With the whole world trying to find its business traction in challenging times, we decided to ask ourselves an important question. How much truth do our previously predicted trends still hold? Sush Koka, Director, Global Product Marketing at Basware, reviews her predictions and updates us on if they’re still applicable.
I started working on a “Top Trends in Procure-to-Pay” report last month. The report would look at what’s happening in the P2P industry and how that would impact finance and procurement professionals in 2020 and beyond. Easy-peasy, I thought to myself! I have been in this industry for more than 15 years and started my career as an analyst, so this was not the first time I was writing an article or report of this nature. I felt like I could do it in my sleep.
Well, in the short time between when I started writing and when it was ready to publish (less than two weeks), the world was no longer in the same place – and that’s an understatement. We are currently living in a world, where change occurs daily, if not by the hour. No one knows what the new normal will look like, only that there will be a new normal. Which begs the question – are the trends outlined in my report still relevant and will they stay relevant when we come out the other side?
It’s hard to say from where we are standing today. All I know is when we come out on the other side, we will bounce back. Human beings as a species have been tested throughout history and we have come out stronger and more resilient after every crisis. Which might be the reason I really hated Avengers: End Game (a lot of people might hate me for saying this). I just cannot imagine the entire planet just sitting around moping for five years. No one rebuilding, Captain America in therapy, Thor with a beer belly...humanity is stronger than that, but I digress.
So, back to the trends, what is still relevant and what needs updating? Let’s look at some of the trends from the report.
“Digital strategy is a necessity, no longer just nice to have.”
When everything is changing so rapidly, organisations really need to be agile and adapt quickly to change. That’s much harder to do when relying on paper-based, manual processes. So, now more than ever, it is important for organisations to start thinking about a digital strategy and identify processes they can automate. When you have solutions like electronic invoicing and AP automation in place, it’s possible to keep your cash flowing with minimal disruptions, even during a crisis.
“Data and analytics shift from reactive to proactive.”
In uncertain times like these, companies need to rapidly create plans to manage and control spend, to minimise impact to the bottom-line. In order to achieve this, they need 100% visibility into their spend – daily. Traditionally, companies have used purchasing and AP data to "drill down" into spend history to identify trends and bottlenecks. What they need now is access to data and analytics capabilities that can predict outcomes (e.g.: committed spend, potential payment delays), using historical transactions to proactively “alert up” instead of “drill down”.
“Supplier management and collaboration become critical.”
Supplier management is no longer about negotiating the cheapest price and process with your suppliers. When it comes to suppliers, there’s too much risk associated with thinking merely in terms of dollar signs. Now is the time for organisations to step up and do the right thing for their supply chain – process their invoices and pay suppliers on time, maybe even pay some suppliers early. Companies like Aldi, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have all accelerated payments to their smallest suppliers. This protects their suppliers, which also protects the buying organisations in the long run by giving them access to critical goods and services – overall strengthening the supply chain.
“Need to enable remote working in finance and procurement teams.”
Over the last few years, finance and procurement leaders have been looking at ways to reduce the talent gap. This includes hiring digitally-savvy employees and providing them with platforms and tools that enable job efficiencies – whether in the office or on the go. Today, and for the foreseeable future, working remotely is the new normal. It is critical that employees continue performing their tasks, for minimal disruption to the flow of goods, services and money. Cloud-based solutions that enable a remote workforce will be a top business priority for organisations going forward.
“AI and ML capabilities drive smart processing.”
Intelligent automation technologies backed by AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) drive touchless processing by handling routine tasks behind the scenes, without human intervention. Routine tasks such as routing, matching and coding invoices, are automated using intelligent algorithms. This means your employees can now focus on more strategic tasks, like resolving exceptions, managing supplier relationships and ensuring that suppliers (especially small and medium enterprises) get paid on time.
So far, these trends still seem relevant, but we invite you to read the report and decide for yourself. We will revisit this topic again next quarter to see if we hit bullseye or need to make adjustments.
How to keep business flowing?
Read our recent blog on how AP Automation keeps commerce and cash flow moving in tumultuous times. You can also download our eBook to learn how AP Automation simplifies processes, provides clear visibility, and further develops in-depth analytics and cash flow optimisation.