I like steps. I heard a webinar from Guy Kawasaki where he said that he always liked to do a webinar about 10 things because you will know where you are in the webinar at all times, and if (as he put it) he sucks then you will know how much longer he will be. I think people like to know what the processes is and where they are, and steps are good for that.
Step 1 – Ah-Ha
It would have been easy for me to start with some type of project scope or internal due-diligence, but I want to go all the way back to the beginning. There is a certain moment, whether that’s at a conference or talking with a peer in your industry where you have clarity about getting rid of the paper in accounting. It’s a great time and is usually met with optimism and desiring to do more.
Step 2 – The Conversation(s)
Depending on the type person you are you will start to seek out people in the organization that can help you either kill the idea or move the idea on within the organizations.
Step 3 – Opening a Case
Like one of those TV crime show, once the conversation has started and you and a small group of colleagues have decided that AP Automation is something that could work or help you now “formalize” the discovery process. This is an important time because your natural reaction may be to start calling service providers for demos, but I HIGHLY recommend that you resist and move to the next step.
Step 4 – Build the Case
The case that I am referring to in steps three and four are about finding your numbers. It is important to know what your current cost to process an invoice as well what your current AP process is in detail. Find out who does what, when and why and how much time they spend, so at the end of this step you will know how much time and money you spend on the process
Step 5 – The Invitation
Now that you know your process and the expense it is time to do your research on service providers. Make sure that you don’t just Google AP Automation . Ask around to your peers to see who they would recommend. Also, in step two as you started the conversation, try to find people in your organization who have worked in an automated environment previously, their experience can prove to be very valuable.
Step 6 – The Sake Down
After you have found two or three service providers expose them to your process map and ask them a very simple question, “What on this map can you (the service provider) eliminate?” From that answer you will know who much time can be freed up as well as the impact on your cost. Those numbers will later be used to insure that your service provider did what they agreed to and you have met your goals.
Step 7 – Don’t Forget the Features
Noticed that I started with the impact of the service provider on your process first and then moved to features. You will be able to eliminate and single out the one provider that is best for you based on time and money. However, it’s important to know that the service provider has the features you need to run your process.
Step 8 – Agreement
After all of the kicking tires is over, it is time to make a formal agreements with the service provider. Try to get as many of your number (time and cost reduction) as well as time lines for implementation in the agreement as possible. If you want to be extra safe have the service provider put guarantees on those numbers.
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