Relevant stakeholders – Projects with broad-based support are more likely to be approved than those that lack it. No matter where the AP function sits organisationally (i.e. part of shared services or part of the finance department), the ultimate success of an ePayables project will depend on support from relevant stakeholders. This may include procurement, finance/treasury, IT, line of business and last but certainly not least suppliers.
Current processes – The business case must provide a clear understanding of the current AP process. Figure out what the current method is to receive, process and pay an invoice. Is it fully paper-based? How long does it take to process and pay an invoice? How is validation and matching done? How many invoices and payments are processed annually?
Costs – In order to present an ROI calculation, it is important to establish the cost to run the entire AP department, which will help to determine the cost per invoice. This is a key metric to monitor as an AP organisation moves towards more automated processes.
Challenges / Opportunities – Only after the baseline processes and costs are fully understood is there enough context to highlight the current challenges. These problems, which are also opportunities for improvement, are typically driven by a lack of visibility and efficiency in the AP processes, some of them include:
- High processing costs and times
- High exception rates and general invoice processing issues
- Late payments and late payment penalties
- Poor supplier relations
- Inability to manage/control cash, understand current liabilities, and the failure to optimize working capital
Solution requirements – Involving relevant stakeholders early in the development of the case will allow them to provide input into the key functional and technical requirements and pay huge dividends on the back end after the solution has launched.. For example, IT will have an understanding of the enterprise’s current IT infrastructure and can help to define any integration requirements and/or constraints. With the full understanding of requirements, the business case can provide a clear idea of what the proposed solution is, what it will do, and how it will alleviate the current challenges and benefit the organization.
Organisational Impact – A project such as this will have an impact on business, IT, processes and people. It is important to keep in mind that this project will involve a significant amount of change management and the impact to the organisation in these areas should not be underestimated because the acceptance of these changes will determine the success of the project.
Project Risks – Every project, technology or otherwise, involves some level of risk which cannot be eliminated completely. Risks involved could be related to technology, resources, user adoption, and/or supplier enablement [Supplier enablement is one of the biggest risks to a successful ePayables project]. The key in the business case is to identify all major risks and then identify the best ways to minimize the impact of those risks.
Financial Analysis – One of the most important aspects of any business case is the financial analysis that supports it. While competing projects can have very different requirements and benefits, the financial analysis is one area that allows enterprises to compare projects in an apples-to apples type of comparison. The analysis typically includes a cost-benefit analysis and an Return on Investment (ROI) calculation.