- No resources
- Not enough budget
- Lack of drive
How many of these barriers to automating AP applies to your organisation?
Accounts Payable managers are determined to change the way their team process their supplier invoices.
Even with this desire for better processes, barriers to automating AP are often put in their way by senior management.
Or other departments!
This may discourage the weak of heart.
Most forward-thinking AP managers have gone back to the drawing board to figure out how to tackle these barriers.
With new technology and modern processes, these barriers to automating AP can now be swiftly overcome.
These are 3 barriers to automating AP that I have come across when speaking to these managers.
And some ideas as to how to overcome them.
1. No resources
You may not have enough time to analyse all your processes.
Or you may not have enough available IT staff to support the project.
At least that is what you are being told…
Luckily, many AP processes are fairly similar, with subtle changes per organisation.
This allows new applications to be built upon rules from best practices and experience.
Applications that offer best in class processes allow organisation to rapidly roll out, capture and process the bulk of their invoices.
Leaving the tail to be worked on during gap analysis in the project.
The benefit of this is that ROI can start to be accumulated far earlier.
If the problem is IT resource, thanks to cloud technology, new AP Automation applications can be obtained with minimal IT resource.
It will need some, so don’t forget to let IT know you intend to add to your bag of Apps!
After all, communication is vital in projects of this nature.
Is management worried about ongoing support, updates, and other tasks usually left for IT?
A cloud hosted application should be kept up to date by the provider as part of your contract.
You also release the responsibility of making sure servers are running.
That is now the job of the cloud service provider.
The lack of server resource may also help free up some space in your office.
This step into the cloud may act as a catalyst to your companies’ culture and in turn, free up even more IT resource…
2. Not enough budget
Once again, give it up for cloud technology!
Allowing applications to be cheaper than ever before…
No need for on-site implementation drastically reduces the cost of automation applications.
Not only that but cloud service providers (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS etc) work with so many companies they can significantly reduce costs.
Significant server space is no longer a need.
Since this is a cost saved by the IT department they could cover the hosting costs out of their savings.
Remember that budget can be acquired through savings, and these savings can manifest themselves in various ways.
For example, time saved from manually processing invoices can lead to more time spent on more beneficial activities.
And more interesting jobs; supplier management and negotiating early payment discounts are just two examples.
A reduction in mistakes would also equate to a saving.
Since an application could easily spot duplicate invoices, or fraudulent ones for that matter.
Although duplicate invoices are not always deceptive; if a supplier thinks you may have lost their invoice, they may send another one to make sure they are paid!
But if you consider fraudulent or duplicate payments, these can pay for an application themselves.
There could also be a reduction in cost spent on auditors.
Since any invoice needing to be called back for audit can be searched for in the system in a “google-like” manner.
Searching for keywords, PO numbers, or supplier names etc.
Making it much faster than searching through paper files, or even requesting boxes back from archives.
3. Lack of drive
This isn’t meant for you hard working AP staff, but too often senior management just don’t see the need.
And let’s be honest, AP automation is hardly sexy.
This is probably one of the most frequent barriers to AP automation that we hear about.
As I mentioned in a previous article; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it… this is a high risk approach.
Since keeping things going the way they always have may appear to save time and money.
This is severely damaging in the long term.
According to the white paper; Transforming supplier invoices into an advantage…
A company processing 30,000 invoices a year could see over £200,000 in savings through automation.
In the long run, this mindset will cause increased time taken to perform processes.
Increase the chances for mistakes made by humans along the processes.
Reduced office space from file storage.
A negative impact on the environment due to use of paper & postage.
Waste of departmental budget on staff members performing mundane and un-beneficial tasks
Potentially higher turnover of staff and further increased staffing costs…
Need I go on?
Of course, the introduction of a new generation of cloud-based applications can be significant.
They can open doors for staff to work remotely, they would not have to be on the company network to be able to connect.
This can not only reduce department costs (reduced car parking perhaps?) but will increase staff morale.
The sooner we can overcome these barriers to ap automation, the sooner you can start to see the savings.
Delays to automation is more damaging to an organisation than spending a small amount of money on some software.
Hopefully you will have taken some ideas from us here.
Perhaps you have come up with something else to help!
Either way, overcoming any barriers to AP automation will help you, your organisation and your team.