Purchase to Pay solution providers and asking the right questions

Purchase to Pay solution providers and asking the right questions

We work with many purchase to pay solution providers and they’re quite a mixed bunch when it comes to practicing what they preach. I won’t name and shame. One business, very well-known and respected that advocates prompt payment is the worst payer of its own suppliers I have ever come across. Another, offering a very slick P2P solution has the least impressive P2P processes themselves.

This kind of corporate hypocrisy (a bit harsh, I know) is not uncommon but I don’t think it makes a solution provider a bad company just because they don’t always take their own medicine. What is impressive however is a company – perhaps not best known as a P2P solution provider – that has the best reference site you could wish for – themselves.

Site LogoI’m quite a fan of Canon. I’ve bought quite a lot of their gear but what has really impressed me in a way I wasn’t expecting to be impressed is their P2P back office. You see, I’m not just a Canon customer, I’m an occasional supplier and what I really like about them from a supplier perspective is that they do exactly what they say they’re going to do exactly when they promised to do it. That is what customers expect of their suppliers and it is exactly what suppliers expect in return. And Canon delivers that.

So when you see that Canon – the camera people – have announced a major product launch in the P2P space, don’t mistake it for a “me too” diversification move from a company with no P2P heritage – this is a new market entrant that should be taken seriously – because they know exactly what they’re talking about.

This is what they have just announced. 

“Canon UK, world-leader in imaging solutions, and enterprise purchase-to-pay specialist, Palette, are pleased to announce a partnership to provide a robust, highly efficient, end-to-end, digital purchase-to-pay platform, which offers a fully automated solution to businesses across Europe.

The partnership will integrate PaletteArena, Palette’s complete purchase-to-pay suite, with Canon’s document and image processing technology. The offering will deliver businesses a complete purchase-to-pay solution from a single, fully mobile platform for unified governance across procurement and finance, providing control over the full process, cost reductions and a rapid return on investment.

“Working with Palette is a logical step for our organisation that enables Canon to expand the range of solutions and services we offer to our customers, providing control, security, visibility and compliance at every stage of the billing and invoicing process. We can now offer fully integrated purchase-to-pay solutions that quickly deliver real efficiency gains and ROI not only by replacing paper-based routines but changing the way financial departments operate and therefore streamlining accounting and buying processes,” said European and UK Marketing Manager for Canon Solutions, Daniel Seris.

Aware of the increasing demand for software as a service in the market place, Canon will also market and sell the PaletteOnline cloud purchase-to-pay solution to European customers seeking to drive efficiency in their financial and back-office processes but looking for the flexibility of monthly service fee payments instead of upfront payment for their system. PaletteOnline gives companies of any size the fastest possible route to easier, more flexible invoice processing.

With its advanced processing platform, Palette has been a leader in the invoice automation and purchase-to-pay market in Scandinavia for several years. As part of the ongoing expansion across Europe and into the US, Palette’s partnership with Canon will further strengthen its overall solution offering to customers from small and mid-sized companies to enterprises.

Lars Petters, CEO Palette, said: “Accurate and effective document imaging capabilities are crucial in helping companies to successfully automate their P2P processes. By partnering with Canon Europe, we can ensure optimum efficiency from the start of the process, delivering a true end-to-end solution for customers.”

Later this year Palette will launch the latest version of its PaletteArena enterprise purchase-to-payment suite. It enables users to achieve significant, measurable cost savings and efficiency gains in processing supplier invoices and purchase orders.  It includes the PaletteInvoice, PaletteMobile, PaletteMail, PaletteBuyer, PaletteContract, PaletteExpense, PaletteSpendManagement and PaletteSupplier Portal products, giving a web-based end-to-end solution that improves invoice management from receipt to payment.  It integrates easily with accounting, information and business systems to automate and streamline accounts payable activity across the organisation.”

Canon’s credentials are impressive. Whereas with some other customers I would say I have been the “victim” of their P2P process, with Canon, I’ve been the beneficiary.

And this has given me an idea that I’d like to share.

If you find yourself in a position of selecting a purchase to pay solution, don’t just ask the usually questions about functionality and integration and interoperability and all of those other questions that amount to asking:”what are  you like as a supplier?” Ask another question: “What are you like as a customer?” It will tell you a lot.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

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