Basware and BravoSolution – the start of a beautiful relationship?

Two of the significant players in the procurement solutions provider world announced a tie-up today. But this is not a full-scale merger or acquisition – rather, it is a partnership, with an agreement to work together for mutual benefit.

Basware, the Finnish purchase to pay and e-invoicing specialists are linking up with BravoSolution, whose products cover sourcing, analytics, and contract management primarily. The new global partnership is “focused on delivering integrated Source-to-Pay offerings across our target enterprise markets”.

With affiliations such as this, it is hard to know quite how significant it might be.  Such agreements can lead on to business success and perhaps eventual full-scale linkages. On the other hand, they can lead to not very much at all.

The logic here is to be able to offer an end to end procurement software package, encompassing both the transactional and strategic sourcing aspects of the overall procurement task. And there has obviously been some significant thought in terms of how the respective products cam mesh together – “ensuring value created from supplier relationship management is realised across purchase to pay” as the firms put it (although they may be using a different definition of SRM to my normal use of the term).

Whilst Basware have recently introduced both analytics and sourcing modules, they are not as well-established in these areas as BravoSolution, who themselves don’t offer any transactional solutions. But the fact that Basware do have some solutions that compete with Bravo’s core products might be an issue. If Basware  get the opportunity to bid for a broad requirement, how will they decide whether to stick with their own product set or call in Bravo, I wonder?

But as well as new bid situations, there is also a real opportunity for both parties to leverage their considerable installed bases. Can Basware persuade their e-invoicing clients to take a look at Bravo products and vice versa? That might determine the success of this at least as much as in the bidding for new contracts.

There are also some pretty big cultural differences between the two firms, from my personal observation – it will be very interesting to see how this develops. BravoSolution are owned by a very large Italian industrial company, and whilst I wouldn’t say their culture is particularly “Mediterranean”, they are very international and cosmopolitan in their outlook, Nader Sabbaghian, their CEO, being the perfect embodiment of this. And they also have a strong focus on services alongside the software products.

Basware are more of a pure software firm, and are quoted on the Finnish stock market (I believe all their main Board are Finns). They still have a strong focus on their home Scandinavian markets – although they have significant customers globally now.

So, there is certainly some logic in terms of two providers with strong technology in broadly synergistic areas coming together. But will it all add up to more than the sum of the parts?  We will, I’m sure, come back to that question again soon

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