Q: So FISCAL has been in business for around 13 years. What’s the journey been like?
A: Well, it’s been incredibly fast-paced and over the last eight years in particular, we’ve grown tremendously – no mean feat when you consider how tumultuous those years have been for the global economy. But what’s seen us through is the strength of the product, passionate and superb staff and our commitment to our customers. And you know what - that’s a winning combination. Watching our brand presence grow from strength to strength is something which I’m very proud of.
Q: How have you seen the industry change in that time?
A: What we’re finding is that purchase-to-pay departments are becoming inundated with technology giving AP and procurement staff a very complex environment in which to work. Thankfully as a result of AP automation, we’ve seen a reduction of about 50% of the paper in the system over the last 10 years. What AP professionals need now are stronger third-party controls to oversee the increasing complexity and straight-through processing
How has FISCAL adapted, or taken advantage of that change?
Well, I’d like to think that we’ve carved out a unique niche. We work with P2P teams all around the world to give them highly developed controls to help them manage some of the complexity we’ve just been talking about. So in essence, our solutions give people actionable insights to reduce risk and fraud within the P2P cycle. In the past, people simply didn’t have the level of visibility to help them understand where their systems and processes were falling down, but put the right solutions in place and there’s no place for error to hide!
Your strapline is “protecting organisational spend”. How do you go about doing that, and why is it important for today’s businesses?
It’s like I was just saying, visibility gives you power. If you can measure something, then you can make an attempt at controlling the information that measurement gives you. For example, supplier fraud is on the increase, so organisations need to be able to understand how their systems could be undermined. We are able to provide continuous forensic monitoring for risk and, because our solutions are designed to be used by accounts payable staff on a daily basis, we’re both saving time and protecting money. These are supremely important for a business at any time but especially so when the economy is still wobbling. It’s not just about saving money in the here and now though; we can also produce predictive analysis reports to protect organisations in the future and help strengthen their P2P strategies going forward.
Do you think you can ever say an organisation can be 100% fraud free?
The one word answer is no! You know, humans have an amazing capacity for ingenuity and for some people that means finding unique ways to line their own pockets. So you will never do away with fraud entirely but that only means organisations have to match the fraudsters’ ingenuity with their own. Most organisations rely on three-way matching and reporting out of their ERP systems, and nearly all of our customers have this, but despite what some may think, this type of control is simply not enough in the 21st century. Our solution adds an essential fourth layer of protection.
I suppose having good transparency into processes can have other advantages too?
Yes, that’s right. Increasing visibility helps drive efficiency within the P2P process overall. It can also help to generate a wide range of KPIs which allows an organisation to accurately report on how well or otherwise an AP team is performing. And if we’re able to do that for an organisation, those who manage the controls are able to elevate their careers, taking them out of back-office transaction processing and leading them towards a more strategic, value-adding role. Looking back 15 years, who would have thought we’d see the rise of Directors of Accounts Payable or Global Process Owners?
So increased automation and technology has been a huge advantage to AP. Do you think there are any disadvantages?
Not many things are without a downside, and automation’s no different. I think one of the biggest losses is intuition. While automation brings visibility, KPIs and measurability, it can’t make up for the hunch an AP professional who’s worked for a company for 20 years can bring by physically reviewing an invoice. The experienced, seasoned AP professional typically carries out 8-12 security checks on each invoice and as we automate, that will be lost.
OK, so how can FISCAL address that?
Well it’s something that we consider right at the start of the process. We ask ourselves, “What is it that gives that person their hunch?”, “What set of circumstances would lead them to that conclusion?” Within our R&D team we have spent 13 years trying to replicate that experience and make it identifiable and reportable.
So, together with your board, you’re in charge of plotting FISCAL’s future. What are the next 6 – 18 months going to look like for you?
We’re going to be continuing to grow our presence in the UK and in the US. We’ve currently got offices in Reading, Preston and Edinburgh in the UK and in Raleigh, North Carolina in the US. We’re investing a lot of time and effort in R&D, developing out our solutions and services so that we are recognised as the best in the world in what we do and deliver incredible value to our customers.