Author: Pete Loughlin

AP automation has got a bad name for itself in some quarters. You will often hear of projects that meant well but either failed to meet expectations or were abandoned completely. There are many reasons why projects fail such as poor change management or lack of sufficient resource but for AP automation projects, there are three particular issues that crop up again and again in failed or disappointing projects.

Purchasing InsightThe press releases from Iron Mountain recently raised a few eyebrows amongst the e-invoicing community. The announcement that they were to set up a 500 person strong unit in Europe to offer e-invoicing services to business was met with some surprise. Well, it seems, according to a source close to what is going on, that the U.S. based firm, known for it's traditional archiving offering, is coming to play in the relatively mature e-invoicing market in Europe with its eyes wide open. We understand that Iron Mountain will be bringing a number of products to the market, underpinned by a strategic alliance with Basware, one of the leading, established e-invoicing players.

I despair sometimes. There's been a couple of threads in the purchasing and supply chain media recently that seek to justify the role of procurement. There was Peter Smith's recent spirited defence, (here), of the procurement profession in response to David Cameron's naive attack calling purchasing professionals the "enemies of enterprise". And then there was the article in Supply Management "CFO focus on savings ‘does procurement a huge disservice" which high-lighted some research by Ardent Partners revealing a misperception of the role of procurement by most CFOs:

As many as 40 per cent of larger businesses across Europe are shying away from E-invoicing according to a report published this week by Iron Mountain. This is because of the perceived complexity and lack of standards, according to YouGov who were commissioned to perform the research. The findings have been published to coincide with the launch of Iron Mountain’s new Business Process Management (BPM) services, details of which can be found here.

Purchasing InsightElectronic Invoicing has for over a decade promised to deliver a fundamental change in the way accounts payable operates. "We will be able to eliminate the non-value add activities."; "AP will move from being a cost centre to a profit centre."; "It will evolve from an administration function to a strategic commercial operation." Promises all made in good faith but promises that were not delivered. The challenges of the numerous tax and legal regulations across the world as well as the reluctance of suppliers to play ball have both been significant blockers. But there's another blocker: e-invoicing doesn't make sense.