By Lyssa Campbell, NAPCP Communications Manager
Peek through the kitchen window at a gourmet restaurant and you’ll see the staff bustling around independently, yet entirely together to produce a delicious, high-quality meal in the shortest amount of time.
Now, view the purchase-to-pay process at an organization from the same viewpoint. Do you often see one department in charge of the commercial card program, struggling to build consensus, support – and indeed, enthusiasm – for its efficient, cost-saving benefits?
The NAPCP challenges providers to play an integral role in helping programs take off, by encouraging organizations to build a collective mindset that involves treasury, accounts payable and procurement.
According to the NAPCP’s 2013 Salary Survey, the majority of purchasing card or procurement card (P-Card) programs are now managed by procurement.
A recent NAPCP eNetworking post may explain why.
“When we started the P-Card program, accounting did not see much advantage – so it fell to purchasing to light the fire. Our purchasing office was drowning in purchasing requests, sometimes for items less than $1. They had no authority to turn away requests. So purchasing first dedicated one employee to the program, then over time, the number of POs went from 22,000 to 2,500. The wait time for a purchase order went from 23 days to fewer than five. In my experience, the P-Card program saved procurement.”
How can providers become players in success stories like these?
1. Educate customers, suppliers and management on the benefits of card programs
2. Encourage end-users to promote P-Card opportunities to all internal departments through regular meetings to discuss supplier relationships, upcoming purchasing projects and how P-Cards fit into purchasing activity
3. Ask procurement to provide metrics on the department’s P-Card usage and solicit feedback on how the program could improve
4. Provide industry benchmarks from best-practice organizations to help customers set and reach measurable goals
5. Tell customers that terms and conditions must be written into every contract when P-Card is the intended payment method (according to 2013 research by the NAPCP and First Annapolis Consulting, only 50 percent of organizations do this as a standard practice)
6. Help customers identify new suppliers that can be targeted for P-Card usage.
These efforts have been shown to pay off time and again.
“There is a shared interest in the success of the program,” noted another NAPCP eNetworking respondent. “We all work together to look for growth opportunities by encouraging our suppliers to accept the card, working with our colleagues to drive low-dollar, one-off invoices to the P-Card while educating colleagues and suppliers alike on the value of the P-Card program in our business process.”
Providers who engage their clients to achieve this level of success find themselves with loyal customers dedicated to optimizing their programs and increasing spend on commercial cards.
The NAPCP Resource Center (www.napcp.org/resourcecenter) contains a variety of educational material for members, including an example illustrating the economics of card acceptance, showing how—for an average P-Card transaction—suppliers can save money. Another valuable tool is a downloadable spreadsheet to help members evaluate purchase-to-pay process costs.
About the NAPCP
NAPCP (www.napcp.org) is a membership-based professional association committed to advancing Commercial Card and Payment professionals and industry practices worldwide. The NAPCP is a respected voice in the industry, serving as an impartial resource for more than 13,000 members and subscribers at all experience levels in the public and private sectors. The NAPCP provides unmatched opportunities for continuing education and peer networking through its Conferences, Regional Forums, webinars, website, virtual demonstrations, newsletters and regular communication. The association sponsors research and publishes timely and relevant white papers, survey results and other documents. The NAPCP offers a Certified Purchasing Card Professional (CPCP) credential. Visit http://www.napcp.org to learn more about Commercial Card and payment programs in general, the value of membership, current member demographics, upcoming events and benefits of becoming a year-round partner sponsor.
Lyssa Campbell, NAPCP Communications Manager
Lyssa Campbell joined the NAPCP as Communications Manager in 2007. She has more than 25 years’ experience in copywriting, editing and technical writing. Prior to joining the NAPCP, Campbell worked in communications for two software development firms, a national laboratory and as a freelance/consulting writer.