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Building a business case for AP technology

Jul 2024

3 min read

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Joining us at The AP Arms this week is Helen Morton, a Finance Solution Architect at a top UK law firm. Drawing on her experience onboarding software for finance teams, she shares her top tips for building a strong business case for new Accounts Payable technology.  

 

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Getting to know Helen  

Helen knows what it takes to build a business case, having overseen the implementation of accounting and finance systems in transformation and solution roles for companies like EG Group and the Cooperative Group.  

Accounts Payable is a key focus among these organisations -

AP technology is quite important as there are still a lot of repetitive processes that companies want to streamline to be as accurate and efficient as possible,” Helen states.

 

The importance of technology in AP 

I'm a firm believer of focusing more on value-add activities”, Helen explains. “In AP, you're always dealing with high volumes of transactions prone to manual error and there can be quite repetitive tasks”.  

“Every penny counts, so you want to make sure you’re not having to chase up that money to get it through the door and I think that's where technology can really help”. 

 

Where to start searching for solutions 

In her experience, individuals often have preferences from projects at previous organisations. But sometimes, a broad Google search of “AP software” is their starting point. 

Websites like G2 or Gartner are a better place to begin the process, Helen explains. Sorting by your industry and spending time looking through independent peer reviews can help provide a more balanced point of view.

 

Three pillars to building a strong business case:  

 

1) Nailing down requirements 

The first step should be to ensure your business has clearly defined functional requirements. This can include the technical requirements, including data and security considerations, and the more operational, non-functional requirements too.  

Setting your stall like this is crucial and often overlooked, Helen shares. 

 

2) Setting your scoring matrix 

After setting your requirements, it’s then about deciding what’s important for your organisation past those necessities. This might include the need for reliable support and training or a quick implementation process. 

Applying a scoring system will help prioritise these needs: 

“There tends to be some ‘absolute musts’, some ‘nice to haves’ etc… and I think it's quite clear to work with your stakeholders to kind of put that separation”.

Helen stresses the importance of collaborating with a broad mix of stakeholders from various levels and aspects of the business to determine essential functional elements versus nice-to-have features.  

In her experience, it’s most helpful to use a scoring system (1 to 5) to rate how well requirements are met, with 1 indicating the requirement is not met at all and 5 indicating the requirement is perfectly met.  

Getting relevant stakeholders to score different features can paint the picture of what you need. 

 

3) Choose scalable, not situational 

Last but not least, be realistic with your roadmap and goals. Ensure that your chosen provider can grow with you and continue your journey: 

“You don't want to take all your boxes sort of in your standard delivery and then two to three years find that you're looking for another partner because you can't grow with the one you've gone with”.

This approach prevents the significant effort and disruption of implementing a new solution every few years, allowing you to maximise the benefits of your chosen solution. 

“It’s a lot of work and effort to put in a solution, so you want to make sure you are seeing the benefits”. 

In true AP Arms fashion, we asked Helen to caption the below image relating to something in her day-to-day work...  🥁🥁🥁

A seal lying on the sand

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If you’d like to feature alongside some of the industry’s finest at The AP Arms, pleaseget in touch – we’d love to share a tipple with you down the pub!  

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