Limitations Within Existing Accounts Payable Automation Platforms

As with all technology, there are limitations within existing Accounts Payable Automation Platforms.

With the advent of cloud solutions, more and more organisations are able to consider investing in disruptive solutions within the back office.

Cloud technology is now well and truly embedded in our corporate consciousness, for a lot of very good reasons. Its scalability and reduction of financial impacts cannot be ignored.

As even the largest ERP vendors have now established their cloud offering, the initial concerns that people had about security appear to have abated.

But, is the cloud going to answer all of your company’s needs? Is this always the best way to go when it comes to disrupting your back office?

Any business that is looking to make such an investment should consider the pros and cons of the solutions that are available.

What Are The Options?

Over the last few years there has been a multitude of options that an organisation could make use of to disrupt back office functions.

A number of these have fallen by the wayside (barcodes, templates etc.), and a few others (such as outsourcing) we will not go into here as they are not actually improving organisational efficiency, merely transferring the process to someone else.

From a technological perspective, over the last few years, there has been a decision to be made between cloud services or on-premise installed solutions.

Both of these solutions come with benefits and pitfalls, it has been down to each organisation to assess these themselves, and decide what fits better with their business model.

We shall start with the more established of these two offerings.

On-premise Installed Solution.

Simply put, these solutions made use of the best in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to deliver the best available reading rates to organisations.

This was then combined with a platform that was “made to measure” for each installation. Very little was out of the box, all workflows, integrations etc. were made to fit the needs of the organisation that purchased it.

In fact, rather than a solution, organisations were investing in technology and a company’s knowledge and ability to deliver this.

As such, any organisation that invested was pretty certain to make a good Return on Investment (RoI), normally within about 18 months of solution go-live.

However, getting to the RoI was often a long and painful task. As the solutions were highly configurable it meant that the project and implementation costs were always high. Combined with this was the time in which it took to actually get a solution delivered which could often exceed 6 months from purchase.

Internally there was very little cost benefit elsewhere in a business. In fact, because of the need for internal technical resources to manage and maintain the platform there was even a risk if increased pressure in departments like IT.

So how does the cloud compare?

With cloud technology evolving we are seeing that a much broader number of organisations are able to implement disruptive solutions.

The cloud allows for an enormous cost reduction, not only in purchasing a solution, but to internal costs associated with running a platform.

Cloud solutions should be managed and maintained by the provider, removing the need for heavy internal technical skills, servers etc.

Cloud solutions are also far faster to implement, in most cases taking only days to go live from purchase.

Of course, with these benefits there are compromises.

The vast majority of cloud solutions are built on the concept of one size fits all. Just consider Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube etc. Fundamentally these are cloud solutions.

When we log into these solutions we all see something very similar, something that has set rules and processes that are applied to all users. The same can be said for a lot of cloud based disruptive solutions.

Even where there is some flexibility, this is often restricted. You can choose from 1 of the existing workflow patterns, for example.

Unfortunately, cloud solutions have not answered the issue of decaying matching rates for organisations.

Even if initial match rates are good, these will almost always decay over time as a direct result of failure to effectively clean, manage and update supplier master data.

In Conclusion.

There are limitations within existing accounts payable automation platforms.

When you are considering what type of technology you would like to implement, it is important to consider both the benefits and negatives of the technology.

This applies, regardless of whether this is a solution for the automation of Accounts Payable, or for recording calls in a call centre.

Equally as important is to understand what your organisation expects, and can manage. If you don’t have the internal resources to manage another platform, maybe the cloud is the answer.

Engage with departmental heads, engage with Directors and C suite management, discuss what your organisation needs, wants and hopes to achieve. Then talk to vendors.

As time progresses, and as we see more as-a-service solutions arrive in the market there will be changes to the status quo. We are living in an era when disruptive technologies are advancing at an enormous rate. This can be a great thing if we consider, carefully, what we need to achieve.


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Post by John Stovold

Responsible within ITESOFT UK for the support of creating and delivering new content, John has worked in B2B environments for more than 10 years. He has established himself as a true thought leader within finance automation, robotics and AI striving to deliver key messages to both senior, and middle management. John’s experience of working closely with business management, he has been able to provide key insights into business challenges, and how ITESOFT can truly help them.

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