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Global trade trends and their impact on procurement

As businesses settle into their “new normal,” we at Basware commissioned a report with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to dive into the latest global trade trends and topics that executives are most concerned about. Together with Pete Swabey, Editorial Director of EMEA Thought Leadership, we looked at what these trends mean for procurement and finance professionals and identified three themes procurement should prioritize to minimize disruptions to their supply chain and day-to-day business.

5 questions on finding your ‘best fit’ digital procurement technology, featuring analyst Magnus Bergfors

Spend Matters note: Because of the coronavirus outbreak, Basware’s conference in Europe was canceled and Spend Matters’ Magnus Bergfors was not able to speak there. So this interview is being shared here.

Basware sat down with Magnus Bergfors, VP of European Research and Lead Analyst at Spend Matters, to hear his take on the selection, adoption and integration of digital procurement solutions. Read more to learn how your organization can best determine the need for procurement technology, how to select the right technology vendor and how to choose between end-to-end and specialist digital procurement solutions.

Updated! CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Procure-to-pay (P2P) keeps the cash flowing during the crisis

Updated April 24: This installment of our Coronavirus Response series has been updated with a profile of a solution that can help with payment automation on a global scale — and because of the COVID-19 disruptions, a special offer has been extended to guilds, nonprofits and trade groups to get free access to the solution. Note: New passages in this post are italicized, and the new profile is toward the bottom.

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will focus on procure-to-pay solutions and how they can help manage cash flow during a crisis.

The mission of this PRO series is to examine categories of relevant solutions (and example providers) that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce, and even mitigate, coronavirus supply risk. And even if the solutions are only addressing a subset of the issues, the ability to respond intelligently in the short term can also help set organizations up for the future when sanity returns to the world.

This article addresses the fourth category of the seven we currently have outlined:

1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc. (Read this category’s PRO analysis and solution recommendations here.)
2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source. (This category was updated April 23 and is discussed in-depth here.)
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes. (Its profile for this series was updated April 22 and is available here.)
4. Procure to Pay (P2P) that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for many cash-starved suppliers.
5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP. (Its profile for this series is here.)
6. Providers with deep contract analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic. (Read in-depth detail on this category here.)
7. Contingent Workforce and Services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls. We are looking at four categories of solutions: for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing mobile-first contract workers anywhere you need them; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; and solutions for data management and analytics.

Owing to the magnitude of the crisis, Spend Matters recently made the series introduction available for free to all readers. PRO subscribers can see our follow-up pieces that profile the other categories and their solutions in that market. We will include a lot of information on each category PRO brief that readers can see without hitting a paywall, but since we also draw heavily from our existing deep-dive analysis of the providers from our SolutionMap database, some information will be available only to our PRO subscribers.

We began our coverage of procure-to-pay (P2P) solutions from three of the P2P suite players (Basware, Tradeshift and Coupa) with particular strengths in emphasizing working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the supply base (especially harder hit suppliers in need of cash) via the P2P process.

In this update, we’re also profiling an AP automation solution from Tipalti that can do e-invoicing and automate payments on a global scale. The solution facilitates cross-border payments in 120 currencies via multiple payment methods. In response to the coronavirus crisis, it is offering guilds, nonprofits and trade groups free access to its platform for a year.

These initial three vendors, while each unique in the P2P/financing space, all have deep capabilities in payment automation and financing programs — like intermediate trade financing and not just basic non-intermediated early pay discount execution. Tipalti also has robust supplier management and early payment capabilities.

If your organization doesn't have a P2P platform with payment and financing capabilities, one of these platforms could be the most fit-for-purpose, off-the-shelf solution to help you preserve, deploy or have access to cash through the COVID-19 crisis, but obviously longer-term too.

If other practitioners, providers or consultants would like to contribute to coverage in this category, please let us know or fill out this survey.

Each category-specific PRO piece in this series will have three sections:

1. Problems and Use Cases. We’ll highlight the problems in force (which will vary through different phases of the crisis) and the various scenarios where solutions can provide deeper insights, intelligence and scalable workflows.
2. Solution Rationale and Value. We’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and the specific questions that they’ll help answer.
3. Example Providers. We’ll highlight the solution providers that can support the problems and deliver some value.

Some providers are offering COVID-specific programs and “freemium” commercial offers, and we’ll note those whenever we update this piece. We’ll also start the series with providers that we already have deep knowledge on, but we’ve been seeking information from other vendors too.

OK, let's dive into the power of P2P solutions.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off — Learn more

The Future of Visible Commerce & the Role of Business Transparency

How are businesses responding to demands for transactional transparency from customers and wider society? Company leaders need a more holistic approach, which means knowing what sits underneath all their transactions. At Basware, we see such Visible Commerce as a way to simplify operations, spend smarter and do more.​

We partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) to take the pulse of business leaders and to understand how automation is empowering strategic decision making at their firms. I am pleased to share the findings of how these elite company executives are using transparency to mitigate risk, create business value and hone their competitive edge. ​

The report, “Using Transparency to Enhance Reputation and Reduce Business Risk,” explores the full value that such transparency delivers. It provides a lens over the advantages of automating finance and procurement processes. It finds that those working toward the total visibility of the flow of money, goods and services are able to make more effective strategic decisions and that this transparency is a defining characteristic of winning businesses worldwide. Those that have invested in improving visibility across finance and procurement benefit from greater employee engagement, improved reputation and revenue growth.

Basware: Vendor Analysis Update (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

Basware faces significant competition from multiple segments of the procure-to-pay market. It competes against a range of vendors, including ERP providers that offer e-procurement and supplier network capabilities (along with varying degrees, based on vendor, of e-invoicing capabilities). It also competes against e-invoicing and supplier enablement specialists, regional supplier network/e-invoicing providers, independent e-procurement providers and traditional AP automation and scan/capture providers.

As a trend, competition is increasing (not decreasing) for Basware, which represents a challenge given the lack of brand awareness within procurement and P2P. Further, the marketing effort it has expended thus far in the trade financing area (which has not yet resulted in material payables or receivables financing volume) and the fact Basware is largely unknown in North America as an e-procurement provider also represents hurdles from a competitor perspective.

This final installment of our three-part Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update series covering Basware offers a competitive analysis and comparison with other procure-to-pay, AP automation and supplier network providers. It also includes a SWOT analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this Update series provided a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses, and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider Basware’s product line.

Basware: Vendor Analysis Update (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses

contingent workforce

Basware, a Nordic procure-to-pay (P2P) provider that until recently adopted a conservative global growth strategy, is not as well known outside its customer base for its set of differentiated and robust capabilities, especially in the AP automation, e-invoicing and supplier network areas. Through its acquisition of Verian, it added sufficient e-procurement capability to compete against other best-in-class purchasing technology providers (previously, its cloud-based Alusta platform, which forms the basis of its AP automation and invoicing capability, was not competitive in the e-procurement market against specialized providers). In the trade financing area, we have applauded Basware in the past for taking a highly strategic approach in partnerships to both payables and receivables financing. And we now applaud its more competitive approach in adding partnerships to its multi-funder capability and “on demand” programs.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update (Part 2) explores Basware’s strengths and weaknesses in the P2P, supplier network and trade financing areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 1 looked at updates since our 2016 brief, offering a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Basware. Part 3 will include analysis and commentary.

Basware: Vendor Analysis Update (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

FM Global Resilience Index

Basware is one of the largest technology providers in the global procurement and accounts payable software market. Founded in 1985 in Espoo, Finland, as Baltic Accounting Systems to deliver enterprise finance software solutions, the company has grown from a small-country player to a global platform that processes over 650 billion euros annually (2018). It has been public since 2000 and is traded on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd. as BAS1V.

The company also manages one of the largest e-invoicing and B2B commerce networks, and Basware supports its global customer base through an operational footprint that spans more than 175 countries on six continents and includes more than 100 partners and resellers. Yet while Basware has greatly improved its e-procurement capabilities, its great strength against peers remains its invoice-to-pay and business network capabilities, as we show in our SolutionMap vendor rankings. Basware also stands out in the procure-to-pay space, with its increased use of machine learning technology.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Update looks at Basware’s developments since our 2016 series on it. It explores Basware’s P2P and network capabilities, including strengths and weaknesses in the market, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider Basware. The remainder of this three-part series will offer details on strengths/weaknesses, a user-selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation, and selection considerations. Part 2 will explore Basware’s strengths and weaknesses in the P2P, supplier network and trade financing areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 3 will cover Basware offers through its competitive analysis and comparison with other procure-to-pay, AP automation and supplier network providers. It also includes a SWOT analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations.

How and Why Digital Transformation Will Vastly Reshape Procurement & Finance Roles

interest rates

When a business upgrades a department like procurement or finance, the goal usually involves cutting costs, improving that one department and using data to assess their past performance. But that version of business is fading quickly as automation, digitization and changing trade force companies to be forward-looking and dynamic in their use of data.

That future also promises much more visibility for companies and consumers to be empowered and make better decisions.

But in the present, executives must prepare for the digital transformation of business operations and plan for more radical change across the whole enterprise. This will require them to figure how best to invest in technology, reshape their workforce and create bold visions of the future.

Exploring Basware’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Capabilities and Roadmap: Something For AP and Procurement (Part 3)

Artificial intelligence is starting to transform the value proposition of procurement and finance technologies. But it is not just start-ups that are building new capabilities and gaining momentum. Procure-to-pay stalwarts like Basware are making significant investments in the area as well. This Spend Matters PRO brief explores where Basware’s AI investments are appearing in its invoice-to-pay and e-procurement solutions. Part 1 of this series explores Basware’s recent product enhancements, and Part 2 explores 2019 and 2020 roadmap items.

Basware’s customer reviews are in the new SolutionMap Customer Insights report

This week’s vendor spotlight in the SolutionMap Customer Insights report focuses on customer reviews of the suite provider Basware. In each Customer Insights report, we provide a one-page summary of qualitative and quantitative insights from the SolutionMap peer review process. The Customer Insights summary includes ratings on how well the vendor meets user expectations, three key differentiators for the vendor and a list of quotes about the vendor’s greatest strengths.

Basware

As part of the SolutionMap RFI process, Spend Matters continuously solicits customer references to determine a procurement technology provider’s placement on the ranking graphics. This is a Spend Matters curated summary of verified customer feedback for Basware, a SolutionMap-ranked provider.

Basware: What Makes It Great (Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Analysis)

invoice

The Spend Matters Invoice-to-Pay (I2P) SolutionMap is an amalgam of different markets. On the one hand, it includes capabilities that typically fit squarely into the e-invoicing box. But it also examines aspects of accounts payable automation and procure-to-pay systems (like supplier network connectivity), as well as the broader connectivity, collaboration and compliance components of these areas.

Within the I2P market, Basware is one of the top ranked SolutionMap providers for Q3 2018, delivering above-the-benchmark functional and customer reference scores. Basware also participates in SolutionMaps for E-Procurement and Procure-to-Pay (P2P), as well as offers broader source-to-pay capabilities through a partnership with Scanmarket. But the purpose of this analysis is to explore exactly how Basware stands out in a crowded invoice-to-pay field — an area where it shines, in fact.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.