Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Shannon Lowe and Mark Schaffner of Verian.
In Part 1 of this series, we identified the major sources of risk most organizations face when selecting P2P software: supplier risk, software risk, and project risk. In this concluding segment, we'll explore some proven strategies to help reduce these risks during your evaluation process.
Reducing Supplier Risk
A decision to implement P2P software starts with identifying a capable supplier. There are a lot of faces out there. Our advice is to consider only those vendors who demonstrate "industry experience" and "experience in your industry." A supplier should be well known, but that isn't enough. Have they helped companies in your particular industry? They should provide case studies in your specific line of business, with proven technology solutions, and they should let you check references.
They should demonstrate a consultative approach during the sales and implementation processes, and a vested interest in your company's long-term plans. Evaluate vendors based on current needs, and strategy for expansion. Can the vendor provide insights into what might be needed as your company rises up the maturity curve? What about ongoing support? Traditional support is expected. Look for extras like a dedicated client executive, monthly training, user group meetings, and opportunities for product feedback.
Reducing Software Risk
Incompatible products can result in expensive change orders. It should be right the first time. How can you reduce the risk of a poor product fit?
Be sure there's a broad product footprint consisting of solutions for purchasing, invoice processing, and T&E. Many companies also need inventory and asset management solutions. Can you connect with vendors via supplier networks, portals, or other traditional media?
Ease of use is just as important as the product itself. There should be a single user interface (UI) for all modules that is practical and intuitive to speed user adoption. All data should be housed in a single database to make for easier analysis and reporting to maximize your spend intelligence.
Confirm that the system can be deployed to your hosting preferences. Do you need multi-tenant cloud? Private cloud? On Premises? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Can you start with one deployment model and move to a different one over time?
Reducing Project Risk
Some implementations get off to blazing start, but suffer breakdowns later due to poor project management. How can you reduce project risk?
Be certain your supplier has a defined and proven implementation methodology. How? Make them show it and outline it for you, including your expected contacts and timelines. Check references to ensure that's how things are likely to go for your organization.
Make sure they are responsive to your unique P2P processing needs. Many vendors want to tell you how to do things, rather than being receptive. Instead, they should be responsive to your business rules and approval routing, your required integrations with accounting and e-invoicing technologies, and your storage and use tracking requirements.
Building these proven strategies into your P2P software evaluation process can help you reduce or eliminate risks that have derailed projects for other companies.