We don’t have paper approval packages floating around the company, with no one
knowing who has them, who hasn’t signed them and where the packages are. It improves the visibility of where an invoice is in the
approval process.”

Opportunities for enhancement

During the time Cassidy Turley has used P2P, Nexus has been exceptionally open to collaboration with system users to find opportunities for enhancement, Maloney says, noting she has 120 client accountants working in the system.

“We’re working to better understand how to collaborate with vendors, using our system and entering their information,” she reports. “That will save time and add value. As we push the loading of information out to our vendors, we will maximize efficiency.”

Beyond that, Maloney believes P2P has capabilities that are yet unexplored. For instance, capabilities might be leveraged that allow the system to be utilized as a supplier management tool to negotiate bulk-purchasing agreements. It will eventually evolve into electronic procurement, allowing Cassidy Turley to buy exclusively online through its preferred providers.

The P2P system could also potentially be used as a vendor portal for invoice presentation. “At this point, we’re still getting hard-copy invoices and scanning them into our system,” Maloney says. “But in the very near term, our vendors will be presenting their invoices through Nexus.”

To comment on this story, e-mail Diana Mosher at dmosher@multi-housingnews.com.