- 3 Takeaways from our webinar: Raising the Bar in eProcurement
3 Takeaways from our webinar: Raising the Bar in eProcurement
What makes a leading eProcurement platform? In our most recent webinar, we joined forces with Forrester to learn what innovations and mindsets are raising the bar for procurement solutions. In this blog, we’ll cover three key concepts from our recent webinar that every procurement and finance professional should take into account.
In the webinar we were joined by Sami Peltonen, Vice President of Purchase-to-Pay Product Management at Basware and guest speaker, Vice President and Principal Analyst Duncan Jones at Forrester, who discussed what makes a superior eProcurement platform. With the procurement and finance landscape continuing to become more and more complicated, the needs for highly advanced, automated solutions are increasing – and leading procurement platforms are rising to meet the challenge.
Procurement has transformed from being a mere process-centric operation to become more about giving control back to managers through redefining value, empowering users, and creating human-driven procurement whilst still using advances in technology to streamline manual processes.
1. Refreshing the idea of “best value solutions”
One recurring problem for procurement departments is dealing with maverick or rogue spenders. We’ve learned that maverick spending is more likely to occur when procurement processes aren’t easy and there are two common factors to untracked spending.
The first is when your rogue buyers are trying to quickly help a client and, in that rush, will often avoid processes altogether. So even though they’re being customer-centric, they’ve accidentally put procurement compliance second.
The second reason for uncontrolled spending happens when users don’t shop around for a better deal because the process is tedious, there's a of lack of AI being applied by the tool to recommend products, or they’re simply scrapped for time. In these instances, they buy whatever they want, meaning that your business can suffer from wasteful spending, uneven price/value trade-offs, and using new and unknown suppliers.
For this to change, it’s critical to bring a B2C experience to B2B processes. With an intuitive eProcurement solution, it becomes possible to both encourage best value buying and track who is ignoring suggestions. This should make it easier to identify maverick spending and understand how to improve the process.
2. Empowering users with automation
Using technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation offers procurement professionals more control than ever before. Rather than just monitoring users, it is now possible to give them the authority and power needed to work better and smarter, using tools like exception reports instead of in-line approvals to highlight areas that need a closer look.
Currently, two main types of AI are transforming the procurement approval process:
Machine learning estimates associated risk level with purchases. This makes it easier for managers to decide which queries require more of their time than others.
Neural networks embedded in the AI recognise patterns from earlier fraudulent or wasteful charges. For example, the procurement solution can identify suppliers who consistently overcharge.
These are just two of the innovations that emphasise how important it is to choose and implement the right eProcurement solution. You need to look at the leading P2P vendors highlighted by the “The Forrester Wave™️: eProcurement Platforms, Q4 2019” and see how they are applying AI and what value it can provide for your organisation.
3. Become proactive with AP tech
Leading procurement platforms are focusing on 100% spend visibility more than ever. Instead of drilling down into data, the mindset has changed to how to interpret it and how to automate manual processes to make Procurement more efficient. In addition, a strong procurement solution needs to be able to integrate with any existing ERP solutions. Automating your AP department gives you a wealth of rich data for analytics, but if you don’t have an e-procurement solution as well, you’re not able to truly get 100% spend visibility and all of your spend under management. For true spend visibility, all your procurement must be processed through a core platform, which means your end users have to use it.
When it comes to achieving a higher level of touchless spend management, Basware paves the way with fully automated and integrated AP systems. Regardless of invoice type, all can be automatically processed. One example is using state of the art machine learning (ML) to automatically code invoices, even when there’s no purchase order (PO). And since we recommend all this data flows through a centralised system, you can use this information to better understand not only your real-time spend, but also predict future spend before it happens.
To better identify proactive solutions, Forrester offers a set of key differentiators:
Human-driven procurement, products and services, including invoice capture and validation and software-generated POs.
High adoption by employees, managers and suppliers.
Regular improvements in spend management and process efficiency.
Guiding users to smart choices using automated validation and AI.
Furthermore, Forrester highlights how specialist platforms will be far more open and efficient than the multi-suite options. Rather than attempt to be a full end-to-end suite, leading platforms are adopting microservice architectures and productised integrations with other platforms to create seamless P2P ecosystems. Which makes us ponder – are the full P2P suite days gone?