AP Automation

My good friend and opposite number at Spend Matters, Jason Busch, had the privilege to speaking to Clalit Healthcare services a some time ago to understand how they've managed to achieve such high levels of straight through processing in their accounts payable. Clalit Healthcare Services is Israel’s leading health care organizations and one of the world’s largest. It is revolutionizing the management of its entire procurement processes and supplier collaboration using the Nipendo Supplier Cloud platform. Clalit Healthcare Services is the world’s second largest HMO operating 1,400 clinics, 14 hospitals, more than 400 pharmacies, and over 800 other medical facilities. With an annual purchasing volume of over US$ 2.5 billion, Clalit receives over 2 million invoices a year issued by thousands of suppliers. Over 1,500 employees are involved in the procurement and A/P functions.

When it comes to electronic trading, the Latin Americans, most notably Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, put the so-called developed countries to shame in terms of their ambition. While the Europeans continue to support business processes hardly changed since they were developed by the spice merchants of Venice during the Renaissance, South American governments are building business and tax collection infrastructures that many of us would never have dreamt possible.

The news that OB10 is to go public broke last night - actually a little prematurely - but now it's official and Tungsten and OB10 have announced their intentions. I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a delighted Luke McKeever, OB10's CEO, earlier today to understand the details of the deal that values OB10 at £99 million. Actually, the details are a little mundane - their IPO is of course subject to raising the cash - but assuming they do it will be used to buy out existing shareholders, to build bigger better infrastructure and technology and bolster Express Payments with funds to directly fund some new and innovative supply chain finance offerings. "That's not mundane" you might think - but it is - it's positively pedestrian compared to what Luke told me they are going to be doing in addition to all of this.

From outside of Latin America, electronic invoicing in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the others, seems complex and mysterious. What information that is available to understand it is mostly in Spanish or Portuguese. For those of us who are a little rusty on our Spanish and Portuguese, even the English written information is difficult to grasp because the concept of e-invoicing in Latin America is fundamentally different to the concepts familiar to Europeans and North Americans. But for any business that trades in South America it is crucial to understand the new invoicing landscape.

This is the first in a short series of articles by Jo Harris, Director of Programme Management at OB10. They are extracts from The Supplier Enablement Handbook, a best practice guide for e-invoicing and we’re especially pleased to feature them in Purchasing Insight. The deepest and broadest hands-on experience of implementing electronic invoicing comes from the e-invoicing vendors themselves and as more and more organizations take on board the benefits of automating finance processes, sharing some of the lessons learned is extremely welcome.

e-invoicing - the supplier engagement plan

Before you start talking to your suppliers about e-invoicing, you must have a detailed plan in place to support your enrollment campaigns. Internal stakeholder support, clear messaging and a thorough understanding of your supplier-base demographics will mark the difference between an easily dismissed email and a set of strategic communications.

It depends how you interpret e-invoicing. In its EDI guise it’s been around for over 20 years but its modern incarnation, XML data transported over the internet, grew out of the dot com boom of the late 1990s so which ever way you look at it, e-invoicing has been around for more than a decade. And we’re now moving into a new era. Its take up has grown to an astonishing level partly due to mandates in various parts of the world and partly because, frankly, it’s a no-brainer. Purchasing Insight logoWhen a technology is new and untested, there is a natural and pragmatic suspicion that prevents widespread adoption. We have, collectively, had over a decade to understand how to get it right. For established electronic invoice programs, they have had time to iterate and refine and for those just embarking on the e-invoice journey, there are well-established paths to follow. There is no need to create methodologies from scratch, no need to reinvent the wheel. Even the business case is simple because it can be based on others’ experience, not some theoretical savings exercise. The latecomers have got it easy and that’s great for everyone. So where can you access sources of best practice? How can you get at the experience of the last decade or so?