All across the UK, Accounts Payable managers are striving for change in the way their team process their supplier invoices. Even with this desire for more efficient processes, they often get burned when senior management present barriers to automating AP.
This may discourage the weak of heart, but any forward-thinking AP manager has gone back to the drawing board to prepare a new battle plan on how to tackle these barriers.
Due to new technology and modern processes, these barriers can now be swiftly vaulted.
What follows is 3 barriers to automating AP that I have come across when speaking to these managers, and how to overcome them.
Lack of 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.
Luckily, many AP processes are fairly similar, with only a few subtle changes per organisation. This allows applications to be built upon rules from best practices.
Modern 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 however, so don’t forget to let IT know you intend to add to your bag of Apps, or you might just find it won’t work!
If your organisation is worried about the on-going need for support, updates, and other tasks usually left for IT, worry no more! A cloud hosted application can be kept up to date by the provider as part of your contract. You also release the responsibility of making sure the servers are running since that is now the job of the cloud service provider.
The lack of server resource required may also help free up some space in your office, and this foray into the cloud may act as a catalyst to your companies’ culture and in turn, free up IT resource…
Lack of 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 the fact that the cloud service provider (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS etc) works with so many companies to host software means they are able to stretch the costs to a more digestible amount.
Since this is a cost saved by the IT department (they can reduce their number of servers, etc) that IT could cover the hosting costs out of their savings created by your choice of solution.
Remember that budget can be acquired through savings, and these savings can manifest themselves in various ways.
For example, saved time manually processing invoices can lead to more time spent on more beneficial activities, such as supplier management and negotiating early payment discounts.
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 insidious, for example if a supplier thinks you may have lost their invoice, they may send through another one to make sure it is paid!
They could also be a reduction in cost spent on auditors, since any invoice needing to be called back fur 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.
Current Processes Working Well Enough
As I mentioned in a previous article entitled “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… or should we?” this is an unhealthy attitude.
Since keeping things going the way they always have may appear to save time on project meetings and costs, this is severely damaging in the long term. According to ITESOFT’s whitepaper “Transforming supplier invoice processing into a competitive advantage” a company processing 30,000 invoices per year could see over £200,000 in savings through automation, when compared to a manual process.
In the long run, this mindset will cause increased time taken to perform processes, 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, and a waste of departmental budget on staff members performing mundane and un-beneficial tasks causing high turnover of staff and further increased staffing costs… Need I go on?
Of course, the introduction of a new generation of cloud-based applications could open doors for staff to work remotely, since they would not have to be on the company network to be able to connect to their systems. This can not only reduce department expenditure (reduced need to car parking perhaps?) but will increase staff morale.
The sooner can overcome these barriers to ap automation, the sooner you can see the savings manifest. As far as I am concerned, a delay to automation is more damaging to an organisation than spending a small amount of money on some software that can save a serious amount of money.
Feel confident yet?
If this article hasn’t given you the gusto to get up and go to your senior managers and demand an AP Automation project right now, I would be interested to know why.
Drop a message across through our “contact us” page and we will be happy to assist with any queries.