Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: Basware (The Offering — Part 3)

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this post here and here.

In addition to providing electronic invoicing and management capability, including an "activation service" focused on driving greater invoice and PO exchange electronically with suppliers, Basware offers a menu of scan and capture services for suppliers that continue to exist in a paper world. In Basware's words, this service includes the receiving and "sorting of incoming mail, preparation of scan batches, invoice scanning, invoice data extraction, extraction results validation and delivery of invoices to the customer's invoice processing application." Together, the combination of Basware's e-invoicing capabilities and their scan and capture services provide as broad a range of overall invoice management capability for different tiers of supply sophistication in the market today.

For connectivity, Basware has predefined integration APIs into 250 different ERP systems, called AnyERP components. Basware is also in the early process of integrating alongside an Ariba environment at one very large deployment Spend Matters is aware of. For online document transfer/integration, Basware provides a range of different integration approaches. For suppliers sending more than 500 e-invoices/POs per month, Basware recommends what it describes as its Business Transaction Sender (BTS) capability, which "directly integrates with customer billing, order management or purchasing systems." Alternatively, Basware can enable batch-based integration via a scheduled FTP transfer system between buyers and suppliers. Other integration approaches include e-mail (using an SMTP mail client and Basware Connectivity services) with incorporated identification and validation services and a virtual printer approach, similar to other capabilities in the market where XML invoice data is automatically captured from the PDF-generated invoice/image file.

When suppliers are already transacting via a network, they can use their existing network operation connection image file to send e-invoices to buying organizations using Basware. Regardless of existing connectivity relationships, suppliers can use the Business Transactions Monitor Web Service within Basware's Connectivity service to drive self-service capabilities. For example, Basware suggests that this tool can display "all corporate received/sent transactions in process at the moment as well as the history of the transmitted transactions." Moreover, "authenticated users can open an invoice and view it as a HTML page as well as choose to download it for further evaluation" and "all steps in the invoice handling are available for evaluation." Access is tightly controlled based on user permissions on the supplier side (e.g., senior managers can be configured to see all information and invoices, even from subsidiaries). And "administrators may add and edit rules to route invoices to the recipient, manage traffic like reprocess, resend and reject invoices."

Basware Connectivity service validates all passing invoices based on the defined matching criteria as well as a "compliance check against the legal terms and review of all buyer required invoice fields." Despite the strict criteria, companies can define and deploy for automated matching and validation, Basware users typically enable over 90% of their invoice flow and matching with straight-through-processing. And for the minority of invoices flagged for exception, Basware has a predefined means to detect exceptions early.

Basware's validation and exception management approaches go beyond basic validation rules (e.g., "verifying that a field on the form is filled with a currency") to factoring in advanced validations, when configured, "such as matching a purchase order to goods that arrive in multiple separate deliveries, or providing the ability to validate that invoices are coded to the right departments and projects. Basware recommends what it describes as a 5-Way match whenever possible so that invoices are checked against purchase orders, goods receiving, quality inspections and potentially other steps that complete a full audit trail. For these, their software can also enable matching against what Basware describes as multi-dimensional or "N-way" fields mapped to specific business rules and policies unique to the company.

Overall, Spend Matters believes Basware's configurable matching capability is in a league by itself, given the level of easily built-in configuration so that invoices follow a customized process overseen by the right administrators and owners whose actions are only required at appropriate points in time. Consider the following Basware provided example: "a company may have limits on cell phone usage depending on the employee level within the organization. Based on these user-defined limits, a particular invoice might be sent to an employee's manager for approval or may be approved automatically." A flag might occur not just based on amount, but other specific triggers (e.g., data usage, internationally roaming during non-business hours, etc.).

Basware's overall capabilities and granularity around invoice automation, visibility and management can serve as a foundation to enable the type of working capital visibility and working capital management strategies that only the most advanced solutions make possible, especially in highly complicated and global large cap environments. These might include ways to effect early payment (for discounts) funded by third party sources or a company's own treasury department. In this area, Basware offers both fixed (contractually based) and dynamic discounting capabilities that users can build into their specific deployments.

Stay tuned for the next and final installment in this series when we analyze Basware's offering from a comparative standpoint in more detail.

Jason Busch

Discuss this:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *