Software Helps Reconcile Payments Between Retailers And Suppliers - InformationWeek
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12/7/2004
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Software Helps Reconcile Payments Between Retailers And Suppliers

Notiva's Web-based software is designed to help suppliers and retailers improve cost-reconciliation processes via collaborative and analytic tools.

Notiva Corp. launched on Tuesday a new Web-based system designed to help retailers and suppliers more easily settle payments and manage financial information to improve cost-reconciliation processes.

Suppliers and retailers often deal with shipments containing thousands of line items and matching each invoice with the original purchase can create financial discrepancies. Product visibility diminishes as soon as a truck leaves the warehouse, many processes aren't automated, and there are lots of paper trails, says Joshua Greenbaum, principal analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

"The sheer processing required to log through all the data is overwhelming and if documents don't match, the reconciliation process that goes on between retailers and suppliers can take an extremely long time," adds Aberdeen Group analyst Paula Rosenblum.

With these problems in mind, Notiva created the collaborative platform that lets retailers and suppliers electronically view the same documents and data and to collaborate on the final cash settlement for all transactions, says Tom Furphy, founder and CEO of Notiva.

The software synchronizes the data so retailers and suppliers are speaking the same language and provides a vehicle through which invoices can be matched in high volumes, Rosenblum says. "Notiva provides a collaborative tool so that retailers and suppliers can negotiate through the process of reconciliation in a simpler, more efficient, and less expensive fashion."

Notiva's platform includes Notiva Match and Reconcile, Notiva Collaborative Settlement, and Notiva Analytics. The match and reconcile app leverages algorithms and automatically processes invoices and receipts. The collaborative settlement app features an online reconciliation tool; using shared data, retailers and suppliers can collaborate on a final reconciliation and final cash transaction, and generate one set of financial data. The analytics app uses the data to set shared metrics and measure the effectiveness of those metrics throughout the fiscal year by mirroring physical events in the supply chain.

Although vendors such as Lawson Software Inc. and SAP offer similar invoice data capabilities with their software, it's unusual for a vendor to specialize only in collaboration and the financial supply chain the way Notiva does, says Aberdeen's Rosenblum.

Notiva hasn't created a new business process for customers, but has taken an existing process and automated it to help suppliers and retailers settle their cash transactions more effectively, which in turn makes it easier for both manufacturers and retailers to adopt the software, Greenbaum says. "I've not seen other offerings on the market that put manufacturers and retailers on the same electronic page, with the same information, and lets them go back-and-forth in the same collaborative way," he says. "For the most part, these interactions are done today in a very primitive way using computer print-outs, phone calls, and faxes. Basically, the competition for Notiva is a 1970s-style computer printout and a telephone."

With a strong focus on adoption of radio-frequency identification technology in the retail industry, companies are looking for software that will help them leverage RFID, data synchronization, and collaborative commerce, Notiva's Furphy says. The company's software can help, because it enables collaboration between supply-chain execution and quantity that helps retailers gain visibility after an RFID-tagged product has passed through the last reader and has been unloaded from the delivery truck, Furphy says.

"Notiva can help with the eventual adoption of RFID technology by being able to track these movements of goods against an existing invoice and an existing purchase order," notes Rosenblum. "Once you've got an RFID system in place, you can do a lot more complex planning in your next cycle about what it is you want to sell or plan to sell at the retail level, so Notiva's collaborative software can serve as a good infrastructure for RFID."

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