Invoicing and Finance - Premium Content

Defining AP Automation Functional Requirements (Part 3): Invoice Mobility, Compliance, Analytics [PRO]

e-invoicing

AP automation capabilities vary dramatically between different software providers, and the capabilities a finance or procurement organization will require to support the automation of AP processes also vary materially, based not only on company size but a broad range of other factors. These include organizational complexity, invoice capturing requirements (e.g., paper, PDF, electronic, etc.), systems complexity, systems integration, industry, EDI integration/support, payment/financing capabilities, treasury integration/working capital management, geography and compliance requirements — to just name a few.

To understand how different providers stack up against these (and other) categories of requirements, the quarterly Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap Insider report can provide significant insight. And to create a one-to-one map between business requirements for AP automation and vendor functionality capability, SolutionMap Accelerator can dramatically speed up the vendor shortlisting and selection process, even allowing companies to “skip the RFI” entirely.

This Spend Matters PRO series defines AP automation requirements from a functional perspective to put AP, finance and purchasing professionals in the driver’s seat when they evaluate the available supply market for AP automation to fit their needs (either on a standalone basis or as a specific component of broader invoice-to-pay, procure-to-pay or source-to-pay solutions). Click to see our SolutionMap rankings of vendors in each category.

Part 1 of this series investigated core invoicing requirements for AP automation and some of the criteria that Global 2000 and middle market organizations should consider when selecting solutions (i.e., invoicing set-up, paper scan/capture support and e-invoicing).

 In Part 2, we turned our attention to an additional set of AP automation functional requirements, including AP process, invoicing validations, workflow, collaboration and integration requirements.

Now, in Part 3, we turn our attention to a final set of AP automation topics: invoicing mobility, invoicing compliance and invoicing analytics.

10 Reasons for Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 3) [Plus +]

early pay

Closing the payment gap – not just the invoicing gap – remains a Holy Grail for procurement organizations looking for greater oversight and control in transactional purchasing and even supplier relationship management. It’s also a means to bring finance and procurement organizations closer together – and to prove that finance is really procurement’s ally in the struggle to wrestle the maximum amount of utility out of P2P programs together, rather than separately. As my colleague Pierre Mitchell has noted, “any land grab is usually about job security built upon the pillar of bureaucracy.” In other words, finance and procurement must really be in the payables thing together.

The 10 reasons for procurement to work with finance departments are:

1. The value of control and oversight of the end-to-end transaction with suppliers
2. Building greater invoice/transaction insight that can bridge the visibility gap in getting line-level detail to supplier invoices without having to request information from suppliers
3. Being able to quantify efficiency driven metrics through a Trojan Horse adoption approach to e-invoicing
4. Reducing supplier risk
5. Capturing savings/leakage through closing the transaction, invoice and payment loop
6. Not getting taken advantage of by vendors that hide the total cost of P2P implementations by masking the amount suppliers are charged
7. Flexibility on supplier engagement/fee assumption in the case of supplier network models
8. New securitization/capitalization opportunities (e.g., securitizing the discount of forward payables through converting the discount classification to revenue)
9. Effectively addressing payables also forces addressing the “payment clock” question as early as possible to capitalize on opportunities.
10. Create powerful “information exhaust” around the optimal means of engaging with suppliers on a total cost basis – beyond just reducing risk. This not only includes capturing additional discount opportunities through payment integration, but also understanding how and when suppliers (and different groups of suppliers) are taking advantage of different payables opportunities.

Beyond ‘Not OK-2-Pay’: A Coupa Pay Update from Inspire 2019 [PRO]

procurement

Accounts payable is a function often viewed as laborious and time-consuming. Even when enabled by back-office technology systems like ERPs, the general perception of AP is that it consists primarily of transactional, overly complicated activities that generate little additional value for the business.

But this negative perception ignores much of AP’s full potential, which is why multiple solution providers of late have begun to pursue “business spend management” opportunities in the B2B payments space. These new offerings aim to improve the overall efficiency and value potential of AP, particularly by helping organizations move beyond the simple act of marking invoices as “OK-2-pay.” Because as many AP professionals will tell you, an OK-2-pay marker is only the beginning of a series of headaches to sort out — and where the benefits offered by B2B payment solutions begin to reveal themselves.

In this Spend Matters PRO brief, we discuss how some of the capabilities highlighted in the Coupa Pay offering at a recent Coupa Inspire 2019 conference seek to address the common issues of OK-2-pay — or, as they put it in a humorous video during the conference, “Not OK-2-pay” — as well as what Coupa’s recent partnership announcements mean for the product.

E-Invoicing: How To Diagnose if Your Deployment and Solution is World-Class [Plus +]

e-invoicing

As our journey to world-class e-invoicing continues in this multi-part Spend Matters Plus research brief, we discuss five additional elements to diagnose the overall scope, capability and coverage of your e-invoicing deployment — and whether or not your solution provider(s) can enable you to get to world-class levels of performance. If you want to catch up on this series, we encourage you to learn about all the components of the first five elements (invoice capture, collaboration/workflow, matching, compliance/validations and mobile enablement) and a broader introduction to the topic in first installment of this series. Finally, we invite Spend Matters practitioner and consulting advisory clients to reach out to us to discuss their existing and planned deployments. E-invoicing is far more complex a solution area to analyze than e-procurement, in large part because solution capabilities and organizational requirements show so much variation compared with each other.

E-Invoicing: What it Takes to Get to World Class [Plus +]

e-invoicing

In this Spend Matters Plus series, we explore what makes run-of-the-mill electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) implementations different from those that are transformative and capable of aligning procurement and accounts payable (A/P) with broader business outcomes and metrics. In this analysis, we delve into topics that are important for procurement and A/P teams to discuss with their solution providers — and prospective providers — to enable a world-class e-invoicing deployment on their terms.

As part of this research brief, we first consider the corporate and public perspective on initiatives (aimed at the private sector), both of which involve differing goals, albeit with the need of the individual company deploying capabilities to keep in mind various sets of requirements regardless. In part, depending on jurisdiction, this dual “master” requirement — the business and government — is something that makes e-invoicing quite unique in the area of procurement technology. Next, we include a list of 10 key elements to diagnose the quality of an e-invoicing deployment and how providers stack up, as well as key e-invoicing questions to evaluate your performance and implementation, trends and value-add services that select e-invoicing providers are addressing. Finally, we provide an e-invoicing architecture framework to construct, deploy and manage a set of enabling capabilities based on your specific requirements.

Coupa Pay: Solution Review and Analysis [PRO]

Spend Matters has analyzed dozens of solutions that span procurement and payables processes. This includes procure-to-pay (P2P), invoice-to-pay (I2P) and accounts payable automation solutions. Yet while each of these technology areas extends transactional capability into payments to some extent, each solution targets this area in a different manner. Some of this has to do with the way individual vendors explain their value propositions to customers and have built products based on their unique vantage point. And in an upcoming series on Spend Matters PRO, we will analyze the ways various vendors make the case for their approach to B2B payments (one model/size does not fit all!)

Today, however, we look at one vendor which is continuing to extend its P2P and I2P software to payments: Coupa. The provider's rapidly evolving solution, Coupa Pay, is unique on multiple levels both for what components it combines and also because it follows Coupa’s “unified” approach – which we will explore in this research brief in more detail.

Coupa Pay targets the payment process in a unique manner, and the combination of payment mechanisms, such as virtual credit cards (v-cards) and early payments, can become more effective through adoption and scale, through such a unified approach that extends the capability of procurement and finance (AP) functions. For Coupa, specifically, this concept falls under the domain of its vision for full business spend management (BSM) which may sound like jargon on the surface, but has some real merit as you unravel the marketing behind it and get into the actual solution.

What’s perhaps most interesting about Coupa’s approach to payments in particular is that the provider has identified the payment process gaps where it can generate better value to the business, rather than just satisfy an operational activity such as payments to suppliers or the reimbursement of expenses to employees.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores Coupa Pay — what it is, how it works and where it stands out from competitors.

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.

8 Quantifiable Levers Where Invoice-to-Pay Solutions Deliver ROI — Beyond Accounts Payable (Part 2) [PRO]

Invoice-to-pay (I2P) solutions can provide significant leverage for a range of business functions that extend beyond accounts payable alone. In Part 1 of this series, we introduced the topic of where to look for value levers and ROI outside of AP enablement alone from I2P solutions and explored the initial four levers to pull: managing, controlling and enabling visibility into 100% of an organization’s spend; providing a means of onboarding and actively managing suppliers; driving stakeholder collaboration; and technical and business integration support that makes AP a “hub” rather than a spoke.

As we conclude our analysis, we will explore four additional areas where I2P solutions deliver extended value and measurable KPI improvement beyond AP-centric metrics alone. These areas center on compliance enablement (business and regulatory), data analytics, EBITDA improvement and working capital enablement, and driving broader business objectives (while reducing the “cost to serve”).

Please note that a SolutionMap Insider companion research brief is also being published that will detail SolutionMap vendor performance for all of these areas, ranking how individual vendors perform against these requirements based on the Q3 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap benchmark.

8 Quantifiable Levers Where Invoice-to-Pay Solutions Deliver ROI — Beyond Accounts Payable (Part 1) [PRO]

finance

Invoice-to-pay (I2P) solutions exist to serve the broader business, not just accounts payable functions. Spend Matters defines the I2P area as a combination of electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) and e- payments, which may leverage a supplier network model for connectivity and value-added capabilities.

I2P solutions not only reduce paper-based processes and increase efficiency (e.g., reduce cash disbursement costs per FTE) but also serve as a foundation for enabling finance organization improvements generally (e.g., by reducing late payments, optimized working capital and lowering non-compliance). The value-added capability of technology providers offer today can help procurement and finance to configure and deploy complex invoice workflow, matching, approvals, cash disbursements, trade financing options and better process management overall. ilities.

Yet all too often, these technologies are viewed as tactical and transactionally focused, when in fact they can deliver multiple strategic outcomes. Confining invoice-to-pay solutions to an AP-centric value proposition is a mistake that many organizations make when selecting technology. And it is one that that software providers also make when “under-selling” them into organizations. ilities.

This Spend Matters PRO research brief explores eight business levers that I2P solutions can pull to deliver return on investment (ROI), as defined by the functional requirements in Spend Matters SolutionMap. We have authored it to help organizations better quantify the extended returns they can realize from I2P solutions when building business cases and to help solution providers better sell the full business value of what they deliver. ilities.

Please note that a SolutionMap Insider companion research brief is also being published that will detail SolutionMap vendor performance for all of these areas, ranking how individual vendors perform against these requirements based on the Q3 2018 Invoice-to-Pay SolutionMap benchmark.

Best Practice Tips For Implementing Dynamic Discounting and Other Trade Financing Programs [Plus +]

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, we investigate some of the key best practice tips for dynamic discounting implementation and trade financing programs. In a follow-up post, we will also share “worst practices” that far too many procurement and AP organizations are pursuing with dynamic discounting and trade financing programs because they don’t know better.

Want to Buy a Contract Management System? Here Are a Few Questions You Need to Ask [PRO]

Buying a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) application can seem daunting. There are so many stakeholders who touch contracts. We can’t imagine any more foundational commercial business application than contract management that affects so many stakeholders. And at the same time, there are so many market choices.

Trust us, we live these every day. We have over 50 functional requirements within our CLM SolutionMap evaluation database, and there are many requirements that are simply table stakes: version control, role-based access, contract renewal alerts, contract templates, and even basic clause libraries are becoming commodity functionality.

However, there are only a handful of decision points in the decision tree to get down to the few providers that will meet your needs.

First, you have to decide whether you need just pure buy-side capabilities or whether you also need sell-side capabilities and support for employee contracts as well (i.e., whether you really need truly enterprise-wide CLM). If you need strong sell-side functionality, then you’ll immediately be able to knock out some buy-side players, even some of the main procurement suite players.

Next, you’ll need to decide on whether to go with a broader suite or a “mini-suite” provider, or whether you only need just core CLM capabilities. A “mini-suite” can take many forms. Some providers combine CLM plus some sourcing functionality, and others combine CLM with supplier management capabilities (and some have even broader risk/compliance functionality). For practitioners that want to look at some custom combinations of providers, we now support custom SolutionMaps that cross multiple areas so that you can create a true custom SolutionMap rather than just our persona-based maps for various solution types. Contact me if you’d like to discuss this.

And there’s always the issue of whether your IT department prefers the solution to run on existing application infrastructure, whether it’s your ERP system or a SharePoint platform. Hopefully these aren’t hard constraints because there’s only so far that you’ll get with a document-centric approach! You can get to a certain level of capability by adding metadata to contract documents, but until you can model the contract data itself, you’re only going to get so far.

Finally, there’s a handful of unique detailed functionality that really separates the various players. Some of these areas will become more commoditized in the next few years, but others are not so easily solved by marching through the “Feature 500” list. Although the rest of this analysis is for Spend Matters PRO level members only, we welcome our Spend Matters Plus practitioner subscribers to contact us and we’ll send you a copy of this full analysis.

10 Reasons For Procurement to Work With Payments (Part 2) [Plus +]

e-invoicing

In the first installment of this series, we explored several arguments in favor of why procurement should get closer to the actual settlement process and cash flows of the final step in procurement transactions: payment. Today, we move into reducing supplier risk, capturing savings and reducing contract/compliance leakage through closing the transaction, invoice, and payment loop, and the importance of greater visibility into supplier engagement models and supplier network fees (amongst other reasons).