How Basware helps finance and procurement spend less and do more

Regina Duzanskaja and Lauri Palokangas explain how the P2P solutions provider can offer 100 percent visibility, control, and automation of manual processes


Do you know how your business spends its money? And, not just know, but: really understand your spending patterns, your compliance, and your performance? Regina Duzanskaja and Lauri Palokangas are from procure-to-pay solutions provider Basware, and it’s their job to help CPOs spend less but do more. They explain how the role of finance and procurement is becoming more strategic than functional, as businesses adopt automation in order to add value. Combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning, 100 percent data capture presents many opportunities for profitability, resilience, and efficiency.

European CEO: Regina, how is the role of finance and procurement changing today?

Regina Duzanskaja: There’s a lot of change going on in the space right now. The role of finance and procurement is changing from purely, sort of, transactional based, where these areas are supporting the overall business in a back-office type of role; to a role where these functions are delivering strategic value to the business.

Since 2008 we’ve seen a lot of companies cut down their spend, reducing their costs; now the companies are starting to invest again. But they’re not investing in people to process transactions. They’re investing in technology platforms to enable automation and access to data and analytics. And that is changing the space quite rapidly.

European CEO: Thousands of customers are turning to Basware in order to adapt to that changing space; tell me more.

Regina Duzanskaja: Our customer base includes some of the largest global corporations around the world, including Daimler, Carlsberg, IKEA; just to name a few.

We are able to capture 100 percent of spend, which means 100 percent control and visibility. How we are doing that is, essentially: 100 percent invoice capture, enabling to our customers to receive 100 percent paperless from day one. Number two is to make sure that our platform, our software, is easy to use. The third area is 100 percent automation – we are looking to eliminate all manual tasks in the procurement to pay process.

So, our customers are able to see their spend in a dashboard, analyse their spending patterns, and we’re also introducing peer benchmarking. So the CFOs and procurement leaders can use these tools to guide their teams to deliver better automation performance and better stats.

European CEO: Lauri, what opportunities arise for businesses when they have clear access to all of their spending data?

Lauri Palokangas: I would look at this from three perspectives. So, profitability, resilience with the supply chain, and then efficiency.

So profitability of course refers back to what Regina told about how to understand where the cashflow is going, who we are spending with, and then optimising that.

Resilience is understanding, which are the suppliers and business partners that our business depends upon, and how can we make sure that if there is a potential disruption down the supply chain, we are prepared for that.

And the third one, efficiency, is: how do people get more done in the same time? So, bring down the amount of manual work in the organisation.

European CEO: What have been the outcomes of these innovations for your customers?

Lauri Palokangas: I remember one customer that began a journey with Basware. And when I was talking to them in the very beginning, they told me to go to the internet and look up pictures of offices in the 50s. And then come and see their offices, which allegedly looked the same!

And the one polar opposite of that would be for instance, Heineken. Which was automated 97 percent of all of its purchase order -based invoices. So its manual work has gone to a fraction of what it used to be, and is now giving more time for that higher value work: talking to suppliers, negotiating better contracts, understanding where the money is going and how to make the company more profitable.

Regina Duzanskaja: And let me add an example to that. I was actually talking to one of our US-based customers, whose problem was just massive amounts of invoices. Their accounts payable department processed over a million invoices annually. They employed 38 people.

With our solutions, they were able to cut that staff to only five people, achieving some of the leading industry benchmarks, saving a lot of money, and redeploying resources to more strategic assignments in the company.

European CEO: And with these automation elements, cognitive analytics and artificial intelligence in place, what does the procure-to-pay workflow look like?

Lauri Palokangas: I cannot remember who said it, but: good design, when done well, becomes invisible. And artificial intelligence is very much like that.

Imagine that you are buying a laptop, you are buying a phone, or some other consumable that you would be using to carry out your business. You go to a purchasing solution and you just type in keywords. Now what artificial intelligence can do is, it can learn from the community of buyers, and understand what kind of words they are using, and then adapt what the solution offers to those buyers. And the end users, all that they see is they are being served by solutions and services that they need from their preferred vendors.

And when all of this happens over and over again, those professionals will learn what users prefer, what suppliers can supply what services and goods, and can then apply predictive analytics on top of everything, so know how to make better purchase decisions in the future.

European CEO: So how big is the market opportunity for Basware?

Regina Duzanskaja: In Europe and North America it’s about €15bn, and the market penetration for our solutions is still low. So there are plenty of opportunities for companies to automate their spend, invoice processing and procurement. And we believe that we have the strongest solutions out there in the market to do that.

European CEO: Regina, Lauri, thank you very much.

Regina Duzanskaja: Thank you.

Lauri Palokangas: Pleasure.