Author: Pete Loughlin

Nipendo has announced a new milestone marking the rapid adoption of the company’s Supplier Cloud platform by buyer and supplier organizations, exceeding one million automated procure-to-pay transactions per month. With streamlined onboarding and a range of free to low-cost supplier connectivity options, buyer organizations working with Nipendo are reaching industry-best supplier adoption rates. By automating the entire procure-to-pay cycle through the Nipendo platform, over 90% of all transactions are processed straight-through to the buyer’s ERP system without any manual intervention.

"As new Turkish e-Invoicing regulations come into force in January 2014, two leading service providers have partnered to bring world-class electronic invoicing to Turkey." So says the press release that many of you will have read over the past few days about OB10 and Digital Planet. But how big a deal is this? What is the significance of the Turkish regulation change? If you look into it, it seems only to effect a few corporations - those that trade in alcohol, tabacco and gasoline. Will it have a major impact or is this really just the Turkish Government piloting a concept or seeking to control industries within which tax evasion is common? As an outsider, it's easy to jump to these conclusions so rather than relying on my limited knowledge and intuition on this subject, I spoke to an insider, Adnan Vural, CEO of Digital Planet, who was able to demystify things for me. The new regime in Turkey I learned, is no pilot exercise.

In many organisations, purchase to pay is like a car crash. Like something dreadful – something that despite yourself, you can’t stop watching. Unbelievable. Horrific. Shocking even. Yet compelling. Alright, perhaps not quite that bad - but it can be pretty bad. I also mean it’s like a car crash in the sense that if you ask a few witnesses what they saw, they’ll all tell you something different. It's like they’re describing completely different events. It’s something I’ve written about before – the wide variety of views that people have of the same thing depending on their perspective. Finance people see P2P as an opportunity to account for things more accurately. Purchasing people see it as an opportunity to make savings through compliance and, indirectly, through better spend analysis to get better value for money. Ask a P2P operations person, they’ll tell you it’s about better process and straight through processing. They’re all valid perspectives and they are all correct but I have a question. Which perspective delivers the biggest benefit and more importantly, which is the one that will persuade a board to invest in P2P? In other words, what is the real business case for P2P? It's not what you might think.

It’s quite easy to “get” the benefits of e-procurement – electronic catalogues linked to a purchase approval workflow. It’s a no brainer and it was one of the most successful B2B technology of the 1990s as the opportunity was seen to emulate the ease of buying that amazon, Dell and eBay offered. But it was never as straightforward as the B2C equivalent. You don’t need to account for everything you buy on eBay and apply GL codes and cost centres and we don’t need a 3 way match. That’s why Amazon is easy. (How many times have you heard someone in business complain about their ERP purchasing module asking why it can’t be like Amazon?) And what about e-invoicing? That seems like a compelling proposition until you try to automate Accounts Payable in an environment where the purchasing process is out of control.

I wasn’t expecting a drama but when Sarah Chilman rushed to Nigel Taylor’s rescue following what appeared to be an unprovoked attack with a coat stand, I immediately thought of Wendi Deng’s intervention at the phone hacking hearing when her now estranged husband, Rupert Murdoch, was the target of Johnnie Marbles. “Surely Parliamentary business isn’t always like this” I thought but quickly realised that the coat stand had simply fallen on Nigel’s head. It was a moment of distraction during an otherwise fascinating session, the first sitting of the UK Parliamentary Inquiry on e-invoicing. [caption id="attachment_8723" align="aligncenter" width="576"]Parliamentary Committee on e-invoicing From left to right, Caitlin the stenographer, Luke McKeever from OB10, Tim Coleman from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Nigel Taylor from Taulia and Chair of UKNeF, Nigel Clifford from Procserv and to the far right, the coat stand.[/caption] The coat hanger mishap wasn't the only surprise. The Inquiry that I was privileged to be a part of, sat on Tuesday of this week, the day after an intense, all-day debate hosted by the UK National e-Invoicing Forum (UKNeF) during which I sat with Ian Burdon and Peter Smith, both of whom brought fresh and expert views and insights to the public sector e-invoicing discussion. These two days, the UKNeF meeting and the Parliamentary Inquiry, led me to some conclusions about the direction of electronic invoicing in the UK and they were conclusions that I would absolutely not have predicted.

Only last week, Martha Lane Fox stepped down as UK "digital champion", a role in which she tried to encourage central and local government to get people online. While her efforts were applauded, there is some doubt as to how effective those efforts were. David Cameron's Conservative party came under criticism recently when it decided to delete all pre-2010 speeches including the speech that Prime Minister himself stated that the internet would help hold politicians to account. You could be forgiven for thinking that the UK government had gone soft on the digital agenda. But you'd be wrong. While the G2C (Government to Citizen) agenda may seem somewhat confused, the politicians appear to have no doubt about the importance of their role in encouraging the B2B digital agenda and today, Mathew Hancock MP, opening the UK National e-invoicing Forum (UKNeF) Roundtable event: Creating an Interoperable Ecosystem for Government & Business, claimed in no uncertain terms that he did not want to see the UK lag behind. The Minister of State for Innovation and Skills stated the Government's commitment saying that Britain would "move from the middle of the pack " to "lead the world" in e-invoicing.

I was delighted when I heard a few weeks ago the news that was made official this week that Nigel Taylor has joined Taulia. It's great news for Nigel and great news for Taulia. Nigel moves from GXS where he led the marketing, business development and strategy of their eInvoicing solutions but I got to know him through his chairmanship of the UK National e-invoicing Forum. He’s won a great deal of respect in that chair role where he’s been able to steer the delivery of some excellent thought leadership from the group. He also represents the UK at the European Commission’s forum on eInvoicing and is an executive committee member of the European eInvoicing Service Providers’ Association.