4 things to keep in mind for streamlined invoicing and purchasing processes

Today’s remote work environment has proven that electronic procurement and invoicing processes are critical to keeping cash flowing during disruptive times. No longer is digitisation only for companies proactively looking to transform their finance and procurement departments. It’s now a method of survival, as companies navigate their “new normal”. In this blog, we breakdown four key considerations to help you successfully change your processes and strengthen your supplier relationships.

My family and I reside in Finland, where Basware is headquartered, but before COVID-19 I worked for a year and a half in our United States offices. Upon arriving and joining sales meetings with current and prospective clients, I quickly realised that Finnish companies were much further along in their digital journey, especially concerning invoice automation. Almost all businesses in Finland accept electronic invoices, and actually, most require it. In the US, and many other countries, this percentage is much lower.

As we fast forward to the present time, I feel compelled to share the experiences we have gained with our Finnish customers over the years, to help deliver best-in-class solutions to other countries that may not be as quick to adopt. We’ve already overcome product challenges, so today’s product development is focused on continued innovation and partnering with customers based on our expertise – not just a strong marketing story.

I’ve identified these four key points to keep in mind as you turn your attention to improving your purchasing, billing, and service center operations.

1. When in doubt, provide options

I start with this point because like any project the deliverable can seem daunting and overwhelming. Many change management projects fail because of unrealistic plans or expectations. If the goals are set too high, it will be difficult or even impossible to reach them. It is crucial to think about what is really possible today to build a realistic plan.

For example, take a multi-national media production company that has operations around the world and tens of thousands of suppliers in 50 countries. In a global operating environment, it’s challenging to get all suppliers onboarded into their new e-invoicing solution.

Initially, the first step was to connect the primary suppliers through e-invoicing. Long tail suppliers were asked to log in to the portal where they can enter their invoices. However, managers soon realised that it was very unrealistic to expect such a large number of suppliers from 50 different countries to log on to their system. A more realistic approach for this client is to let long tail suppliers do what they have always done, submit PDF invoices. With Basware, suppliers can send invoices in PDF format via email. Basware can read the structured data from the PDF using AI and converts it into an electronic invoice. This allowed the client to get the most complete and accurate data into their accounting system(s), without asking their suppliers to work any differently.

When changing a process, it is important to make a fair assessment of everyone's willingness to change their behavior. Offering suppliers a choice is a great way to build trust and support, and in this case, many suppliers eventually were onboarded to true e-invoicing.

2. Flexibility is essential for practical solutions

A standard, one-size-fits-all solution doesn't work for everyone. In fact, analysts agree that the days of the end-to-end suite from a single vendor are over. Many processes within an organisation are specific to their way of working, so a one-size-fits-all approach cannot fulfill all needs. For example, the "no purchase order, no pay" policy may not be feasible in every situation. Find out what is relevant for your organisation to ensure user adoption from suppliers and internal departments.

Basware has a proud history of providing innovative technologies and source-to-pay (S2P) solutions to our customers. But we understand that being a leader in the industry means recognising where we fit into the larger landscape for each client.

3. Technology is advancing faster than ever

Technology is constantly evolving, and recent innovations enable continuous process improvement for even the most high-tech organisations. With Basware’s cloud-based solutions, users can access real-time benchmarking reports to track what top organisations have been able to do. You can benchmark against other customers to see the baseline of cost management, automation, or e-invoicing and set your goals to a realistic level. As technology continues to advance, cloud-based solutions make sure you’re on the most up-to-date version, making it more accessible and user-friendly to all users.

4. Take advantage of real-time data

Building business transparency is a crucial part of increasing consumer trust, keeping up with the pace of business, and economic changes. More and more, customers want transparency into what they’re purchasing, manufacturing processes, and the ethical and environmental repercussions of their transactions. Equally, organisations want data that reveals these same transparencies into their own business processes.

Data is great. But what if your data is incomplete because you don’t have a system that’s able to pull 100% of your spend data into one core location? It’s not uncommon to have multiple ERPs and other financial systems, but without centralising your procure-to-pay (P2P) activities, your visibility is limited.

Here are a few shortfalls you may be experiencing if you’re not capturing 100% of your spend data:

  • It's difficult to know exactly what sort of spend has already happened and is going to happen in the future

  • You can't forecast and plan for the future confidently

  • It's proving difficult to gain control

Achieving 100% visibility enables fact-based decision making and prioritisation. With ready-made reports or completely customised reports, analysis of your business data is quick and easy. In addition to reporting, Basware's tools provide predictive analytics and data-driven suggestions based on prior data, so you can predict the probability that an invoice will be paid on-time. 

Keep reading and learn more.

Advanced data, improving technology, and flexibility can help you make realistic goals – and meet them. In the 2020 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) report, 90% of executives said that increased transparency leads to better-informed decisions. Learn how you can take these 4 tips to the next level with insight from almost 800 global executives in this Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report.

VP of Purchase to Pay Product Management, Basware Sami Peltonen, is VP of P2P Product Management. Sami boasts more than two decades developing and delivering solutions that streamline procurement and finance professionals’ daily lives, enabling them to achieve greater efficiencies within their organisations. Sami currently leads Basware’s P2P Roadmap and Product strategy.