Engage with colleagues outside of the finance team.
This should, honestly, be a no-brainer. Yet we have often found that automation of finance or AP is explored and managed almost exclusively by the team in question, and their direct line management.
However, how can you know what time and cost impacts moving to a No PO No Pay policy will have on procurement if they are not asked? Not only should they be asked, they should be involved from stage 1. Why do you not already have this policy? What has stopped the business moving forward on purchase orders?
What is key to remember is that this works both ways, there should never be a situation where automation of the Finance or AP functions is researched and considered without their direct involvement. It simply does not matter how well qualified your procurement team are, they will not have the knowledge and insight required to make this a success.
The chances are that there will be a large number of processes within finance and AP that have direct impacts elsewhere in the business. After all, these teams are at the very heart of every transaction the organisation completes.
Another key benefit from engaging other departments at an early stage, it gives them a sense of involvement and direction in their own departments growth.
Automation tools, if carefully selected, can often have a significant impact on the profitability of a whole organisation.
Build a multi-disciplined team.
Following hot on the heels of asking your colleagues for their insights, don’t leave it there. If you want to give yourself the best chance of success in your project, and in business uptake, keep these people involved.
Create a dedicated team for the project, involve people from as many teams as is necessary.
Remember, this is about improving your business processes, and ensuring that where these impact on peoples working lives, they feel that they are being included in the decision making process.
Equally, and as already mentioned, the chances are that someone who works exclusively within AP is unable to clearly define the challenges faced by their colleagues in procurement or IT. If you want to get this right, and have a chance of getting your subsequent decisions right, involve these people every step of the way.
When working with a multi-disciplined team, you will almost certainly find that the answers to some of the key questions will be thought of differently. For example, someone with a technical mindset is likely to find a different answer to a business problem than someone with a financial mindset.
This allows for new ways of thinking and working to be explored, and will very likely offer new ways of approaching your problem(s).