What can we learn from global disruptions?
The current state of business is causing organizations to drastically change the way they operate and therefore change the way people work, too. Businesses that are accustomed to a 9-5, in-office work routine are now working from their home offices, very likely doing severely “heads down” work, focusing on the narrow view of their business operations. But there’s a lot they’re not seeing.
Sometimes it takes a real large event to encourage us to fundamentally reconsider the way we operate. And one concept that can drastically improve the chance of success during disruption is complete visibility into your procurement and finance operations.
In fact, in a recent report by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) sponsored by Basware, more than a quarter of business executives said that transparent finance and procurement processes would lead to an 11% to 20% cost reduction.
What’s the risk of a lack of visibility?
It’s easy to simply say, “We never saw it coming.” Hindsight is always 20/20 and granted, more often than not, it’s extremely difficult to predict any mass scale disruption ahead of time. But visibility into your own operations and over your processes can provide relief and can even help mitigate risk before it starts.
What’s worse, we’ve seen what can happen when visibility fails. News frequently highlights companies that have been accused, or worse, found guilty of transacting with suppliers who are guilty of inhumane work conditions, environmental horrors, or slave labor. The thing is the supplier is never the one catching flack in the headlines—the buyer is.
It’s a fear on the minds of many professionals. In the HBRAS report, 55% of respondents agreed that ethical and commercial considerations are equally important when evaluating suppliers.
Additionally, 60% agreed that a lack of visibility into their suppliers’ practices is a significant risk management issue and as many as 24% admit that, as it currently stands, they’re failing to effectively evaluate supplier business practices.
Overcome these hurdles to achieve greater visibility
Frequently, businesses face challenges when trying to achieve heightened levels of procurement and finance visibility. According to the HBRAS survey, the biggest challenges when it comes to greater visibility were determined to be the following:
- manual processes,
- lack of tools and technology,
- and no way to properly analyze data.
Let’s break that down because all three of these obstacles play into one another and perpetuate the cycle of limited visibility. When the majority of your processes are manual, you don’t have a simplified way to centrally store and evaluate all your financial information. Manual processes don’t lend themselves to advanced tools and technologies and therefore create a slower, more expensive process.
Replacing manual processes where possible with automated solutions opens the doors to reduced risk and errors and takes tedious processes out of the hands of the user. This frees up their time, giving them the opportunity to actually put the data to use. Modern tools utilize the data collected and, with artificial intelligence assisted decision-making, inform users what could and should be done in their P2P processes. For example, modern procurement tools use data to enable suppliers to connect to procurement platforms in flexible ways and with minimal change management needed. In this way, data provides better visibility into with whom businesses are transacting.
But greater visibility isn’t just about a cheaper way of doing business (though, of course, that’s a major plus). It even goes beyond boosted efficiency and quicker processing and everything you would associate with traditional business objectives. More and more, business leaders are using visibility to stabilize or improve brand reputation, mitigate supply chain risk, and continuously push for strategic improvements.
Author: Sami Peltonen, Vice President of Products and Business Management of North America, Basware
Peltonen is a product management guru, boasting two decades of experience
developing and delivering solutions that streamline daily tasks for procurement
and finance professionals, enabling them to achieve greater efficiencies within
their organizations. In his role as VP Products and Business Management of
North America at Basware, Sami is responsible for driving the vision for the
company’s North America product portfolio.
Sami has been with Basware since 2004 and has served in a number of product management roles. He earned a Master of Science degree in Information Technology from the University of Tampere in Finland. He is a Supply & Demand Chain Executive 2019 Pro to Know.