Our Interview with Amabel Grant – from Burghley to Basware (Part 2)

Yesterday, in part 1, we gave you a run-down of Amabel Grant’s career prior to becoming UK MD for Basware recently, following that firm’s acquisition of Procserve earlier this year. We interviewed Grant the other day and asked her what the priority is in terms of extending the reach of the new expanded business?

“Definitely eInvoicing, which is not surprising given Basware’s strength in that field.  The EU mandate for eInvoicing by 2018 seems to be getting attention and although adoption has been slow historically, we see more interest now in public authorities. The spending review in the UK government is also making organisations look hard for efficiency opportunities, including eInvoicing.”

If it has been slow, and it has, what does she think has held back progress on eInvoicing adoption?

“Too often firms have worked in silos - we need procurement and finance to collaborate to build the convincing business case for eInvoicing.  But we are seeing movement - the focus on prompt payment with the Small Business Act in the UK is another key driver that should help drive adoption as well.”

What about Supply Chain Finance?  Here, Grant gets a bit controversial!

“There isn’t a huge pent-up inherent demand, however late payment and the locking in of working capital in the supply chain are major issues. Therefore there is an opportunity for service providers to disrupt the market with supply chain finance. It could in fact be the key which unlocks massive take up of commerce networks in the next few years.”

So how would you summarise your key objectives in the new role?

“Number one - rolling out eInvoicing to the UK public sector – and it would be great if this was driven by a central imperative! Two, growing the overall Basware UK business.  Then we want to develop and integrate the Procserve product management concept into Basware globally. And finally, I have a goal to build the Basware UK team and identity.”

Finally, we asked about the UK eInvoicing Forum, which Grant now chairs.

"It's sponsored by BIS (the Department of Business). The UKNeF promotes the benefits of eInvoicing to the UK Public Sector and the wider UK economy. The idea is that if eInvoicing is adopted by the public sector, then the private sector will follow. So we promote standards and ensure there is expert input to the setting of standards, we support organisations with business case input, and lobby key decision makers for support.”

As we said at the time of the acquisition, there's no doubt the combination of Procserve’s existing strength in the UK public sector plus Basware's deep eInvoicing capability with the largest open business commerce network leads to some interesting opportunities. Grant's background makes her a sensible choice to deliver this and we'll follow progress with interest. But, you may be asking, if you read this interview from the beginning, what about the horses?

"My first job was as a professional three-day event competitor" explains Grant. "I was a serious competitor though my teens and into my twenties so I didn't go to university. Then, when I got to my mid-twenties, I decided I really needed a proper job! That's why I trained as a quantity surveyor - it was a profession you could get into without going to university.  I joined the Property Services Agency as a “cadet surveyor” and did a degree at Reading University whilst training.”

So there we go - the only ex-professional three-day eventer in the procurement software world? Quite possibly! But with her combination of procurement and public sector subject matter expertise, deep IT experience, and strong inter-personal skills, we suspect she will do a great job for Basware in this role.

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