With business-to-business (B2B) digital accounts payable (AP) portals on the rise, you may be wondering if your business should procure with digital solutions.
We’ll save you the trouble of checking: The answer is yes, especially for the 33% of you still making and 30% of you still receiving B2B payments by check, as the Association for Financial Professionals’ 2022 Digital Payments Survey found.
Not only do digital procurement solutions expedite the payments process and lower operating costs; they also put compliance on autopilot and make it easier for remote teams to collaborate, a necessity for the post-COVID workforce. We know the importance of these services, which is why we offer them, too.
No matter how much the benefits outweigh the costs, transitioning to a digital procurement solution is a big undertaking—we get it.
But don’t be hesitant to dive in. Here are five tips that will take you from initial decision to implementation as smoothly as possible.
Digital procurement tip #1: Shift your mindset
Implementing a digital procurement solution requires a time and cost investment, one of the biggest hurdles to adoption, says Shirra Frost, Billtrust’s Senior Director of Product Marketing.
It's hard to fork over the cash for new technology and software when your manual processes still get the job done. But consider the upfront expense and learning curve as investments, and your business will benefit from digitized procurement in the long run.
“The B2B space [should recognize] the difference between hard and soft costs when it comes to manual processes,” says Nathan Baker, Billtrust’s Director of Product Marketing for Payments. “There’s a hard cost associated with paying for [a digital procurement solution], but what they’re not seeing is the soft cost savings—how much you can reduce your workforce and the time you are spending driving these processes.”
Digital procurement tip #2: Evaluate your current process and pain points
When considering a digital procurement solution, you should first assess your current procurement processes because there’s likely “a lot of hidden waste that you can eliminate,” says Baker. This might include, for example, the costs associated with mailing paper invoices and the number of employees needed to manage an outdated procurement system.
You should also identify your business’ unique pain points—whether it’s risk assessment, lack of transparency, late payments, or inaccurate data, to name a few—and explore digital procurement solutions that can solve those challenges to meet your key performance indicator (KPI) targets and goals.
Digital procurement tip #3: Optimize your solution
The work doesn’t stop once you choose the digital procurement solution that’s best for your business. Even after integration, you’ll need to continue testing and refining the process to ensure you’re optimizing the solution.
Frost suggests asking yourself, “Now that we’ve got this implemented and businesses are starting to adopt it, what are the gaps? How can we continue to optimize and make it even better in the outputs we’re receiving?”
Digital procurement tip #4: Encourage adoption and usage
Change is hard. Don’t be surprised if you meet some resistance from your company’s board, investors, colleagues, or customers who are used to doing things a certain way and fear a new process will slow them down. Getting everyone on the same page is crucial to the adoption of this new technology, so keep mutual advantages top of mind in your discussions with them.
“It’s important to continue communication with customers to drive adoption and usage,” says Frost. “Make sure they understand all the things they can do, and that they can now pay the way they want to pay.”
Digital procurement tip #5: Don't wait around
The longer businesses wait to digitize the procurement process, the harder it will be to catch up. According to a 2021 report from McKinsey & Company, 69% of procurement leaders said they consider digital analytics solutions to be even more valuable in the next normal than they are today, increasing procurement’s effectiveness by identifying new savings opportunities, deepening supply chain transparency, enhancing resilience and facilitating more collaborative remote-working models.
As Baker concludes, “Digital payments are the future, and you need to figure out how to get on board now.”
Learn how Billtrust Services can help with the process of transitioning to digital procurement solutions.