The evolution of the Global Process Owner

Assuming greater levels of authority and influence

Last year Tungsten partnered with sharedserviceslink to delve deeper into the role of the Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) Global Process Owner (GPO). A relatively new yet increasingly important position, little was known about the GPO and we sought to rectify this.

Today we and the market know a lot more about the critical role GPOs play, and this is thanks in part to sharedserviceslink, which last week hosted its annual Summit for Global Process Owners, which brought together finance-focused GPOs from around the world to share best practice and shed light on what makes them tick, and why companies need them.

Among the many things that were clarified last week was the development of the GPO role, which is maturing and assuming greater levels of authority and influence in companies that have recognised their value. The summit defined the GPO mission and examined what it is that makes a Process Owner world class.

It was interesting, although perhaps not too surprising, that many of the takeaways from the event corresponded with the findings of our own research. In general, the GPOs in the room were in agreement in how they add value and where they have opportunities to do better. And while the individuals and their roles have different levels of maturity, there was a great deal of consensus. For the most part, they shared similar pain points and also had matching elements of success, including decision making authority, senior management support and a sharp focus on process design and improvements.

Our own research, which surveyed around 100 P2P professionals, had revealed the following five factors that can make all the difference to P2P process ownership success (you can view the full infographic here).


Sharedserviceslink CEO Susie West also shared her own top ten factors to GPO success at the event, which were informed by insights provided by the expert GPOs in attendance.

These top ten takeaways reinforce, and add to, our own findings. Current and future GPOs should take note!

  1. There are six pillars of success: decision making, proximity to senior executives, end-to-end, authority, budget, and senior management buy-in
  2. Keep the GPOs focused on process design and improvement, i.e. THE FUTURE. Someone has to really care about the P2P process, and that someone should be the GPO. It’s also important to separate operations from ownership, and process design from process running
  3. Remove the management distraction. If GPOs are to maintain the aforementioned focus, they shouldn’t be side-tracked by recruitment and HR issues
  4. Make sure bonuses and incentives are aligned for GPOs, project managers and key stakeholders
  5. Scorecards and dashboards should be working documents
  6. Proximity to C-suite. It’s not just about reporting distance, YOU can create the proximity (good communication will help)
  7. Think about cross charging, for example, penalties for non PO-backed invoices
  8. Pull in the Process Owner for Compliance if you meet with resistance
  9. League tables are a great tool and should be regularly sent to the leadership team
  10. The GPO is not a graduate role, and a fair bit of experience is required as well as a good degree of subject matter expertise (former heads of Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable are particularly well-suited to the role). It helps if they know the business (and are able to negotiate any internal politics), and have strong process expertise. It’s also a role suited to strong characters, who have the confidence to enforce change and go toe-to-toe with the larger personalities in the business (and that confidence comes with experience)

When reporting back from last year’s summit, we somewhat optimistically suggested that the GPO may soon be as valued as the CFO. We’re not quite there yet, but there is a growing recognition amongst businesses about the importance of this role, and Tungsten is talking to more and more GPOs about how process automation can make a big difference to their P2P initiatives.

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