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How Blockchain can
bring Greater Value to
Procure-to-Pay Processes
Blockchain as a technology and concept continues to be hyped in the financial
services industry. Experimental approaches and innovations like Accenture’s
redactable blockchain are emerging and are of great interest and appeal to the
financial sector. As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful
with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of the financial
services industry.
Its purpose is to deliver transparency,
security and efficiency in transactions.
In our view, blockchain technology’s
strengths are well-demonstrated in
supporting objective, distributed, evenly-
balanced control in situations where this
is difficult to secure, such as international
payments. The technology also provides
transparency in vital areas like anti-money
laundering (AML) and can add efficiency,
trust and reach to global financial markets
where current processes are challenged
in their ability to handle the volume
and velocity of data that needs to be
assessed in day-to-day operations.
Procure-to-Pay (PTP) is the multi-step
process connecting a client with one
or more service/product providers.
Among other activities, it allows for
the identification and authentication of
stakeholders, budgeting, service provision,
invoicing and payment settlement. Among
the current challenges faced by PTP
programs are generating sustainable cost
reductions through disintermediation,
efficiency improvement, fraud control
and transparency enhancement.
Blockchain technology can disrupt
PTP processes and more importantly
provide huge operational benefits in
terms of speed, greater security and
decreased workload by facilitating the
exchange of information. The following
outlines how blockchain technology
can bring value to key PTP processes.
Front-end system
A front-end interface is recommended to
authorize vendors, define new catalogs,
place purchase orders or sign contracts.
This application can be an add-on to the
blockchain or could be leveraged through
existing procurement systems, if vendors
decide to adopt this technology.
Improved validation and
authentication
These would benefit from blockchain
technology. A blockchain would support
swift distribution of authentication
rights along the PTP chain, thereby
helping to prevent fraud and improve
security across the PTP process.
Accelerated purchase order
management
Purchase order and good receipt data
would be exchanged on the blockchain at
an accelerated pace when compared to
current performance levels. As well, the
blockchain could help identify the nearest
and most cost effective vendor within the
network. This would help decrease lead
time and workload associated with vendor
searches, the processing of purchase
orders and goods/services receipts.
Reshaped invoice processing
Invoice scanning would no longer be
required thanks to shared access to the
database, with the exchange of invoices
supported by the blockchain. This would
also help render the reconciliation process
far less cumbersome as all authorized
parties could review the same transaction,
eliminating the need for reconciliations.
Blockchain hosted transactions would
feed into the company’s general ledger
for general accounting and financial
reporting purposes.
Accelerated settlements
These would be accelerated as reconciliations
and vendor/end user enquiries would not be
required due to complete transparency and
real-time access to shared database. This
could potentially disrupt in a positive sense
business practices such as the standard
D+30 days settlement deadline.
Streamlined enquiries
management
Blockchain’s greater transparency would
diminish the need for enquiries and process
status follow-ups, thus streamlining current
enquiry management and control processes.
Reduced money laundering risk
By permanently retaining historical payment
information, suspicious transactions can be
more easily identified.
Greater trust among stakeholders
Blockchain technology would help increase
trust among clients and vendors through
shared public IDs, simple and fair referral
mechanisms and ratings/scores assigned to
all market players based on the quality of
the goods, reliability in delivery and timely
payment of invoices. The accumulated and
stored history of transactions would also
help build trust and transparency.
Strong audit trail
As all parties are registered in the
ledger, transactions are stored and a
tamper‑proof audit trail is maintained.
This type of end-to-end visibility into
procurement is a well-established practice
in the tracking of physical goods.
Greater security of transactions
This can be attained through cloud-based
contract repository and an integrated
e-sign feature that verifies signer identity
and authorization.
Source: Accenture, September 2016
Blockchain PTP Process
Allow vendor to
submit e-invoices
Load contract into
contract repository
Allow for/update
catalog in
purchasing system
Allow vendor or
update vendor
master data
Create and approve
requisition or spot buy
Certification
of reception
Low impact
Scanning no
longer required
Process invoices
Low cost
Low benefits
Investigate and resolve
invoice exceptions
Low cost
Medium to high benefits
Fulfill PO and track order
High sensitivity to
the client situation
Diminished need to
handle vendor/end
user inquiries through
support center
Issue payment
and remittance
to vendor
Low cost
Medium to
high benefits
Validate accuracy of
payment, payment
run and perform
reconciliations
Low cost
Medium to
high benefits
Process payment
Low cost
Medium to
high benefits
Sensitive to
baseline situation
Medium impact
Blockchain impact
Baseline cost
Issue purchase
order (PO)
Low cost
Low benefits
Use of digital age
cryptocurrencies
Blockchain technology allows firms to use
this digital-based medium of exchange
which is based on financial institution
generated currency. It also offers users
instantaneous transactions, near real‑time
logging and audit capabilities, thus providing
borderless transfer of ownership.
Speed of execution
Blockchain technology provides a
secured transaction ledger database,
shared between vendors and client for
additional efficiency gains. The database
is immediately updated to reflect any new
transaction, thus accelerating the consent
and validation of work orders and invoices.
Before applying blockchain to a PTP
business, there are a few decisions
and actions that should be taken.
•	A business case for adopting the PTP
blockchain should be performed. It should
encompass all pre-existing procurement
assets such as PTP cloud, enterprise
resource planning, business process
outsourcing (BPO) and people deployed
to the PTP. It should also balance the
benefits of adopting blockchain with
the cost of integrating this technology
to existing systems such as validation
workflows, accounting system and
the cost to address cyber security.
•	Adoption of a private or a public
blockchain? A public blockchain would
help reduce complexity and entry costs
but would require a new certification
process for all parties. Challenges to
doing so include the fact that there are
no global authorities entitled to perform
this certification, and such actions
might be considered infringements on
transnational free trade agreements.
As for a private blockchain, it could
help increase security issues as well as
disadvantaging the weaker participant(s)
in the transaction (e.g. a vendor would
have to handle multiple private
blockchains).
As in all its current blockchain
engagements, Accenture can work
with clients from ideation to design
and through the prototyping steps in
order to demonstrate blockchain’s real
world benefits in a PTP application.
Copyright © 2016 Accenture
All rights reserved.
Accenture, its logo, and
High Performance Delivered
are trademarks of Accenture. 16-3585
For more information,
please contact
Philippe Guyonnet
Managing Director,
Accenture Finance & Risk
philippe.guyonnet@accenture.com
+33 1-5323 4713
Hamdi Mohammed
Managing Director,
Accenture Finance & Risk
hamdi.mohammed@accenture.com
+33 1-5323 4755
About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional
services company, providing a broad
range of services and solutions in
strategy, consulting, digital, technology
and operations. Combining unmatched
experience and specialized skills across
more than 40 industries and all business
functions—underpinned by the world’s
largest delivery network—Accenture
works at the intersection of business and
technology to help clients improve their
performance and create sustainable value
for their stakeholders. With approximately
384,000 people serving clients in more than
120 countries, Accenture drives innovation
to improve the way the world works and
lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
Disclaimer
This document is intended for general
informational purposes only and does not
take into account the reader’s specific
circumstances, and may not reflect the
most current developments. Accenture
disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted
by applicable law, any and all liability
for the accuracy and completeness of
the information in this presentation and
for any acts or omissions made based
on such information. Accenture does
not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or
tax advice. Readers are responsible for
obtaining such advice from their own legal
counsel or other licensed professionals.

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How Blockchain can bring Greater Value to Procure to Pay Processes

  • 1. How Blockchain can bring Greater Value to Procure-to-Pay Processes
  • 2. Blockchain as a technology and concept continues to be hyped in the financial services industry. Experimental approaches and innovations like Accenture’s redactable blockchain are emerging and are of great interest and appeal to the financial sector. As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of the financial services industry. Its purpose is to deliver transparency, security and efficiency in transactions. In our view, blockchain technology’s strengths are well-demonstrated in supporting objective, distributed, evenly- balanced control in situations where this is difficult to secure, such as international payments. The technology also provides transparency in vital areas like anti-money laundering (AML) and can add efficiency, trust and reach to global financial markets where current processes are challenged in their ability to handle the volume and velocity of data that needs to be assessed in day-to-day operations. Procure-to-Pay (PTP) is the multi-step process connecting a client with one or more service/product providers. Among other activities, it allows for the identification and authentication of stakeholders, budgeting, service provision, invoicing and payment settlement. Among the current challenges faced by PTP programs are generating sustainable cost reductions through disintermediation, efficiency improvement, fraud control and transparency enhancement. Blockchain technology can disrupt PTP processes and more importantly provide huge operational benefits in terms of speed, greater security and decreased workload by facilitating the exchange of information. The following outlines how blockchain technology can bring value to key PTP processes. Front-end system A front-end interface is recommended to authorize vendors, define new catalogs, place purchase orders or sign contracts. This application can be an add-on to the blockchain or could be leveraged through existing procurement systems, if vendors decide to adopt this technology. Improved validation and authentication These would benefit from blockchain technology. A blockchain would support swift distribution of authentication rights along the PTP chain, thereby helping to prevent fraud and improve security across the PTP process. Accelerated purchase order management Purchase order and good receipt data would be exchanged on the blockchain at an accelerated pace when compared to current performance levels. As well, the blockchain could help identify the nearest and most cost effective vendor within the network. This would help decrease lead time and workload associated with vendor searches, the processing of purchase orders and goods/services receipts. Reshaped invoice processing Invoice scanning would no longer be required thanks to shared access to the database, with the exchange of invoices supported by the blockchain. This would also help render the reconciliation process far less cumbersome as all authorized parties could review the same transaction, eliminating the need for reconciliations. Blockchain hosted transactions would feed into the company’s general ledger for general accounting and financial reporting purposes. Accelerated settlements These would be accelerated as reconciliations and vendor/end user enquiries would not be required due to complete transparency and real-time access to shared database. This could potentially disrupt in a positive sense business practices such as the standard D+30 days settlement deadline. Streamlined enquiries management Blockchain’s greater transparency would diminish the need for enquiries and process status follow-ups, thus streamlining current enquiry management and control processes. Reduced money laundering risk By permanently retaining historical payment information, suspicious transactions can be more easily identified. Greater trust among stakeholders Blockchain technology would help increase trust among clients and vendors through shared public IDs, simple and fair referral mechanisms and ratings/scores assigned to all market players based on the quality of the goods, reliability in delivery and timely payment of invoices. The accumulated and stored history of transactions would also help build trust and transparency. Strong audit trail As all parties are registered in the ledger, transactions are stored and a tamper‑proof audit trail is maintained. This type of end-to-end visibility into procurement is a well-established practice in the tracking of physical goods. Greater security of transactions This can be attained through cloud-based contract repository and an integrated e-sign feature that verifies signer identity and authorization.
  • 3. Source: Accenture, September 2016 Blockchain PTP Process Allow vendor to submit e-invoices Load contract into contract repository Allow for/update catalog in purchasing system Allow vendor or update vendor master data Create and approve requisition or spot buy Certification of reception Low impact Scanning no longer required Process invoices Low cost Low benefits Investigate and resolve invoice exceptions Low cost Medium to high benefits Fulfill PO and track order High sensitivity to the client situation Diminished need to handle vendor/end user inquiries through support center Issue payment and remittance to vendor Low cost Medium to high benefits Validate accuracy of payment, payment run and perform reconciliations Low cost Medium to high benefits Process payment Low cost Medium to high benefits Sensitive to baseline situation Medium impact Blockchain impact Baseline cost Issue purchase order (PO) Low cost Low benefits Use of digital age cryptocurrencies Blockchain technology allows firms to use this digital-based medium of exchange which is based on financial institution generated currency. It also offers users instantaneous transactions, near real‑time logging and audit capabilities, thus providing borderless transfer of ownership. Speed of execution Blockchain technology provides a secured transaction ledger database, shared between vendors and client for additional efficiency gains. The database is immediately updated to reflect any new transaction, thus accelerating the consent and validation of work orders and invoices. Before applying blockchain to a PTP business, there are a few decisions and actions that should be taken. • A business case for adopting the PTP blockchain should be performed. It should encompass all pre-existing procurement assets such as PTP cloud, enterprise resource planning, business process outsourcing (BPO) and people deployed to the PTP. It should also balance the benefits of adopting blockchain with the cost of integrating this technology to existing systems such as validation workflows, accounting system and the cost to address cyber security. • Adoption of a private or a public blockchain? A public blockchain would help reduce complexity and entry costs but would require a new certification process for all parties. Challenges to doing so include the fact that there are no global authorities entitled to perform this certification, and such actions might be considered infringements on transnational free trade agreements. As for a private blockchain, it could help increase security issues as well as disadvantaging the weaker participant(s) in the transaction (e.g. a vendor would have to handle multiple private blockchains). As in all its current blockchain engagements, Accenture can work with clients from ideation to design and through the prototyping steps in order to demonstrate blockchain’s real world benefits in a PTP application.
  • 4. Copyright © 2016 Accenture All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture. 16-3585 For more information, please contact Philippe Guyonnet Managing Director, Accenture Finance & Risk philippe.guyonnet@accenture.com +33 1-5323 4713 Hamdi Mohammed Managing Director, Accenture Finance & Risk hamdi.mohammed@accenture.com +33 1-5323 4755 About Accenture Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 384,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com. Disclaimer This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals.