As the world continues to adapt, learn, and find ways to move forward, we are continually presented with new predictions on how the new world will look and function, what the “new normal” will be, and how we will thrive and survive in the post-pandemic climate with business ecosystems and a new approach to investment strategies.
Who’s coming out ahead in this volatile market?
To me, it seems that one of the most visible impacts of the current global situation is the necessity of working remotely to retain business continuity. We now live in an environment where going to an office is now taken for granted. Companies that had previously moved to cloud-based operations and implemented technology and strategies to enable automation are directly benefiting from those strategic decisions.
Companies are indeed able to continue their work during a required remote working environment (however long that end up being.) But what about other companies, maybe one you are employed by, that have not yet moved to the cloud and that have no automated processes? Many are likely considering a quick shift to prevent future risks or even to make sure that during the current remote economy, they can pick up “business as usual” as soon as possible.
Gartner’s advice – start with high-value, low-risk applications
When looking to invest in any aspect of the procure-to-pay (P2P) solution map, Gartner suggests that to “Win big in P2P, start with high-value, low-risk applications and build out” from there. Especially during times of uncertainty, high-risk, large-scale application investments are unlikely to be approved. But there is still room for solution investments. The right investments to make now are, as Gartner states: “High Value – Low Risk.” One might think that most companies have made investments in their finance and procurement processes already, but the truth is that there is that only a small percentage of companies have made that strategic decision. Gartner suggests some common starting places:
Together, with this idea to start small and prove the ROI before expanding your application stack, Gartner also suggests a multivendor, modular approach to building your procurement and sourcing technology ecosystem. This type of business philosophy has an open architecture at its core which emphasises coexistence with other best-of-breed finance and procurement solutions to ensure that innovation and depth of functionality are always met. This means that your organisation is empowered to utilise the #1 solution provider for whichever process starting place that you choose.
Coexisting with Basware’s ecosystem approach to S2P
At Basware, we are aligned with Gartner’s suggestion of the high-value, low-risk investment strategy which we believe assists companies to focus on their current business needs. In fact, we adopted a “Coexist” approach to partnering which we highlighted here as we believed that it is the best way for clients to realise value. As organisations move from “Pandemic Panic” to “Pandemic Planning” this approach has never been more true. It is critically important to review where the organisation’s risk and manual processes are conducted. Where is the organisation’s greatest need and quickest impact on ROI?
One of the many benefits of this strategy and multivendor approach is centralised spend data with total visibility. Does the organisation have the data to make smart spending decisions? To realise cost savings and supplier early payment discounts? Is the organisation still relying on manual processes and printed or scanned data? In a manual environment, you are developing insights based on guesswork. Poor invoice quality and dealing with paper result in missing data, meaning more exceptions, increased risk, and no visibility into the overall AP process.
So, if companies are actively collecting and monitoring their data to build a foundation for strategic and informed decision-making, an easy place to start is with financial data. With the automation of manual processes, not only do companies realise efficiencies and cost savings, but the analytics can assist to identify process bottlenecks, predict and prevent late payments, among other process improvements.
When companies start small with their application investments, it is our experience that the additional data helps companies identify the needs for further technology investments and the types of solutions to research. Additional investment research is being completed all while employees are already making small adaptions to the new digital way of working; bottlenecks are removed, and procedures are closely reviewed. Once the decision is made that additional automation is necessary, it is much clearer what can and should be achieved.
But do not forget the best of breed approach. Look at the real needs, keep a close eye on the interfacing topic but select the vendor that fits your business needs. It is an approach to an era where enormous projects might not be easily approved and risk is mitigated. An old saying comes to mind…how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.