Optimising financial processes

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What I Learned from the BP Purchase to Pay (P2P) Global Process Owner (GPO)


I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Mark Miles, former P2P Director at BP.

Global Process Ownership (GPO) is the ‘role de jour’ of the transformational business. Everyone is talking about it, many are doing it but few are doing it very well. Mark is one of the few.

Source to Pay (S2P) and its cousin Purchase to Pay (P2P), are the lowest hanging fruit for any organisation looking to drive value in hard cash terms. But it is not an easy road.

The BP experience in driving end to end process improvement in P2P is an important case study with lessons for us all. What I learned most was Mark’s experience and insight on ‘Getting things done’ in a large, complex organization. We all know the challenges, and some of the answers are simple in words but tough in action.

The BIG FIVE were;

  • Ensuring the Benefits Case is clearly defined and understood. The business case had all the usual components for P2P such as improving P2P efficiency, improving ‘Pay on Time’ performance, increasing spend visibility, bringing more spend under control but by far the biggest value for the stakeholders was increasing contract compliance. Contracts can be negotiated with suppliers, but the value is only driven out when those contract terms are actually used in practice to the benefit of the business.


  • Establishing a Sense of Urgency and Powerful Coalition. JP Kotter’s work focusses a lot on this, and it is no mean feat to achieve. Mark shared some experiences in gaining executive accountability and ensuring that it could not be delegated away into oblivion.
  • Defining Governance Structure and Authority. This is a process change not a ‘project’. Securing funding commitment against real outcomes is critical. But the governance framework for a global business is complex, and requires hard work to sustain from the Leadership Team, through Governance Board, Steering Committees, Project Leadership Teams, Change Networks and Subject Matter Experts, this is no easy feat.
  • Enabling the Global Process Owner. This role needs to be established (we have published much on this topic) and the leader needs to be someone who can lead with executive credibility. There needs to be bold thinking, commitment to outcomes but also consequences for non-compliance. Failure is not an option!
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Everything from keeping the message powerful yet simple such as  ‘Make Buying Great Again’, through to understanding the stakeholders and participants who can be the allies, the opponents or the indifferents. Communicate up, across, down and repeat with a compelling vision and benefits case, progress, roadblocks, actions. Don’t let momentum sag!

Ultimately Mark and I discussed and simplified this into three core themes;


This discussion raised interest with CFOs and senior finance and Shared Services executives, Purchase to Pay, Procurement and Accounts Payable leaders, current and aspiring Global Process Owners, those responsible for risk, control and compliance in a P2P context, and those leading IT and ERP enablement in support of the P2P and Finance cycles.

Mark shared powerful insights; across the topics of our discussion;

  • The P2P GPO Challenge
  • The BP Experience – Foundation Stones for the P2P GPO
  • Standardisation, Simplification & Automation
  • KPIs & Analytics for P2P
  • Governance – “Making it Happen”

Thanks for reading.

As always, please let me have your thoughts and feedback.

You can watch a recording of the full discussion at