A lot of vendors will tell you a lot of what they do is so hard and took thousands of hours of development and that no one else could do it as good or as fast or as flexible when the reality is that much of what they do is easy, mostly available in open source, and can be replicated in modern Business Process Management (BPM) configuration toolkits in a matter of weeks.
So, to help you understand what’s truly hard and, in the spend master’s words, so easy a high school student with an Access database could do it, the doctor is going to bust out his technical chops that include a PhD in computer science (with deep expertise in algorithms, data structures, databases, big data, computational geometry, and optimization), experience in research / architect / technology officer industry roles, and cross-platform experience across pretty much all of the major OSs and implementation languages of choice. So far we’ve covered basic Sourcing, Procurement, Supplier Management, and Spend Analytics. Today we’re moving onto Payment, which, in e-Procurement, is usually part of Invoice-to-Pay.
Payment sounds pretty easy, as it’s just a matter of cutting a cheque, using a P-card, doing an ACH, or sending a wire, but is it? Mostly, but not entirely.
Technical Challenge: Automated Invoice Regulatory Compliance
Many countries have a lot of strict requirements when it comes to invoice acceptance, processing, and submission. And, generally speaking, they’re all different. Now, I bet you’re saying that there’s no technical challenge here — read the regulations, extract the requirements, define the workflow, implement it with one of a dozen different workflow tools. And you’re be right if that was true automated invoice regulatory compliance.
You see, the thing about regulations is that they are constantly changing. And if you’re supporting 100+ countries, in which many multi-nationals operate, that not only presents a challenge in workflow maintenance and redefinition, but also a challenge in even detecting when a regulation is about to change and when a workflow might need to be updated, or has changed (suddenly) and the workflow hasn’t been updated.
As much as one might need an invoice-to-pay solution that can adapt a workflow to changing requirements, one, especially if one is doing business in dozens of countries, needs a solution that can detect when a workflow needs to change and when invoices have to be halted as a result of a potential issue even more. And, of course, recommending the appropriate workflow updates based upon a semantic analysis of the new regulations.
In other words, if all you are being sold is a payment integration engine, which has existed for a decade, then you are not being sold anything modern or sophisticated.
Next up: the hidden elements.