Over the weekend I baked a cake for my girlfriend. Just your basic double layer chocolate cake from scratch (yes, I’m that kind of guy) with chocolate icing. I found a recipe online that had a couple shots of espresso thrown into the mix and I think it gave the cake an intense edge which made the cake just about the best chocolate cake either of us had ever had (it really was pretty good).
Today I’m not going to talk (much) about that cake but my recent decadent, culinary experience does help me draw a parallel with Purchase-to-Pay or P2P. How, you might ask? How can I compare P2P (or req-to-check) with a chocolate cake? Well let’s start with some basics. You can probably guess the ingredients of a chocolate cake – flour, sugar, eggs, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, etc. Well P2P has ingredients too. You have stakeholders: Reviewers, Approvers, AP Clerks, Cost Center Owners, Payment Managers, Treasury perhaps, SSC and Finance Managers, etc. There are solution elements like workflows, approval limits, segregation of duties, escalations, organizational hierarchies, etc. And then there are all the peripheral services that act as enablers of the whole process (think e-Invoices, Scan & Capture, etc). It begins to get interesting and perhaps even complicated – which is why we have baking directions. What do you imagine the directions for making a P2P cake would look like?
Caveat: this isn’t baking entirely from scratch – we’ll use a box mix called Basware Alusta. Why a box and not from scratch? Perhaps you will just accept that a P2P solution is a more complicated endeavor than baking a cake. Our box (the Basware box) contains over 25 years of best practices built in and to recreate all of these from scratch would take a long time and be many times more expensive both initially and over time.
Who’s hungry for some P2P cake?
Step 1: Group a selection of P2P stakeholders such as those above to build an understanding of their P2P requirements. Place the stakeholders into a large mixing bowl and stir until they come up with a business case.
Step 2: Bring out the cake mix (the Basware mix makes the next few steps, which are actually quite complicated – much easier) - The basware box contains many different ingredients. First you have Professional Services to help you scope your solution and ultimately implement it. Next you have the solutions itself – the P2P platform is called Alusta and it has the features and functions to handle your AP and eProcurement requirements. Just to separate the Basware cake mix from all the other boxes on the shelf we’ve added in some enabling services like SaaS, Scan & Capture and e-Invoicing – how’s that for a bit of spice.
Step 3: Mix the elements together with our Consultants until the batter tastes just right and bake (I mean implement).
Step 4: Ice the P2P cake with a healthy amount of mobility (Basware offers native iOS and Android apps and an HTML5 client for other browser enabled devices) –speeding up invoice approvals and removing bottlenecks from the process
Step 5: Enjoy
So there you are, enjoying your P2P cake as the process runs smoother than ever, with more control, visibility and efficiency than you thought possible. Shortly after you’ve started eating – a new Finance Director comes to the company (Stay with me here) – looks at the KPIs and wonders just how you’ve managed to get invoice cycle times so short. ‘With a dash of mobility’ you say as you savor the flavor of a double layered solution that blends concrete solutions with cloud services perfectly.