AP Automation

Moving away from paper invoicies to electronic invoices isn’t just about delivering business efficiency and the automation of business processes. It’s as much about eliminating paper and saving the planet – right? And in places like Mexico where e-invoicing is soon to be compulsory, we should see a dramatic improvement in the carbon footprint of finance departments all over the country shouldn't we?. What will happen to printer sales? Will printer manufacturers go out of business? And what about print supplies? It’s ironic but, as a direct result of the introduction of mandated e-invoices, there may well be a boom in printer sales in Mexico.

Question: When is an standard not a standard? Answer: When there’s loads of them. In Europe, there’s more e-invoicing standards than there are languages spoken so, when the EU Commission in it’s draft directive on e-invoicing in public sector calls for more consideration into developing a common standard, is it suggesting we need more? I spoke to Mikkel Hippe Brun, Chief Strategy Officer at Tradeshift, to get his thoughts.

There’s a perennial discussion about supplier fees for electronic invoicing. Should there be no fees to suppliers because all of the business benefit is on the buyer’s side of the equation? Should there be at least a small fee to suppliers that reflects the benefits of eliminating postage costs? Or should the fees be akin to purchasing card fees and be proportionate to the value of the invoice? While some see it as an ethical debate, it isn’t. It’s a commercial discussion. Everyone’s in it to make money and the debate is no more than an industry squabble. The fact is, most suppliers see supplier fees as a cost of doing business – you don’t get anything for nothing – and as far as suggesting that suppliers will pass the costs back to the buyer, even a junior procurement professional knows how to mitigate that risk and insist on no increase in pricing. What’s really important is the benefits that are delivered in terms of efficiency. This is one way of looking at it but there is another way and that involves doing the math.

I recently made some comments about Basware that were somewhat critical. It was positive, constructive criticism. I wanted to point out that Basware was ideally placed to become a monster. With one of it’s largest competitors sidelined somewhat by their acquisition by SAP, Basware could fall into the trap of becoming complacent – indeed, I have , from personal experience seen hints of this on the horizon. But I overlooked something – something that to an observer from outside of their organization could go unnoticed. It is the astonishing turn-around that Basware has performed, the foresight they have shown making that change and the energy and determination they have exhibited in completing it.

This week we’re delighted to welcome a new sponsor, Nipendo, to Purchasing Insight. Nipendo is fairly new on the P2P scene but in the five or so years that they’ve been about they’ve already made quite an impact with an impressive customer list which includes HP, IBM, Motorola, Pfizer and Office Depot. I was excited to speak to Nipendo’s CEO, Eyal Rosenberg,  a couple of weeks ago – I wanted to know what makes Nipendo’s proposition stand out from the crowd. We covered a lot of ground but the thing that stood out for me was the concept of E2E-invoicing. At first, I was a little skeptical but as Eyal explain more, enhancing his explanation with case study examples, the Nipendo vision became clearer.