I need a range estimate of costs for implementation of a front end scanning/workflow system for AP. We currently have a back end scanning process and I am investigating the cost to begin the project.

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We do not have specific cost information—that will have to come from solution providers.  There are a number of variables involved, including types of workflow systems (production models, messaging-based, web-based, or suite models). Suppliers will need an idea of the size/scope of your operations (how many invoices you process per month, types of invoices, etc.) and type of accounting or ERP system(s) in use. Key factors in the cost of implementing imaging and workflow include the hardware and software, and the cost to implement. You will have to decide what kind of systems you want/need—what level of sophistication. You must also determine whether you want to implement on premises, or via a cloud/SaaS approach; the former has higher up-front costs plus periodic maintenance, while the latter eliminates the big up-front investment but involves ongoing costs for usage.

To start, ask the suppliers what they recommend as a threshold invoice volume for their system to be worth the investment. They should be able to tell you what kind of minimum invoice volume they recommend in order to obtain a return on investment within some period (say nine or 12 months). Keep in mind that their estimates may assume implementation will go very smoothly—that is often not the case, so you may conservatively factor in additional time to the ROI estimates.

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