5 ways software helps humans be more human

People don’t come to work every day to be bored. At least, they shouldn’t have to. In an ideal world, people come to work to do a job they’re proud of, to earn a salary they’re worth and to make a contribution towards some larger goals. In an ideal world, this is true for all companies, but it is particularly true in the software industry – when we get it right!

Daniel Pink wrote about three different motivators: autonomy, mastery and purpose, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. What software should do is allow humans to be more human, to do what we do better. It should allow us to do work that helps us feel independent, get better at what we do and believe we’re making a difference.

That’s why, after working in the software industry for 20 years, I believe that it’s important to remind ourselves sometimes that software is not about the technology. At least, it shouldn’t be.

(Full disclosure: I’m the VP of EMEA for Basware, a software company. Our software helps companies manage the money that flows through their companies in the form of invoices and purchase orders. One of our customers calls it, “a forward-thinking and innovative P2P platform” but, simply, it’s a tool to help accounts payable (AP), purchasing and operations teams do their jobs more easily, so they can do more meaningful work.)

These five reasons are why I believe software helps humans be more human.

1. Software prevents us from being tied to a desk

If you were able to work from home during the pandemic, that was probably thanks to the software you use. Now employees are expecting to be able to work while they walk the dog, too. App-based software like Basware has mobile compatibility which allows users to approve invoices on their mobile devices.

In the case of our customer ISS Sweden, this feature was originally particularly helpful for the delivery department who often work outside of the office. Now it’s helpful for everyone who buys goods or services, approves or signs off on purchase orders, and who issues, approves and pays invoices.

We’re proud to have heard our customers say, “The team exceeded our expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic when we had to switch to fully remote ways of working.”

2. Software lets us invest time back into identifying problems, and solving the root causes

Automating processes is great. However life is messy, and invoices and purchase orders can be, too. When an automated system is in place there are always exceptions. But when you focus on continuous improvement and the system allows you to fine-tune processes it’s possible to identify bottlenecks, apply new rules, and further automate processes over time. By identifying root causes, the next time these transactions come around they, too, can be automated.

Our customers believe this too. For example, one AP leader in the services industry says, “Basware optimises the P2P process overall!” While another customer, a P2P Knowledge Specialist at a company with $500M turnover says the following:

“What we like best is the flexibility to set out the solution to fit the level of control decided within our company, and to support our defined finance and operational processes. The level of automation making it possible to achieve "zero-touch" in all steps of invoice handling and compliant accounting.” – Basware customer

This zero-touch goal is one that we believe is so important. Why get involved in a process if you don’t have to? Improving automation flows helps let teams focus on what matters.

3. Software enables continuous improvement

I don’t believe that processes always exist for the same reason. They might have been created for one reason but when the time comes to use a different tool, or system, it should also be an opportunity to re-imagine the way a process should work, in an ideal world. When software fosters an environment of continuous improvements – for example, by putting rules in place so partly automated processes can become even more automated.

A Basware customer who leads Finance for a $30bn+ company says that their focus is on continuous growth. They know our focus is to “improve products in the finance market, no matter what the industry is”. But they’ve also used our Accounts Payable product and have “found it to be very business relevant and improve the process flow”.

If massive organisations can embrace change and process improvement, anyone can.

4. Software can help improve relationships

How well are your suppliers doing? Do you know? What happens if they were to go out of business? The right software can actually help you see their performance and even help you help them when times are tough.

That’s what some of our customers did during COVID. They knew their suppliers, including a lot of small businesses, were struggling. They could have decided to maintain long payment terms. But, instead, they chose to help them out. By analysing the facts, looking at the performance of the suppliers, and seeing what intrinsic value they provide to the business, they decided to prioritise payments to those smaller suppliers to keep them in business.

That’s what happens when you have what one of our customers calls an, “excellent P2P solution for global corporations supported by efficient project management”: a partnership.

Great software isn’t just about putting a tool in place that people forget about – it’s actually about building long-lasting, trusted relationships that creates improvements over time.

5. Software helps us understand what the numbers really mean

Many types of software provide metrics that give users visibility. But it’s not just about having tools that input data and spit it out again in a different format, it’s about knowing what those numbers really mean and what they’re telling you.

For example: as one of our clients says, it’s about knowing what you actually bought, not just what you spent. The more data you have at a granular level, the more of the bigger picture you can see, and the more you can zoom back in to the granular, to solve bigger problems.

Another of our customers says that the Basware analytics capability is very strong, claiming that, “it helps us easily track key KPIs”.

What kind of KPIs should you have in place for improving accounts payable? This helpful ebook about 10 business-critical AP metrics for the competitive CFO lists them. They include PO-based invoice volumes, average cost per invoice and late payment percentages.

Conclusion: software should help employees do more of what they do best: be more human.

We use software every single day of our lives. Though, sometimes we forget that, in a work context, a tool should help our employees do more of what they do best. It should also help them be more human.

If you’re interested in using human-led e-invoicing and purchase-to-pay software to help your teams be more human, while enabling continuous improvement, please reach out to my team. We can help provide “P2P software that delivers good results for the company”. At least, that’s what one of our customers with more than $1B revenue tells us. For more details on our customer stories click here.

Vice President APAC Basware