Author Archives: Xavier Olivera



Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments: Procurement’s Role and P2P Case Examples (Part 1)

E-procurement is essentially what is sounds like. The same goes for e-invoicing, too. But when you add payments to the equation, things get messy.

Whether procurement and finance organizations are looking for an integrated procure-to-pay (P2P) solution or standalone invoice-to-pay (I2P) technology, the notion of either solution incorporating end-to-end payment and reconciliation capability is misleading at best. Granted, some providers, such as SAP Ariba and Coupa, have taken steps toward enabling the payment lifecycle through partnerships. But their payment solutions focus on the outcome rather than providing a broader toolbox around payment process management and reconciliation for buyers and suppliers alike.

How can these vendors, which deal predominantly in indirect goods, influence the total payment picture?

This Spend Matters PRO research series unearths the often misunderstood components of the “second P” in P2P. We start with a high-level overview of what procurement systems do (and do not) do today to enable payment processes, as well as what procurement’s responsibilities for payments are (and are not). We also profile what SAP Ariba and Coupa are enabling on the payments front, as well as the general approaches of other vendors.

Subsequent briefs in the series will provide a detailed summary of best-in-class e-procurement and e-invoicing native payment capability and integrations to enable payments, a detailed overview of the invoice to reconciliation process, an exploration of P2P and payments best practices, and guides for how to set up suppliers for payment in a system, the integration of cash management and payments, how to think about trade financing and payments, and the role of shared services in payments.

Search for the Best Results and Buy Smarter

A supplier can have the best product or service in the world, but if it never appears somewhere the end user can become aware of it, it will never be purchased. Hence the importance of what logistics professionals call “the last mile” in physical supply chains — the final leg of the transportation journey that delivers a product or service to the consumer. The concept of the last mile applies to corporate purchasing, as well.

P2P and E-Invoicing Compliance: Spelling Out What TrustWeaver Does and Does Not Do

Technology and solution providers typically deliver electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) compliance offerings as a component rather than the central focus of an overall procure-to-pay (P2P) or accounts payable automation solution. Few vendors focus squarely on compliance as the central value proposition of their offering. But one provider does offer invoicing compliance “as a service”: TrustWeaver. Yet TrustWeaver is “consumed” by organizations as an integrated component of third-party P2P and e-invoicing solutions rather than directly. This research brief explores precisely what TrustWeaver enables from a compliance perspective in its current summer 2017 offering. Also included are insights into additional TrustWeaver compliance capabilities that the provider plans to add during 2H 2017.

This brief provides checklists to understand specific areas of e-invoicing compliance centered on three areas: local laws and regulations, invoice processing and value-added services. In this context, it describes what localized e-invoicing compliance requirements TrustWeaver supports and those it does not support. In this brief, our goal is to help procurement and finance organizations understand what precisely a vendor means when it says it is a “TrustWeaver” partner — and what other steps they (or their solution partner) may need to take to ensure broader compliance requirements are met.

The Growth of E-Invoicing Compliance (Part 3): Buyer and Supplier Functional Checklists

public procurement

Just what defines “compliant electronic invoicing” continues to be one of the least understood areas of procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions. One of the reasons for this is that many technology providers — not limited to just P2P providers but also accounts payable automation vendors — hawk compliance as if it were a bag of peanuts in the hand of a vendor at a baseball game. In reality, however, few single solutions even approach “full compliance” on a global, or even localized, basis.

The challenge for buyers of technology or managed services e-invoicing solutions is that when we address the topic of e-invoicing compliance, we’re talking about a complex barrel of goodies (the metaphorical equivalent of nuts, candy and fruit), not just a ballpark freshly roasted (or generically bagged) special. Further complicating the topic of e-invoicing compliance is that we must fully address both buyer- and supplier-led compliance depending on whether someone is on the issuing or receiving side of an invoice — the two are not the same.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief succinctly cuts to the chase (we hope!) of what a compliant solution must contain. It provides both a buyer and supplier diagnostic checklist to ascertain whether a provider is offering a compliant solution. Also see the first installment (E-Invoicing Compliance, Globally: Beyond TrustWeaver’s “Seal of Approval”) and second installment (The Growth of E-Invoicing Compliance: Exploring Vendor Capabilities and Approaches (Part 2) in this series.

Transforming the Buying Experience by Using Real-Time Data

The transactional process of buying and selling goods and services will always be the essence of the procurement function within an organization. However, the form and substance by which procurement departments fulfill this role is in the process of major transformation. Form is changing in terms of the point of view of processes, roles and tools, and substance is changing in terms of procurement’s impact on the broader organization.

How Real-Time Data Helps Employees Purchase Better

Data has always been of vital importance for how companies measure, control and make decisions. Accurate, relevant and timely data provides powerful information for users of enterprise software — or, in its absence, exposes a significant blind spot. Many organizations struggle to consistently access useful information, and continue to operate with limited, imprecise and outdated data. Current business trends, however, demand agile and resilient procurement processes supported by accurate, timely data.

The Growth of E-Invoicing Compliance: Exploring Vendor Capabilities and Approaches (Part 2)

MBO Partners

In recent years, invoice-to-pay service providers have grown significantly, and there are now hundreds of them around the world. Some are truly local on an in-country basis. Others have a regional focus. And the largest tend to serve customers globally (albeit with partner support on a localized basis). We can even find service providers who handle just inbound invoices and others who can handle both inbound and outbound invoices.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores the solution scope and reach of e-invoicing providers today, including Coupa, Invocus (Zycus), GEP, SAP Ariba, Taulia and Tradeshift. Our approach is to cut through the noise to help companies to assess providers to determine the degree to which they fully support VAT, regulatory, statutory, data privacy and related compliance areas on a localized basis — beyond just partnering with TrustWeaver, alone. Provider insight is in part based on the information collected and analyzed as part of the Spend Matters Q2 2017 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap.

PRO Subscribers can also access the first installment of this series: E-Invoicing Compliance, Globally: Beyond TrustWeaver’s “Seal of Approval”

The Challenges of Supplier Financing Adoption within P2P

finance

Our colleague David Gustin recently published a post detailing the results of a study on supply chain financing over at Trade Financing Matters, and I thought it would be worthwhile to expand the insights gained related to procure-to-pay (P2P) processes and solutions. In his article "5 Hypotheses Tested on Supplier Use of Supply Chain Finance", Gustin explores some conclusions from a study developed by Prof. David Wuttke of EBS Business School together with Prof. Eve Rosenzweig of Emory and Prof. H. Sebastian Heese of North Carolina State University where they observed patterns of conduct on the subject of supply chain financing.

E-Invoicing Compliance, Globally: Beyond TrustWeaver’s “Seal of Approval”

invoice

Just about every solution provider with an e-invoicing or procure-to-pay (P2P) solution talks about compliance in the invoice-to-pay — and sometimes order-to-cash — area. Many often use language that would suggest their “unique” approach is a source of competitive advantage when it comes to complying with local government regulations. But all too often providers are referring to just having a digital signature or signing capability (often in part or in whole outsourced or certified by a third party) for the purposes of proving authenticity and certification of origin. Beyond this, there are other forms of e-invoicing compliance, such as complying with local VAT requirements and the archiving of invoices for audit purposes (e.g., the number of years varies depending on the country).

But compliance is even more nuanced than just simply checking the box on one or more of these areas for a particular country, and just having an agreement with TrustWeaver does not mean it is fully compliant for a specific transaction scenario. Depending on how tightly one wants to define compliance, it is also necessary to meet not only inter-country requirements but also intra-country (and intra-regional) requirements. This includes scenarios in countries where a submitted e-invoice requires a previous clearance by tax administrations and where part of the regulation requires that additional attachments be added to transactional documents in the invoice-to-pay process, as is the case in some Latin American and Asian countries.

This Spend Matters PRO brief explores components of what true e-invoicing compliance is — or should be. It starts by taking a look at the basics, including what TrustWeaver certification provides vendors (and their customers) with. Yet our approach is not just to address the basics, even though they are important. Rather, we take aim at the myth of vendor e-invoicing compliance that permeates the market today and what a broader definition and approach to compliance should encompass. The second installment in this brief will explore what specific steps vendors such as SAP Ariba, Coupa, Taulia, Tradeshift and others are doing beyond the norm to provide compliant solutions for trading partners.

Taking Inventory of Proactis and Perfect Commerce: Products, Strengths and Integration

Proactis and Perfect Commerce share a number of commonalities, perhaps the three most important being that they have built out similar product footprints, have been able to grow “under the radar” in recent years and have leveraged M&A as a core growth strategy. We covered the news of the announced merger between the two firms last Friday on Spend Matters, and Proactis shareholders initially responded positively to the news.

As background, Proactis’ core source-to-pay (S2P) business has centered primarily on serving U.K. customers, with a concentration in public sector. In the U.K. market, Proactis has made a number of acquisitions in recent years to round out its suite and to acquire market share. These transactions include EGS (2014), Due North (2016) and Millstream (2016). Within the U.S., it acquired Intesource (2014), to strengthen its e-sourcing and related managed services capability, and Intelligent Capture (also 2014), a provider of electronic invoicing and scan/capture services.

Perfect has served customers in the S2P area on a global basis since its founding, in 1994, but with a greater emphasis, until recently, on North America. It has made a number of smaller acquisitions over the years, in addition to its foundational acquisition of Commerce One (2006), including those that leveraged IP enforcement of Commerce One code as a bargaining chip in various transactions. But more recently, Perfect made its largest acquisition to date purchasing supplier network and P2P provider Hubwoo, to help expand its market presence and enhance its capabilities in the catalog management, marketplace and supplier network areas.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief provides an introduction and an overview to both providers, exploring the value proposition and strengths each vendor brings to the combination, including overlap and potential synergies from a customer perspective. It also touches on the subject of integration, as well as the approach we would encourage customers to look for when determining whether the acquisition will primarily benefit them or investors.

BuyerQuest: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

Procurement organizations have an increasing number of choices when it comes to selecting an e-procurement solution. With both full suite and smaller independent providers — not to mention ERP vendors — improving and expanding their capabilities in this area, it has never been a better time to purchase a new technology or make the switch from an older platform.

Within this market, BuyerQuest delivers a number of nuanced capabilities that differentiate it from peers. This third and final installment of our Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering BuyerQuest provides a SWOT analysis of the provider, as well as a segmentation and comparison of competitors. It also includes a recommended shortlist of candidates that could serve as alternative vendors to BuyerQuest for e-procurement and procure-to-pay (P2P). Finally, we conclude with a summary analysis and recommendations for organizations considering BuyerQuest.

BuyerQuest: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

The barriers to entry for any provider wanting to create an e-procurement or procure-to-pay (P2P) solution are perhaps the highest of any technology area in the procurement sector. Not only must solutions combine a world-class experience for all frontline users from a shopping and buying experience to be competitive, they also must feature entirely different sets of capabilities to enable both procurement organizations (and suppliers) to collectively manage dozens of elements to ensure that all purchases are in compliance with company policies, contracts and supplier agreements. Ideally, these two elements combine to guide users to an optimal buying experience both for their own requirements and the company, steering them in ways they may not even be aware of.

BuyerQuest is one of only a select number of new entrants to gain traction in the e-procurement — and more recently, the P2P — market in recent years by meeting these requirements, often in differentiated ways. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores BuyerQuest’s strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the provider. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering BuyerQuest. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.