The Finance Category

How Blockchain and Bitcoin Can Disrupt the AP Process — In a Good Way

blockchain

Spend Matters welcomes this guest contribution from Laurent Charpentier, chief innovation officer, Yooz Inc.

Blockchain. Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin. These are certainly hot topics in today’s daily business news. It’s all still a bit of a mystery to most of us. It started with bitcoin (a cryptocurrency) in 2013 and the idea of a digital currency used to buy anything from music to cupcakes couldn’t have been more exciting — or more timely — as technology continues to advance at lightning speed. And blockchain is the platform used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of bitcoin, and is considered as having the potential to reshape the global financial system, among other industries.

3 Routes to Strategically Linking Procurement and Accounts Payable

When it comes to managing accounts payable processes, leading procurement organizations know that invoicing, supplier management and payments present both serious risks and strategic opportunities for the business. But while identifying risks is a logical first step to elevating the charter of accounts payable from back office workflow to strategic capability, best-in-class organizations know they must push the envelope of what AP can offer to truly enable long-term business success. To do that, procurement must ditch last century’s manual, paper-based processes and embrace an automated approach.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary & Competitive Analysis [PRO]

For most procurement organizations, artificial intelligence (AI) technology in 2017 is similar to what online marketplaces and B2B exchanges were to purchasing teams in 2000. In other words, more of a curiosity — and a place to potentially make investments — than a proven thing. But the similarity ends there.

AI is very much real — and early adopters in procurement, finance and supply chain are already taking advantage of its benefits. And perhaps most important for skeptical procurement functions more interested in containing technology risk than fully embracing digital capabilities, there is no chance that the AI movement will implode, like the majority of B2B exchanges from the turn of the last millennium — it’s too far along for that already and the benefits are all too real.

If you’re not yet convinced, use cases from providers like Dhatim will help you make you a believer. While not a traditional source-to-pay modular or suite provider, Dhatim brings adjacent AI-led spend, invoice, broader P2P and payment classification, analytics and proactive opportunity identification capabilities that are complementary to existing systems and the data they produce.

Today’s third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering Dhatim provides an objective SWOT analysis of the provider and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to Dhatim and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies considering the vendor. Part 1 provided an in-depth look at Dhatim as a firm and its specific solutions, and Part 2 gave a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

“Cognitive” procurement has a ring to it. Enough so that any CPO who works for an organization with a broader digital transformation mandate just might pick up the old handset when a new technology provider that uses artificial intelligence (AI) in new ways decides to call. And Dhatim’s Conciliator, one of the first entrants into the cognitive sourcing market that uses AI and customized learning models to identify and predict savings opportunities, classification errors, and even individual (and theoretically supplier/vendor) performance/quality, may very well be the one on the other end of the line.

Conciliator is not the first “next generation” integrated AI-based solution that we have seen with true cognitive procurement (or sourcing) capabilities. LevaData (see our Vendor Snapshot series here, here and here) takes that prize. But Conciliator is one of the first true cognitive platforms on the market with an ability to do deep predictive analytics on certain categories in certain verticals in ways that go beyond basic AI applications to spend classification, fraud detection, predictive risk scoring and other established use cases alone.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores Conciliator’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 Conciliator. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Dhatim Conciliator: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

You might not know it, but France has a great history of building outstanding, engineering-led procurement technology firms. Ivalua and b-pack (now Determine) stand out for different reasons, but both have achieved varying degrees of success globally. Dhatim, founded in 2007, stands to follow in their footsteps — and potentially create an even larger imprint. While not a new technology provider in the procurement space, Dhatim, and its solution named Conciliator, is relatively new outside of its home country. Like others that have expanded outside the French market before it, Dhatim is looking to build a global presence, first in Europe and the UK, and then beyond.

Dhatim’s Conciliator is not a procurement suite. In fact, it would misleading to view the provider as a module-centric vendor only. Rather, it has developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-centered suite of applications that leverage the underlying learning and analytics capability to solve specific procurement, finance and even HR business challenges as well as shared services end-to-end processes operational challenges, primarily centered on automated compliance. Many of Conciliator’s large customers are keen to take advantage of digital initiatives that center on “cognitive procurement” and related areas. Conciliator not only checks the box but also delivers against use cases in which other, non-AI based solutions would have a much more difficult time — if they could do it at all.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot provides facts and expert analysis to help procurement and finance organizations make informed decisions about whether they need a solution like Conciliator alongside or as an adjunct to other analytics and data classification technologies. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for when organizations should consider Conciliator. The remainder of this multipart research brief covers product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analysis, user selection guides, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Why Do Law Firms Exclude Procurement Professionals From the Budgeting Process?

forced labor

Procurement professionals are getting left out of the budgeting process at law firms in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., according to HBR Consulting’s third annual Law Firm Procurement Survey. Only 12% of the surveyed procurement professionals report that they are heavily involved in the budgeting process, whereas 65% say they have minimal involvement. Although responses were similar across geographical regions, they tended to differ according to firm size.

3 Ways Ineffective AP Processes are Endangering Your Supply Chain

Procurement organizations tend to focus on the “procure” part of the procure-to-pay (P2P) process; so much so that the second “P” often has to take a back seat. Yet the payments side of P2P offers strategic opportunities that procurement should consider — as well as critical risks that it must take into account. When AP processes are neglected, they can endanger your supply chain, tarnish supplier relationships, and jeopardize supply quality and continuity. Following are three ways those negative impacts can occur, along with recommendations for turning these possible risks into strategic opportunities.

Dr. Edward Altman and CreditRiskMonitor CEO Jerry Flum on the Looming Corporate Debt Crisis

Debt is a growing problem, both in the U.S. specifically and worldwide. As the Congressional Budget Office announced earlier this year, U.S. debt held by the public is projected to reach 150% of GDP by 2047. Currently, the $19.9 trillion of U.S. public debt equates to about 107% of GDP, according to the Pew Research Center. In short, there’s a mammoth debt problem, which was the title of a webinar that CreditRiskMonitor recently hosted on this very topic.

How to Use Planning and Budgeting to Transform Procurement — and the Enterprise [Plus+]

As summer turns to fall, that time of the year that so many enterprises enjoy and look forward to is here: the annual planning and budgeting process for next year. Yes, I’m kidding. This process ranks only a few notches above root canal for most budget owners. Yet if you had to look at the single most powerful best practice within procurement, especially for indirect procurement, it would be procurement’s involvement in the planning and budgeting process to improve the effectiveness of this process for stakeholders and for procurement.

To restate this: The best way to increase spend influence and to translate it into economic benefits is to increase the quality of spend influence. Getting a seat at the table can be challenging, but this table is a perfect entry point, and it also allows procurement to set its own table and bring stakeholders to it. The beauty of planning and budgeting is that it requires some incremental capabilities that are critical for procurement and, more important, for the business. This includes analytics, benchmarking, policy setting and continuous improvement (most of it enabled by strong technology, of course) even beyond this annual process.

Such early engagement also creates a moment of truth where procurement and finance either come together to unlock this value or where they are left to their own devices. In this analysis, I will highlight the hard dollars surrounding this broader practice and how progressive organizations are creating this critical joint capability, as well as give some pragmatic advice regarding how to implement this benevolent and transformational multiheaded beast.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 6): Payment Best Practices and Recommendations [PRO]

early pay

Our goal in this research series on payments has been to provide procurement with a single point of reference to understand all of the intricacies and challenges associated with standard payment processes today, as well as the limitations of existing procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions when it comes to addressing payments in full. Spend Matters PRO subscribers can access the individual parts below:

The final installment in this series summarizes payment best practices today and provides recommendations to procurement organizations looking to take a leadership role in driving integrated processes that bridge supplier management, transactional buying, accounts payable, payment and working capital management processes.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 5): Dynamic Discounting and Supply Chain Finance Models [PRO]

The payment process is integral to not just transactional procurement, accounts payable and supplier management. It is also an essential component of receivables and payables trade financing models. This fifth installment in our Spend Matters PRO series exploring how procurement touches and is impacted by the payment process provides insight into the intersection of payments and trade financing, especially buyer-led (or influenced) models. See also:

In this brief, we explore the two most popular (non-factoring) trade financing models — supply chain finance (SCF) and dynamic discounting — as well as their payment intersections, especially from supplier on-boarding and enablement perspectives. We also provide an introduction to hybrid early payment and trade financing models.

Everything Procurement Should Know About Payments (Part 4): Setting Up Suppliers for Payment — The Intersection of P2P and Supplier Management (Part 4) [PRO]

Historically, most procure-to-pay solutions have put advanced supplier management capability on the back burner from a strategic development perspective. At best, they have paid lip service when attempting to tie a powerful supplier information management (SIM) capability into P2P and supplier network offerings (i.e., one-to-many or many-to-many connectivity approaches). While this is beginning to change, in general the worlds of collecting, validating, managing and keeping supplier record information up to date to enable timely payment and accounts payable vendor outreach are rarely bridged fully.

This Spend Matters PRO brief, the fourth in our series providing a comprehensive primer on everything “payments” from a procurement perspective, provides a background briefing on why collecting supplier information is critical to enable payments and a checklist for setting suppliers up for payment, starting with initial on-boarding steps. (See Part 1: Procurement’s Role and P2P Case Examples; Part 2: Best-in-Class P2P Technology Capabilities and the Reconciliation Process; and Part 3: Payment Operations — Challenges and Opportunities.) It also provides a vendor data collection template for basic and advanced fields that companies should compare against their own for an accounts payable-centric on-boarding process spanning company, ownership, insurance and remit/banking details. Finally, Part 4 concludes with examples of technology enablement capability that advanced supplier information systems can bring for supplier on-boarding and data maintenance.