My next question for Basware concerned whether the vendor plans to partner with other outsourcing providers in multi-tower deals where AP is just part of what's on the plate? In response, Basware's Bob Cohen (VP, North America) suggested that "yes, Basware will work (and is working) with partners to ensure that our products and services are available for their customers. This will be in addition to Basware offering InvoiceOut via direct sales and delivered/managed by Basware." Spend Matters research suggests that many of the procurement BPO companies and solution providers have already developed their own invoice automation capabilities (e.g., CGE&Y owns their own invoice automation capability, gained through their acquisition of IBX), yet the market is no doubt quite wide in terms of partnering.
Next up, I inquired whether the customer for the BPO offering was different than for software? Bob responded that "the customer is the same, but those involved in the decision-making process tend to be more senior. Although InvoiceOut has just been publically launched, Basware has been testing the concept for the past six months and is in advanced discussions with a number of companies (existing customers). In every case, the CFO has been in the room from the start." Here at Spend Matters, our own observations suggest that finance executives are having greater influence in P2P software dealings, but in general, the charge is still led by procurement and AP. But it's no surprise the CFO has a seat at the table for any type of outsourcing discussion in this area.
Last, I asked Bob: "Why now? Why are you bringing this to market in the current environment?"
He responded by noting, "InvoiceOut is a reflection of Basware's shift toward providing higher value services in conjunction with world class solutions. This is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves with a service that few other vendors can match." The Spend Matters take on this response is that Basware does have world-class invoice automation software -- probably the strongest overall in the market. There's no doubt this move plays to their core strength. But to truly capture the broader P2P opportunity, including indirect systems outsourcing, if they opt to pursue this opportunity, they'll need to focus as much on software enhancement and expansion as delivering a new range of highly capable BPO-led solutions. For example, Basware's eProcurement capability does not stand out even in comparison to SAP and Oracle. This must be a critical area of focus if Basware is to become a world-class P2P provider.