Building a P2P Business Case It’s Hard To Say No To

Andy Stevenson, Head of Finance at East of England Co-op, implemented Basware last year, and in this presentation from the recent Basware Connect event, he shares with us his learnings from building the business case for a P2P solution. He can’t guarantee people won’t say no, but, he says, if you follow these steps, you are more likely to get a positive outcome.

The business case – this is the process that you are going to follow, and it takes up the bulk of the work. First you need to identify the stakeholders, both internal and external. This will involve the AP team – who in this case were going to own the process – and all business areas that will use the system and the key suppliers. Talk to them, extract their ideas.

Make sure you fully understand the current internal process: what’s still on paper, what gets typed into the ERP system, what goes off and what comes back, how long it takes to get signatures, and code and classify and what the process is for that. Map everything out, use flow diagrammes and whatever is needed to make it clear.

Then you can think about cost. What is the current cost of each invoice: personnel costs, paper, time, processing etc. Then you can show how making it smoother can save money.

Identify the challenges – where the process is currently wrong. Then you are in a better position to understand the opportunities to achieve your needs. Luckily for Andy, no-one knew what a PO system even looked like, so he was in a great position to start from.

Then think about solutions. They didn’t want something they’d have to twist and bend too much. Think about what your needs are and what is possible. And, importantly, think about the impact on the people. Think about the project risks, because it all boils down to how well it will be accepted. And remember it’s the people who will have to drive this to make it work.

Then figure out what the benefit to the business will be. Do some financial analysis. He found it a challenge to take on more resource, so the value was to be found in dynamic discounts, Basware Pay, this can create a profit centre, financial control, visibility and better cash flow. But it’s not always about financial reward, he says, even if it might seem that way to senior management.

The Document – format is important, because everything feeds into this. Keep it simple, put highlights in one column, and deep dive in another. Itemise what the purchase will give you – tabulating this will have greater impact. This might include, who you’ve selected, why, what the costs are and so on, how you will deliver the project and who do the training.

The People – it’s important to get advocates – they will help spread the word. Try to choose people who have seen similar systems in the past – they will understand the benefits. Engage them early on, sell the benefits to the ‘resistance’ and talk about the future – especially to suppliers. Basware, or your provider, will help you sell it to the people.

Andy explained where they are today against where they were a year ago. We had no stock system, he says, no controllers, no PO system, apart from spreadsheets operated in silos. We had no visibility, so couldn’t understand the scale of our purchases. It was a nightmare for finance, because when suppliers rang with invoice payment queries they had no idea where it was. The answer was always – please send it again!

When he began the implementation, he says, his team were terrified of their involvement. He was seen as the bad guy. Now, he has skilled the AP team, and they now think it was the best thing they could have done. The users love the system, and find it easy to use. Financially, he is just breaking even, but it’s early days; he is expecting better cashflow and time and efficiency savings.

Andy took what he calls the ‘slow route’ to implementation. He could have just driven ahead, but chose to involve stakeholders closely. This reaped the benefit: everyone knew what was coming, and understood their involvement.

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