Should You Invest in eProcurement Systems? Maybe … But Read This First!

This week, we are featuring several briefing and research papers we've published recently.We know you're busy, but if you want to stay at the forefront of procurement thinking and knowledge, we think our papers are a quick and relatively painless way of doing that. They are sponsored by solution providers, but we guarantee they are always written from an independent perspective. Why not take a few minutes and make sure you're well informed about the latest in procurement technology, strategy, and process.

Today we feature this new briefing paper, sponsored by Coupa, spend management software leaders. It's titled "Should Mid-Market Organisations Invest in eProcurement Systems? – The Key Questions Answered".

It is targeted at what we have called "mid-market" organisations. Broadly, that means with annual revenues from perhaps a couple of hundred £ million up to perhaps a £ billion or so. Having said that, we'd like to think it would be interesting for any organisation thinking of investing in purchase to pay technology for the first time, or indeed looking to replace / upgrade / add to their current transactional purchasing systems.

It takes the form of a Q&A between me and an imaginary CFO from a typical organisation in that position. It answers questions about technology, but more so looks at the business issues and benefits to be considered if you are considering investment in this area. It is available to download now, free on registration.

In today's excerpt, we look at questions around e-Invoicing, and look into the future. Do download the paper, free on registration.

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We already have an e-Invoicing solution that we use to some extent in Accounts Payable – how would an eProcurement solution fit with that?

A fully integrated Purchase to Pay solution, encompassing the whole process through procurement and eInvoicing, will always deliver results over and above solutions that only address one part of the process. These benefits – as we’ve discussed - include greater cost reduction, streamlined processes, increased visibility and an improved experience for both employees and suppliers. e-Invoicing is certainly a worthwhile initiative, but on its own, benefits tend to be limited to relatively small process savings. Many companies have successfully integrated or moved AP e-Invoicing projects to a full P2P solution to maximize those benefits.

 What about future developments, both in terms of costs and what we are likely to get?

Good solution providers will look to update their product very regularly, making improvements in usability, introducing new capabilities, improving security and other key factors. Popular platforms like the Coupa product are also adding in totally new functionality, such as the ability to run sourcing exercises (tendering, choosing suppliers and contracting).

In general, the cost of enhancements gets rolled into the annual subscription, so you are not locked into long-term committed costs. Indeed, software as a service has made it easier to switch technology providers; you should look at issues such as data ownership when you negotiate the contract, to facilitate switching if you so desire.

But perhaps I shouldn’t buy now - if I wait another year or two, won’t the technology get even better?

If you follow that logic, you would never buy any technology product – in fact, we would still be writing on slates! The key point is to remember the business case. Assuming that is positive now, then you are throwing away money every month you don’t take the plunge. And if you choose sensibly, your system provider will ensure you get the benefits of system improvements automatically as soon as they are implemented.

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