Author: Pete Loughlin

It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand the business case for some purchase to pay initiatives. Dynamic discounting - exchanging a discount in return for early payment - can give a return on capital of over 30%. Reverse factoring and other supply chain finance methods can substantially increase DPO and AP automation can reduce costs by 50%. But despite the compelling business case, most organisations remain firmly in the 20th century when it comes to purchase to pay optimisation. If the benefits are so great, why are more businesses not grasping the opportunity?

The purchasing card is a great business tool. It empowers people to make purchases without the need for a complex and often expensive purchasing process. When a low value item costs less than the cost of the purchasing process itself, it makes sense to cut through the purchase to pay red tape. But the purchasing card is beginning to show it age.  It hasn't really kept up with technological change surrounding it. The merchant fees are excessive, in a low interest rate economy the business case makes no sense and as far as reporting goes, purchasing cards have been trumped by electronic invoicing. Is it the end of the road for the purchasing card?

Basware has announced the first e-invoicing agreement of its kind with the State Treasury of Finland. Under the agreement, companies that do not yet have e-invoicing capabilities, can send their invoices to the state in electronic format, free of charge. Using the Basware Supplier Portal, even the smallest suppliers can now easily shift to e-invoicing and start to benefit from optimized cash flow, better working capital management and lower processing costs.

The relaxation in the regulations on electronic invoicing in Europe will allow more organizations to take advantage of the lower business costs and greater control and efficiency that they allow but – as Ernst and Young point out in an insightful piece recently – a relaxation in the rules doesn’t mean than “anything goes”. Indeed, care needs to be taken to ensure that e-invoicing systems, whether managed in-house or out sourced, need to be thoroughly audited to ensure that they comply with the regulations.

There are two types of people. Those who get twitter and those who don't. It's genetic. You may or may not get why it’s important to purchasing professionals but whether you are a social networker or not there are some extremely valuable lessons to be learned from the twittersphere and one lesson in particular that some of you are not going to like.

Palette have just announced the appointment Michael Cichy as new General Manager for North America. The enterprise purchase-to-pay specialist Palette is expanding and strengthening its North American operation and has also announced two new partnerships with business automation and integration specialists, OnCourse and AllStar Software.

This is the second article in the series reflecting on how we got here. In the facebook age, when the digital natives – those who don’t remember a time before the internet – are emerging as the new generation of business leaders, thinkers and politicians, it can be easy to forget how today’s business technology evolved. And it’s easy to dismiss it. But knowing a little more than best practice and understanding why we do stuff the way we do is enlightening and helps inform us about the future evolution of business technology.