The rush for the paperless office and associated riches available through efficiencies and cost-savings is a compelling argument for many businesses. They then rush through the initial planning only to discover that the complexity of such a deployment is far greater than they had initially anticipated. Discontent is quickly followed by despair and can even result in the new system being ditched altogether.
What goes wrong? Many businesses are simply not prepared for the culture shock associated with the changes required to their processes and cannot adjust to the more rigid structures required. Although “touchless” systems promise the greatest returns on investment, the fact that they also affect every part of an organisation means the greatest disruption, even if it is only short-lived.
And here lies the nub of the problem. The deployment of an e-Procurement system is all or nothing; it must be implemented across the entire company simultaneously, or not at all. There are no piecemeal implementation options.
Contrast this with e-Invoicing which is the process of replacing paper-based invoice documentation with its electronic equivalent. In this scenario, all of the benefits of a touchless system are still available (reduced staff burden, reduced time to payment, ongoing reduced costs), but the impact is borne by the accounts department alone.
The implementation of an e-Invoicing system for many companies provides the perfect opportunity to test out a single paperless department and solve the common deployment problems on a smaller scale. These lessons can then be carried forward, once the business benefits have been properly recognized, and a wider deployment authorised.
The implementation of any electronic platform will always require changes to business processes, but much of the complication can be reduced by taking on a smaller challenge first. Although e-Procurement may be your company’s eventual target, an e-Invoicing roll out may provide the practice you need to get the process right.