When I used to market e-invoicing, I was all too aware that prospects were at least 12 to 24 months away from deploying e-invoicing if they didn't know their ""as-is"" process. Don't omit Step One, then.
You probably don't know important metrics like your first-time match rate if you don't understand your procedure. Thus, you won't be aware of the extent to which e-invoicing may be beneficial to you (and you may have problems in your process which need other solutions, as well).
Additionally, it's likely that you are unaware of the full cost of your invoicing procedure, making it impossible for you to create a solid business case.
You will learn the following by outlining your process as it currently stands:
Why bills don't work
How electronic invoicing can fix issues with your process flow
How many invoices would be considered ""in scope"" if you implemented e-invoicing?
What your current costs are and how much they will decrease if you switch to electronic
how long it presently takes to process an invoice and how switching to electronic invoicing might speed up the process
How your ability to capture negotiated reductions might be improved by reducing the amount of days
Step One will probably take you three to six months, but by the time you finish it, your business case will be clearer and more grounded.
Importantly, for effective negotiation with the supplier you ultimately choose, you must be aware of your cost-per-transaction.
Knowing the company's vision is the second step.
When process change is viewed in the context of the company's overall goals, stakeholders can understand it.
This means it's important to take the time to understand where the business wants to go in 6, 12, or 24 months. From there, you can extrapolate how e-invoicing might hasten or support the achievement of that objective. Take some time to step back from the ""day to day"" and consider the company's future. (Ask numerous questions and pay close attention to the responses.) Next, you can:
Recognize and articulate the broader goals of e-invoicing, and present it as a critical tool for achieving those goals.
To explain e-invoicing to upper management, use their terminology.
E-invoicing should be given higher emphasis.
Planning and time outside of your regular work hours are needed for this project, but it will be worthwhile when your CFO, CPO, and CTO (Chief Treasury Officer) identify e-invoicing as their single point of failure.
Step 3: Early involvement of procurement
For a company where Finance and Procurement already work together as a team, share reporting lines and objectives, and are aligned, this is easy.
However, in businesses where this ""joined-upness"" doesn't exist, it's typical for Finance to control the project because they reap the quicker rewards, and Procurement is only really brought into the mix as a last resort. This might immediately end the project.
This is largely due to the fact that e-invoicing focuses on suppliers, and while if Finance, or more specifically Accounts Payable, is responsible for paying suppliers, Procurement is essentially the company's owner. As a result, suppliers will consult Procurement regarding the e-invoicing initiative before consulting Finance. Your suppliers will sense this attitude and delay signing up if procurement is not involved or is at all contemptuous of e-invoicing.
This is a little thing, but it may be the key to successfully using e-invoicing. It isn't. Your project will be made or tragically destroyed by it.
Keep the following in mind when collaborating with procurement:
Why do we use electronic invoicing, drivers?
AP transaction types, invoice types, and countries are included in the scope.
Just e-invoicing or a complete solution is the solution's scope.
Message: Is it required or optional?
Will communications ""fall on the right desk"" depending on the database's quality?
What level of seniority will the signatories have? CFO and CPO together? (Perfectly, absolutely.)
Are the targets for Finance and Procurement the same?
Who will respond to providers who don't comply and are resistant?
Who will be responsible for it? Perhaps working together, Finance and Procurement?
A project's success depends on taking the time to seek out a collaboration from procurement early on.
The fourth step is to name the initiative.
The nameless projects are probably the ones that take a very lengthy time to transition from project state to operational or ""go live."" There is no chance behind this.
Giving the pre- and post-contract names for your e-invoicing project allows you to:
Give it a name that will make sense to people.
arouse curiosity and interest by asking, ""What is this Globe project everyone is talking about?""
Because you're all discussing the same thing, avoid confusion.
Increase interest and elicit a stronger emotional response, especially, in my experience, if you avoid the obvious choices like Globe, Probe, or the e-Procurement Project – all respectable names, but how about something more entertaining, like names of fictional or movie characters? Or perhaps holding a contest (with a great prize) to see who can think of the most original name?
5th Step: Be aware of your shopping goals.
What do you want? Is it a best-of-breed e-invoicing solution? Is dynamic discounting used with e-invoicing? Is it e-invoicing with workflow and routing, or an e-procurement functionality for your upstream procurement process? Do you need it to be VAT compliant and language sensitive because you are rolling out across multiple countries? And do you need to use their onboarding capabilities? (This is always advisable.)
Knowing what you want, and then capturing these requirements in a document is key.
You will have:
Commercial and business requirements
Scope requirements (impacting the legal treatment and the languages supported)
IT requirements (but these are probably weighted lightly, as all e-invoicing solutions I know of are system agnostic)
Resource or/and timing requirements
Then make sure that the companies you invite to respond to the RFP all offer similar-ish services, so you are not comparing one solution type against another completely different solution type in order to make a decision.
Step Six: Determine the cost of delayed-implementation
Quantifying the cost of doing nothing - 'continuing as per', and having this as a daily, weekly, monthly and annual figure, will help drive a deadline.
It's advisable to build this figure with the main stakeholders, so they all agree on it, and understand that, allowing the project to slip by a month is actually costing the company X.
Having the daily figure will help drive the pace of the project.
Step Seven: Follow the best practices of the provider
The provider you end up selecting will have likely rolled out 20 - 100 e-invoicing programs (if it is one of the bigger providers like Tungsten, Ariba, Taulia or Tradeshift). This means you will be benefiting from their experience, which is now structured, and documented.
Some providers swear by their best-practices so much that they attach a guarantee to their invoice conversion.
Best practices will include advice like """"clean your suppler data, or let us clean it"""", """"have procurement sign off on the communication"""", """"be available and ready to respond when some suppliers say they won't comply with the request""""."""