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Procurement and Finance – A Loving Relationship? Sometimes…

Contributed article by Peter Smith, Author former CIPS President and Managing Editor of Spend Matters Europe

In my own 20 year career as a procurement practitioner, before I took refuge in consulting, writing and commentating, I ”enjoyed” a range of different reporting lines. Early in my career, I reported to a more senior procurement director. In Mars Confectionery, that reporting line went right to the top; procurement and supply chain was vital to the business and we had the “seat at the top table” that is often discussed. In another case, my global procurement director boss reported into Finance, then later into a regional “shared services” leader. In my government role, my boss looked after
finance and a whole range of other “back office” activities for the Department. At NatWest, I reported firstly to the Group CFO, then to the Group COO.

So, I’ve looked at this from both sides now, as they say, and can comment reasonably objectively in terms of whether finance is a good home for procurement. And more broadly, what makes the relationship between procurement and finance often so “interesting”?

How Extended Planning and Analysis Drives Business Agility

Strategic agility is a prerequisite in today’s shape-shifting tech-driven world - no debate from business leaders across sectors on that point. But many organisations face a big obstacle as they try to pivot strategy. They can’t quickly evolve their operations and workforce to meet new near-term goals because planning and analysis processes are stuck in the past. 

UK SOX - Your Questions Answered

What is UK SOX?

UK SOX is the unofficial name given to the UK new corporate governance reforms which will be coming into place soon. Following the release of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance white paper in March last year, the Government has announced details of its corporate governance changes which will move it closer to US style, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) regulations.


The risk for fraud remains prevalent – with many organisations vulnerable to both internal and external threats. Not only is ‘social hacking’ and email spam increasingly rife but, add to that, the additional risk posed by inadequate internal controls. Poor supervision or the lack of verified processes can often lead to the creation of false documents or ‘document tampering’.

The increase in remote working due to Covid-19, has further indicated an upsurge in ‘remote’ fraud as opposed to ‘in-office’, which is more prevalent within financial and accounts payable departments than it should be. It is not enough to ‘shut the stable door after the horse has bolted’! We need pre-emptive measures to eradicate fraud at its source.

New Contractor Laws - Make Sure Your Team is Up-to-Date

From April 6th 2021 ‘off-payroll working rules’ were extended to the private sector.  As a result the responsibility for determining a contractor’s employment status, and whether they are caught by IR35 legislation, now lies with the private sector organisation. 

Don’t suffer defeat because of poor finance practice

by Ian Smith, General Manager and Finance Director at Invu 

Over one in five Finance decision-makers (23%) rated their company’s payment performance as average to awful at the beginning of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced digital transformation on lots of businesses, and the finance department should not be any different.

Small to medium-sized businesses often fall on hard times because they are suffering from poor cash flow due to late payments being received from partners and customers.

The remote working revolution, brought about by Covid-19, has been easier for some businesses than others. But, if not having the right tools and processes in place makes you the late payment villain for your suppliers and partners, then the fix is easy: automate your Accounts Payable function.

The Agile Finance Business Partner

By Anders Liu-Lindberg, The Business Partnering Institute

It is 10 AM Monday morning and agile teams within a financial services company are about to start their fortnightly sprint planning meetings. Preparing for the meeting, the product owner of one agile team spent an hour with his finance business partner. The business partner had reviewed the sprint backlog and made a financial assessment of each of the items in the backlog. 

They discussed the pro’s and con’s of each item considering the benefits for the customer into the discussion. In preparation for the meeting, the business partner had assessed how each item could positively impact the customer experience and brand reputation of the company. Utilizing this input, they jointly did a holistic scoring of each item considering both financial and non-financial metrics and prioritized what items should go into the next sprint.

How CFOs can make the most of business intelligence

Big data has meant chief financial officers are investing in smart software which can increase their effectiveness and standing with the board.

From Generation CFO

pexels photo 1400249The explosion of data in companies has left many chief financial officers (CFOs) struggling to manage the information. The result has been a surge in finance chiefs implementing business intelligence and analytics tools to help them address the issue. But these tools bring many challenges and opportunities that are forcing CFOs to redefine their data strategies, skills and mindset.

Gartner forecasts global revenue in the business intelligence and analytics software market to grow from $18.3 billion in 2017 to $22.8 billion in 2020. Most of this (79 per cent) comes from CFOs as finance is the department that most often invests in analytics, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

How are you going to lead finance to 2020 and beyond?

The Summit’s Advisory Board predict 5 critical levers

future of finance summit 2019 report covIn the run-up to Future of Finance and CFO Summit 2019, the event’s Advisory Board, responsible for shaping and guiding the 2019 agenda, were asked what they thought about the most significant opportunities presented by People – Technology – Business Partnering – and Data. Here’s what they said (it’s a great cheat sheet on how to really focus your powers on what matters!).

Download the report in full here.


Finance - are you checking your T&E blindspots?

We learn about blind spots when we first start driving, but it’s easy to forget to check them. It isn’t just driving where blind spots crop up. A recent survey of UK finance leaders revealed that 81% have got blind spots when it comes to their company’s travel, expense and invoice spend. Considering that a typical company spends over 10% of its annual budget on T&E alone, not having complete visibility has serious implications.

What's the acceptable number of slaves to have in your supply chain?

“How many slaves do you have in your supply chain?” isn’t the usual conversation opener that CEOs expect to have, but it’s one that Justin Dillon, Founder of Made in a Free World makes a point of asking. “It tends to make them sit up and focus,” he said, during our conversation during last week’s SAP AribaLive event. Founded in 2011, Justin set up the company after hearing harrowing stories about the modern day slavery that lies hidden deep within some of our supply chains.

Purchase to Pay - Why Procurement, Treasury and Finance Need to run on the same track

If you've happened to go to any conferences covering Purchase to Pay (P2P) recently, it’s likely that at some point you’d have heard, or taken part in a discussion about the extent of collaboration between the different areas of finance, Accounts Payable (AP) and procurement. It should be obvious that if, as an organisation, you’re trying to increase efficiencies, and are perhaps in the process of better P2P workflow implementation - that the different areas of purchase to pay should function well, interact well; cross-department.

Is your AP department still operating in isolation?

The accounts payable function can find itself operating within a bubble; cut off to some extent from the rest of the organisation in a constantly evolving environment where time is in short supply. The effect of this can be for the department to become insular, where the only measures are against past performance, and the only metrics used are the ones which were considered useful to that organisation at some point in the past.

Performance analysis - often ignored but important addition to P2P

By Matthew Pike This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Recently, I was asked to review a business case for a procure-to-pay implementation, and I found myself reaching for the ‘Insert-New Comment’ icon the moment I opened the document entitled: “Business case for the implementation of a Procure-to-Pay system”. Somewhat glibly, I added the comment ‘Consider changing to “Business case for achieving world-class performance across all Procure-to-Pay activities”’.

T&E expenses - plenty of blame if you get it wrong

T&E expenses are still an area beset with problems – from lost receipts, accusations of favouritism to outright fraud.  On top of this, there’s the added issue of employees claiming that they simply "didn't know" whether they were able to claim for certain items or not, so just included them amongst their other receipts and hoped for the best, or didn't include anything at all.  Clear knowledge on what is a legitimate expense claim and what isn't is common across many organisations. The issue was confirmed in a recent report by Capital One, where it found that up to 45% fail to make any claims, at an average personal cost of more than £350.

Top Tips from Award Winning Teams

vision-success-paidWith the UK economy still struggling its way out of recession, it’s no surprise that more than 50% of finance professionals have highlighted difficulties in achieving their targets - pointing to a lack of time or resources available to deliver them. For many “doing more with less” presents itself as a tough reality with a very precise impact on daily activities and results. Yet, despite broad variations in industry and organisation size, many of the teams who were winners and finalists in the APN 2013 AP awards were able to achieve success by following a similar set of processes. Here are some of their top tips:

Accounts Payable Metrics Improve Retail Efficiency


Retailers are operating in a world which is vastly different from a few years ago. Faced with competition from across the globe, those organisations who fail to adapt and meet the new challenges will find themselves out of touch and out of business. With an ever increasing growth in the power of the consumer via internet and mobile purchasing applications, organisations need to be resourceful and innovative when tracking how trade is affected and adapt to suit. Nowhere is this more important than in Accounts Payable.

Is your Organisation facing cuts in spending?

If you work within the public sector you could be forgiven for feeling more than a little anxious over the last couple of months. You’ve been aware that cuts are coming, but you didn’t know when, how much, or if they’d affect you directly. Many of those within the corporate sector have been under the same cloud, though perhaps without the same inevitability.

What Happens when Best Practice is Ignored?

Most organisations know that they should be aiming towards best practice processes - but what does it really mean - and can something as diverse as accounts payable ever be constrained to a simple set of rules across all organisations? If we're talking about specifics, the answer is probably no - but the general framework and methods of working can be aligned in a way that can be translated across AP departments regardless of size, to some extent industry and internal culture.

Performance Metrics - What's the Story?

Where There's AP, there's Paper

When a never ending flurry of paperwork continues to fall on a supposedly “paper-free” Accounts Payable department and someone mentions making better use of performance metrics, AP professionals would be forgiven for dismissing them as something they simply don’t have the time for. However, with the inception of automated software, their implementation can save time, add value, increase efficiency and,  if used with outcomes in mind from the start, can raise the game of the Accounts Payable function.

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Please fill in the form below to access our exclusive Focus Week videos

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Avalara helps businesses of all sizes get tax compliance right. In partnership with leading ERP, accounting, eCommerce and other financial management system providers, Avalara delivers cloudbased compliance solutions for various transactional taxes, including sales and use, VAT, GST, excise, communications, lodging, and other indirect tax types. Headquartered in Seattle, Avalara has offices across the U.S. and around the world in Canada, the U.K., Belgium, Brazil, and India.