Basware: P2P for the Global “E” Part III

In yesterday’s post, we continued our introduction to Basware, a Finnish provider of enterprise finance solutions that serves the global e-Commerce, P2P, and AP Automation marketplace with over 2,000 international customers that collectively do business with over 1 Million companies in over 100 countries. Yesterday, we focussed on the AP automation and invoice processing capabilities. Today we are going to discuss the e-Invoicing functionality and the Basware Commerce Network.

The Basware Commerce Network (BCN) is an open commerce network that connects to almost 1 Million companies in over 100 countries through over 170 partner networks which include B2BE, Cortex, Crediflow, Crossgate, Danske Bank, Edisoft, Elemica, GHX, GXS, Hubspan, Tradex, Unified Post, Ximantix and over 150 others. Customers on the Basware Commerce Network can send and receive e-Invoices and e-Documents to any company connected to the BCN through one of the partner networks free of charge1. The BCN, which has implemented tax compliance in more than 50 countries, currently delivers over 60 Million e-Invoices per year (with a combined value in excess of $420 Billion) and Basware expects to be processing over 150 Million e-Invoices a year by the end of 2015 (which will have a combined value in excess of 1 Trillion dollars).

A key feature of the BCN is that it was designed to be used by, and equally support, senders and receivers. Note that we are not using the standard terminology of buyers and suppliers because, whereas some networks were designed to be buyer centric and support the buyer who is receiving tens (or hundreds) of thousands of invoices a year, the solution was designed for companies who are receiving tens (or hundreds) of thousands of invoices a year and for companies who are sending out tens (or hundreds) of thousands of invoices a year. Since Basware started out as a enterprise finance platform, and not an e-Procurement platform, they have a unique take on P2P and design their solutions to enable both senders and receivers (and suppliers and buyers) equally. As a result, the solution is just as likely to be acquired by a large (CPG) manufacturer or apparel distributor which only receives a few invoices for raw materials but sends out ten to one hundred times as many to its customer base of all sizes that orders frequently and in small amounts.

Another key feature is that when the BCN is working flawlessly, it’s invisible. The entire point of the network is automatic delivery and automation of e-Invoice and other e-Document processing, which will either be done through a module in Basware’s application suite or your existing ERP, MRP, or AP solution. As per our last post, Basware has already integrated with over 250 ERP, MRP, AP, and other back-office systems and, if you already have a system for processing the e-Invoices, purchase orders, and other e-Documents sent over the network, it will push the documents into (and pull the appropriate documents and confirmations from) those systems. If your existing system is “plugged in” to the network, you’ll never have to use the portal2. Typically, a person in the receiving party will only log into the portal to verify that an invoice has been received when he gets a call from an individual in the sending party3 (and does not have access to the processing system — for example, the supplier might call up the account rep to ask if the invoice was received instead of someone in Accounts Payable). And typically the only senders who will sign into the portal are small suppliers who haven’t integrated the BCN into their Accounts Receivable / Back Office invoice management software and want to send an invoice over the BCN (to insure prompt receipt, processing, and payment capability).

With the BCN, it’s possible for an organization to achieve 100% e-Invoice penetration. Because the BCN supports receipt of invoices by EDI, XML, inter-operator networks, direct connect, virtual printer, Scan-and-Capture, Cloud-scan, e-mail (Lite)4 and even keyed-in by the supplier, which covers every methodology a supplier may use to send an invoice, customers of the BCN can achieve 100% paper-free invoice processing (and have in countries with strict e-Invoicing requirements, such as Brazil, Finland, Sweden and Norway). Note that they have multiple scan solutions — you can scan it and key it in locally through the BCN portal, and attach the scan; you can have it sent to your OCR provider that is plugged into the BCN; or use Basware’s Cloudscan which will take the scan, process it, and push it into your e-Invoice solution, flagging any exceptions or scanning issues that need to be manually addressed.

The supplier portal is designed to be quick and easy to use, and is divided into four main sections, current work-view, inbox, sent and purchase orders. In the current-workflow, the supplier sees all of the incoming events that need to be processed; in the inbox, the supplier sees the incoming purchasing orders, associated messages, and status updates from the buyer; in the sent tab, the supplier sees the invoices they sent through the network, associated messages and status updates they provided; and in the purchase order tab they can search purchase orders and dive into the details of the purchase order, view line items, retrieve attached files, view the processing history, and pull up associated invoices that they sent to the buyer.

Since the network is designed to integrate with the buyer’s current ERP, MRP, AP and back-office systems and Basware P2P modules, the buyer portal is equally minimal and easy to use. The buyer can log in to search and view incoming invoices, send messages or queries to the supplier about those invoices, and run reports on the invoices in the system to query the number, and ids, of open invoices, invoices by supplier, invoices unpaid, etc. Since there was no need to duplicate the functionality in the other Basware modules and/or the other back-office systems currently in place in most customer organizations, Basware designed the portal to support quick and simple confirmational queries and messaging between the buyer and supplier, and it does this quite well. In addition, all discussions are included in the audit trail and can be retrieved at any time.

And the proof of the value is in the e-Invoice pudding it supports. A Major Engineering firm in the Netherlands that was receiving over 150,000 (paper) invoices a year was able to replace over 50% of these paper invoices with e-Invoices in less than six months and automatically match more than 80% of them, which translated into a 60% reduction in manpower required for invoice processing (which had an associated cost of 6.5 FTEs). A leading energy company in Europe which received over 700,000 (paper) invoices a year was able to convert over 50% of its suppliers to e-Invoices in six months by partnering with Basware to help it with a global supplier activation (on-boarding) program. A leading mining, construction, oil & gas, and pulp and paper company in Brazil was able to achieve 100% e-Invoice penetration with the help of Basware which, with its Cloudscan solution, was able to help the company help its suppliers push 100% of its 200,000 plus annual invoice volume through the BCN. And it’s not just buyers who have invested heavily in the BCN. One of the largest CPG companies (with a market cap in excess of 30 Billion) uses the platform to send over 400,000 invoices electronically in Scandinavia and nearby countries in the EU. No matter how big your e-Invoicing need, Basware and its BCN can handle the volume.

1 Free of charge is conditional on delivery mechanism used. Portal (invoice key-in and PO flip) and sending e-invoices via email are free for the supplier and a buyer can receive e-Invoices through the portal free of charge from a sender.

2 However, you still may want to use the value added services of the portal which include, but are not limited to, tracking invoice status and collaborating with your business partners.

3 Who could log into the supplier portal to get the same information, but, due to technical issues on the supplier side, is unable to do so at that particular point in time.

4 Scan-and-capture refers to in-house scanning and OCR (optical character recognition), cloud-scan refers to outsourced scan-and-capture, and e-mail Lite is Basware’s solution for receiving invoices via e-mail.