March 26, 2013 AP Automation, “How Do I select a Vendor?”
Congratulations, you have decided to pursue an AP Automation initiative for your organization, now what? Making the decision to make efficiency gains, speed up processes, provide valuable visibility, and reduce costs is a major step toward AP Automation, but it is only the first step.
There are many companies in the market place that tout that they are AP Automation, but are they really? If you Google AP Automation, more than half of the companies are just scanning houses that are not removing paper, they are actually adding steps to the process. Now these do have some efficiency gains, but it is an intermediary step at best. The world is going paperless. End of story, it is happening. Companies want to send out invoices and bills electronically because it saves them money. How many of your household bills do you get with notices on how to go paperless? Phone companies and cable providers are all trying to get you to allow them to send you your bill electronically; don’t you think your vendors want the same? AP Automation is about automating the entire process, from creation to payment.
Now that you understand that you are actually looking for a company that can get you and your suppliers paperless, how do you find and select them? Research is an obvious way, especially with the complex algorithms used by search engines. A generic internet search can provide you with a multitude of options. Also going to trade shows, like IOFM and IFO’s Fusion are excellent ways to go and meet with the providers in person and get a feel for who is legitimate and who is not. You can meet with them and see who the differentiators are and who will fit with your organization’s needs.
Once you have narrowed down your search, my best suggestion is to ask for references up front. This is quicker than going through a huge RFP process that will garner technical specification of what companies say they can do, but can they actually deliver? If you check references up front, you can eliminate all but a few, and then you can concentrate on having them show you a demonstration of their product, and how it will specifically meet your unique needs.