The Procurement Financials Category

How Procurement Can Help Save The World From ‘Lease-Pocalypse’

contract

In less than 90 days, one of the biggest accounting changes the world has ever witnessed will take effect. Starting in January 2019, a new set of rules will require companies to begin transferring almost $3 trillion worth of leases onto their balance sheets. Going forward, leases will be center stage in financial reports. To apply the new accounting standards, businesses must really know the leasing contracts. Only the procurement team has that deep knowledge.

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Steve Keifer, LeaseAccelerator's vice president of marketing.

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Working Capital Optimization: 3 Things to Avoid

In my last blog I outlined why you needed to reconsider your approach to working capital and why current programs are limited in their capabilities. In this blog I wanted to outline the things you need to avoid, or at the very least be aware of when approaching a working capital program.

Post-Confirmation Dilution in an Uncertain Credit World

e-invoicing

How long has this benign credit cycle been going on? How about since 2008, when the Fed began dumping money into the economy to go way beyond its mandate as a last-stop liquidity gap. This has led to many distortions in the credit and capital markets, and one area where this is poorly understood is around “approved” invoices. Despite what many players in the space might believe, underwriting is necessary — even  critical. Even though the invoices that are on the platform are, by definition, approved for payment (i.e., highly de-risked), they are by no means risk-free.

CPOs Owning Accounts Payable: Does Supply Chain Finance Make it Interesting at Last? [Plus+]

Historically, most CPOs and procurement leaders have not taken a huge amount of interest in the final stage of the end-to-end purchase-to-pay process. The mysterious land of accounts payable (AP) has been out of bounds to many of us in the profession. But that was, if we’re being honest, how we liked it. In my 10 years as a CPO in three organizations, I never had any desire to expend my empire in that direction. It didn’t look like a “mysterious” place in a good way; it was full of people doing what looked like pretty dull administrative tasks for a start — not what we wanted to be as we tried to build our procurement functions into strategic, business-focused powerhouses. So in the vast majority of organizations, procurement has been happy to let AP stay under the auspices of finance.

Global E-Payment Software Helps Companies Cross Borders and Cash In, Report Finds

MBO Partners

A wealth of opportunity awaits in emerging markets around the world, and global e-payment software is helping businesses cross borders to tap into that revenue — and navigate the fiscal risks that can strain supply chains and supplier relationships, according to a report that surveyed more than 400 organizations. According to the report, 73% of U.S. companies are now making some type of cross-border payments. But writing a check and sending it to Peru or even relying on wire transfers to far-flung locales no longer cut it with businesses trying to expand globally yet stay profitable. Those methods can be slow, fraught with fraud and take up too much time for a company’s accounts payable department.

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The Imperative to Improve Working Capital: Driving Forces and Emerging Solutions

Improving working capital performance has become increasingly important to companies in recent years, yet few procurement and finance organizations have found truly sustainable, long-term solutions to support this goal. The problem is that immediate external forces are pushing businesses to make working capital improvements now, while the sound financial strategies to maintain these changes require more than a few “quick fixes” to ultimately succeed.

U.S. Companies Improve Working Capital Performance — But Is It at the Expense of Suppliers?

finance

U.S. companies’ working capital performance is at its strongest since 2008, according to The Hackett Group. However, this is in large part a result of companies shifting their working capital burden on to their suppliers by extending payment terms. The average days payable outstanding in 2017 was 56.7 days, 3.4 days more than in 2016. This data comes from The Hackett Group’s 2018 U.S. Working Capital Survey of the 1,000 largest non-financial companies with headquarters in the U.S.

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Italy and the Real-Time VAT Control Big Bang

Electronic invoicing is on the decline — and rapidly so. No, I don’t mean companies have started exchanging fewer invoices in electronic format. I mean that the domain that we have in the past 15 years called “e-invoicing” is converging with the broader VAT compliance domain. Together, the two are morphing into what might be called “VAT compliance v2.0.”

An Opportune Time for Collaboration: Procurement and Accounts Payable (Part 1) [Plus+]

Historically, procurement and accounts payable have been slightly awkward bedfellows in many companies. They’ve been loosely coupled through the front-end (e.g., vendor on-boarding, registration process) and the back-end (e.g., approvals, dispute management, discounting, payment, invoice auditing) in both online and offline worlds for various aspects of supplier engagement and management.

Yet in the past decade, procurement as a role and business focus (not always as function, mind you) has garnered greater respect as a means of driving bottom line savings — often identified, not always implemented. It has still been one part of an odd couple, unfortunately, but the lesser odd partner. But that’s the subject for another post, let alone a volume of books. More important, for our purposes, accounts payable has not garnered the same level of interest, and has truly remained an odd cost-center and stepchild under the broader finance umbrella.

In fact, as many procurement organizations have been able to make the business case for more strategic resources based on quantifiable value (e.g., cost reduction, risk analysis/reduction) in the past decade, accounts payable has faced a near constant pressure to cut costs through reduced resources based on various automation schemes — internal shared services, business process outsourcing (BPO), technology or a combination thereof.

Procurement has not been overly keen on taking ownership of accounts payable, either. This goes back a long way. One of my favorites comes from Spend Matters UK/Europe Managing Director Peter Smith. Below, we feature his story and view into accounts payable from a CPO perspective.

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 2): Spend Planning and Analysis [Plus+]

e-invoicing

In the first installment of this series, we discussed ways to align procurement with the finance function, starting with financial accounting and then moving into cost accounting. Although cost accounting has one foot in the financial accounting world in terms of tracking costs and having them flow to the general ledger (GL), the more important side of cost accounting is its part in managerial accounting and total cost management.

Managerial accounting is about analyzing financials to make good business decisions. It includes analyzing historical costs and spending, but only in the context of improving future spending and reduce total economic costs. One aspect of economic costs is opportunity costs, and procurement must work hard with finance to understand the procurement ROI that comes from strong management of external spending led by the procurement organization. This ROI is measured in triple digits but must be demonstrated with hard numbers.

More importantly, however, procurement’s ability to partner with finance to better influence future spending is the most practical way to influence financial and business results. This comes from procurement aligning well with finance within the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) processes that occur in finance. Hopefully, FP&A is more than just basic budgeting at your organization. Done well, it provides the critical linkage to not only financial planning but also strategic and operational planning that drive success for budget owners, broader stakeholders and shareholders.

Given the importance of FP&A, we’re going to focus on this collaboration area and how to apply it to spend management, which you can think of as “spend planning and analysis” before the spend actually occurs, as opposed to traditional “spent analysis” of spend that already happened. This focus upstream is fundamentally about transformation and changing procurement’s role in the planning and budgeting process. Luckily, this area creates much higher quality of spend influence, which drives proven levels of spend savings.

Unlocking Deeper Value in the Procurement and Finance Relationship (Part 1) [Plus+]

finance

Much has been written about the need for procurement and finance organizations to better align with each other, in particular how the two functions can best integrate purchasing and payables into an end-to-end purchase-to-pay (P2P) process. The opportunity for aligning these two functions, however, is much greater than simply improving transaction efficiency. Unfortunately, the various sources of misalignment that plague procurement and finance prevent many businesses from identifying these opportunities in the first place.

The sad part of this story is that the two functions share many common traits. Both seek to:

  • Elevate their value propositions as enabling business partners by providing compelling service offerings — and overcome their perception as bureaucratic corporate overlords
  • Maximize enterprise value and profitable growth through disciplined spend management
  • Spend not just less but better in terms of process efficiency and process effectiveness
  • Use new techniques and technologies to help the business make better decisions that support the above goals
Additionally, these functions should in theory strive to serve each other as internal customers while also enabling the other to deliver higher value to their own internal (and external) customers. Unfortunately, theory has rarely translated into reality, and the result is that each function is leaving money (and risk) on the table.

Procurement can certainly help finance get more value from its suppliers, but it can also help finance improve service delivery in areas such as FP&A, treasury, tax, financial accounting, risk and compliance, commodity management and even accounts payable.

On the flipside, finance can help procurement in multiple ways, namely to help procurement on value-adding activities — including helping finance. This is a classic “help me, help you” moment. If procurement can help finance help procurement (and help finance help itself), then procurement’s value potential can be truly unlocked.

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.