Accounts payable automation can remove process inefficiencies, mitigate duplicate invoice processing, improve controls, mitigate payments fraud, fuel more effective working capital management, and improve supplier relationships(1). The benefits to AP automation to your company may seem clear, but an effective business case must be constructed and delivered effectively to secure an investment in AP automation. Creating and delivering and effective business case is an art as much as a science. Here are 10 tips for creating and effectively communicating an effective business case for AP Automation:
1. Define the Lay of the Land
You need to prepare before you even think about putting pen to paper for any business case. Map out all parties involved in accounts payable processing from supplier on-boarding to payment execution, and the relevant dynamics relative to people, process and systems.
2. Know Your Constituency
Know who you would impact and how relative to how current accounts payable processes and systems would need to change if your recommendations relative to AP automation come to fruition.
3. Invite Participation
Get buy-in from those who would be impacted by an investment in AP automation. Pay special attention to those who are likely to offer you the most resistance, and convert them into your champions by engaging them when crafting your formal business case.
4. Nail the Executive Summary
Write an executive summary for your business case that concisely delivers the urgency in addressing specific issues, how it will be done, and what the benefits will be realized, in addition to the costs of inaction. Also, address any potential barriers to winning approval here, and disarm those who may offer your initiative opposition out of the gate.
5 A Simple Cost Benefit Analysis
Deliver a cost benefit analysis based on easily defensible assumptions, accurate numbers which include potential impacts on the bottom line. I.E., hard dollar cost savings, time savings, productivity impacts, more time spent on value-adding activities.
6. Offer Multiple Potential Solutions
Offer multiple potential solutions to address AP issues and the opportunities you are addressing in your business case to show you have done your homework. This also helps remove any perception of bias in terms of a particular solution provider.
7. Define Success & Communicate It
Create goals that define success (ROI) relative to your investment in AP automation in terms of metrics you can monitor and measure such as processing time, cost savings, discounts captured, and days payable outstanding (DPO). You need to communicate how you will report on your metrics of success to all those who are vested and/or will approve your company’s investment in AP automation
8. Present with Passion & Confidence
Hold a meeting with all those who have a vested interest in your AP automation project in addition to those who need to approve it and formally present your business case. Passion and confidence go a long way to earning the buy-in you may need up and down the corporate ladder to make realize your vision of AP automation at your company.
9. Define Roles & Responsibilities
Clearly define project roles, responsibilities, and establish accountability with each stakeholder at your formal business case presentation.
10. Define How Project Pieces Fit
Define clearly how all pieces of the project “fit” and the role that each vested party plays in successful project execution.
(1) Humphrey, Ernie (2016, June 2). Automation: The Engine to Deliver Strategic Value from Accounts Payable [Webinar]. In Proformative Webinar Series. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RR_tGkL-o3I