You’re now ready to engage with the shortlisted vendors to find out more about the technology they offer and how it can best support your organisation. This is likely to occur through an official tender process. At this stage it’s appropriate to create a Request for Proposal by inviting the suppliers to take the time to understand your business and allow them to demonstrate that their software has the functional and technical capabilities to meet your requirements. This can be achieved through a dedicated scoping session.
Scoping sessions should be attended by finance, accounts payable, procurement and IT as these functions are most likely to be directly impacted by the implementation of a new P2P system, but they could include stakeholders from other areas of the business too. Questions these departments are likely to seek answers for are:
- Does this vendor understand how my business works and what our current pain points are?
- Can this vendor demonstrate that their software is an improvement on existing processes?
- Is the technology user friendly and will it enable the accounts payable team to action core processes more effectively?
- Does the software allow me to get to market more quickly and efficiently?
- Does the software offer transaction efficiency?
- Does this software represent good value for money?
- Will the software talk to existing systems?
During the scoping session, vendors will usually demonstrate the full functionality of their system. It’s important to be clear in your understanding of what elements of the software are included at the various different price points offered by the vendor.
During the scoping session, as well as the technical and functional capability assessments, it’s important to consider the vendor’s approach to implementation, often a key indicator of added value and an area of differentiation between vendors. Consider:
- What support levels will be provided to ensure a successful transition to a new system? For example, does the vendor have an approved implementation partner dedicated to supporting new clients to embed the system successfully?
- How hands-on is the support? Does it include practical workshops or online support to upskill employees.
- Is the support collaborative and comprehensive?
- What is the frequency of support? Are regular touchpoints in place to address any issues or concerns.
- What does that support look like in the longer term once the system has been in place several months?
- What are the timelines for implementation and does that meet our key milestones?
- Is there a cultural fit between the two organisations and their approach to the partnership?
The level of implementation support required varies from organisation to organisation and is frequently determined by factors such as the size of the organisation, the skillsets of the people within it and whether budget extends to specialist support. Be clear on how much support you are likely to need from the outset.