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3 months

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Exploring a Promising Opportunity for the Automation of Accounts Payable

Founded in 1999, AdamsGabbert is a top-ranked staffing & consulting firm in Kansas City that specializes in IT staffing, business consultation, operational automation, and technology services.

In their consulting work with small businesses, AdamsGabbert has uncovered rich potential within a niche of an underserved small business market: accounts payable (AP) automation. In conversations with business leaders, AP professionals, and existing clients, optimizing & improving their clients’ AP process with technology became a clear opportunity.

AdamsGabbert previously explored how software might be able to effectively automate their clients’ AP process, but their work came short of fully understanding the opportunity at hand and the deep industry needs at play. To better understand a deeper set of options and possibilities, AdamsGabbert asked to Crema to explore how software could enable these organizations to be more effective.

The state of operations before

  • 1,000-5,000 invoices per month processed by many small businesses
  • Upwards of $100,000/year spent by organizations just to process incoming revenue
  • 1-3 people on many small teams processing thousands of invoices, often leaving employees overworked and unable to request time off
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Finding the right solution

AdamsGabbert was excited, yet cautious to move forward in the AP automation space. In order to both ground this vision and give it momentum, Crema's priorities were to:

  • Understand the highest-leverage opportunities (and areas to avoid) from business, user, and technical perspectives
  • Understand the current market & competitors in an already crowded space
  • Recommend meaningful solutions considering relevant trade-offs, realistically pressure-testing each option
  • Provide AdamsGabbert with the information necessary to make confident decisions moving forward

Ultimately, AdamsGabbert hired Crema to help evaluate the competitive, technical, and business landscapes so that they could make the most informed investment in technology possible.

"Imagine tracking down 1,000 different emails and keying them into your accounting or ERP system… there’s a better way - software!" - Stacy Rose (COO, AdamsGabbert)

When we decided to hire an external company with the expertise to help us explore a new technology solution, Crema was our first call!"

Denise Kruse (CEO, AdamsGabbert)


The engagement kicked off with a week-long Product Lab, in which the teams identified key questions of the engagement, including:

  • Which specific parts of the AP process should their platform focus on automating?
  • What level of automation is needed? Does automation always help?
  • Can this be done and still be affordable for the ideal customer?

The Product Lab ended with site visits at local organizations that matched their ideal client profile. The organizations’ AP, Accounting, and Operations teams physically walked us through the journey an invoice goes through (and all the bumps, inefficiencies, and complications that come with it). They shared their main frustrations, how they’ve tried to improve their workflow, and what parts of the process are “unchangeable,” all providing critical insights and context for how technology could support them.

Armed with this context, the teams were ready to dig deep and equip AdamsGabbert to make the best product decisions possible. In order to provide those suggestions, Crema’s work continued with:

  • Analyzing 40 top competitors indicating strengths & weaknesses of the current market to identify key differentiators
  • Analyzing potential features and their viability
  • Assessing the strategic value of prioritized features
  • Validating features needed for the market-ready solution, ranked by technical feasibility & complexity
  • Exploring business models for future product opportunities
  • Creating surveys to learn from AP professionals

Equipped with months worth of data, research, and exploration, Crema was equipped to provide AdamsGabbert with a 360° assessment of the current competitive landscape, the realities of personnel, the decision-making priorities of leaders, and the business opportunities at hand in the AP automation space.

Opportunities for innovation

Crema’s work culminated with the identification of three opportunities for innovation in the AP space. These three opportunities were ranked based on their:

  • Value proposition: what is the single most important feature of this application and how does it help automate the AP process for teams?
  • Product strategy and ideal client profile: who is the customer of this product and what permission do they need to implement it across their team?
  • Pricing structure: are these one-time fees or subscriptions? How does the size of the team affect the cost? Is there a freemium model?
  • Technical lift: can the product be maintained by one person on the back-end or is a full product team needed to support it?
  • Connection to the current AdamsGabbert process & expertise: what organizational flows would need to change for AdamsGabbert to provide this service? What roles would be needed to provide new expertise, if any?

Crema presented these findings to the AdamsGabbert Team and provided their suggestion for next steps, as well as a framework to guide their team as they decided which of the three opportunities they should pursue. AdamsGabbert was also given all assets created & research performed by the Crema team including:

  • Summarized Results, Insights, & Recommendations presented to the full team, equipping them to make informed decisions about the next steps
  • Technical documentation, audit findings, and assessment results
  • Technical Assessment of potential features, and the MVP-level functionality of each option that would deliver value

Provided with a deeper industry understanding and with clear vision of technical opportunities, AdamsGabbert is currently developing a plan for their next steps and technological future.

“This has been so so good. It’s what we should have done the first time.” -Denise Kruze, CEO

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