Have you defined ownership of AP process steps?
Join Alan Brown, senior sales consultant @ ITESOFT as he talks through 5 things to remember when detailing your AP processes.
Part 1, Alan will be delving into particular things to remember when you draw up your as is AP process, specifically ownership of the process steps.
For anyone involved in an Accounts Payable automation project, or is thinking about getting started these sessions will give you some actionable insights to help.
Watch the video, listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.
Part 1 of 5.
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Have you defined ownership of your AP process steps? The transcript.
Hi and welcome to the next and latest ITESOFT Insider View, asking if you have defined ownership of your AP process steps.
My name is Alan Brown and I am going to be taking you through this series of events that we are going to be having with this.
I am part of the sales team, a sales consultant with ITESOFT. I have been with the company for about 6 years now, before that I was doing process automation in several other organisations.
This series is all going to be about the 5 things that you need to remember when you are detailing, specifically, your AP process.
The first one that we are going to go into on this is, have you even defined the ownership of the process steps within your AP or P2P process?
Defined AP process steps at the start of the journey.
It is one of the things that I find, when I go into speak with organisations, usually at a very early stage, very early part of the process, that we are doing this with them.
It tends to be done as a white boarding session, more than anything else.
But it is asking them about what they have done so far in their process mapping, that they are now out looking and speaking with organisations like ours.
So, have you drawn up your end to end AP and/or P2P process?
Depending which one you are doing. It might be both, it may just be one part of that.
Impacting the business case.
Because this is all going to link back into “what is your business case?”
Where are the problem areas, how much of a problem is it?
Therefore, is that getting dealt with as part of the new system that you are going to put in place?
The new process that you are going to put into place.
Are you going to get a return on your investment?
Part of that is about, are you going to be focusing in the right areas for the business to be able to see benefit out of that?
Not just from a financial perspective.
Talk me through your current AP processes.
So, have you drawn up your process? What do I mean by that?
Lot of organisations that I go into, they have it in their head that they could talk me through their AP process.
They could talk me through it at a high level straight off the bat.
With most of the information.
In a lot of cases there will not be a lot of depth to it. Really, what I am talking about is, whether you have made it explicit.
And working with that drawing, or one that we will come and help you do, highlighting specific roles within the AP function, within the finance function, and more importantly out in the wider business.
The problem probably isn’t in AP.
This is people like the approvers, goods receivers, who else needs to get involved with this? Procurement for example.
It is very easy to become insular in the process and understanding just what happens within AP and the problems that are in there.
But the problems are usually caused outside of AP and AP are having to manage these processes and workarounds that are being put in place.
When you are making this explicit, and this is part of why we do the white boarding sessions, it is to be able to define in detail and depth.
It tends to be the old phrase; the devil is in the detail.
If you want to make sure that you have got the problems sorted, then you need to be in the low-level detail.
Don’t forget workarounds and suppliers.
This also includes any of these workarounds, why do you have them in place?
Is it because you have always done it that way?
Or is it because the business is working in such a way that it is forcing you to have to do things the way that you are.
This means that when you are defining part of the ownership of the AP process, is this actually to do with the business?
Or is it to do with your suppliers? And how suppliers are interacting with the business.
It could be the ownership of steps in audit, or system accountants, people like that.
For most organisations that I speak with they will have asset of accountants that will run checks before a payment run.
Are these suppliers really going to be paid? Do we need to pay them? Are they being paid on time? Is it for the correct amount etc. etc.
All the usual stuff that would go on.
Responsibilities as defined within the AP process steps.
So how much time and effort is involved in that? Do they push that work back onto AP to deal with?
Or are they taking responsibility for this work?
Understanding the ownership aspect of this is about accountability and where does that need to sit?
In a lot of cases it is not actually with AP.
AP’s job is about ensuring they have the information they need to process an invoice onto an ERP so we can pay an invoice to a supplier.
That is the basic role and function of AP.
So, it is actually out in the business for them to make the decisions about whether they want to approve something.
Or whether there a discrepancy, or a need for a credit note etc.
This then leads into, as part of the accountability, because there is a flip to this as well…
Management sign off of your new AP processes.
Is there a policy in place that specifically details what is expected, and more importantly, has got board level sign off?
Or at least senior management.
Part of what we are trying to put in place, especially when you are looking at defining your process, and that is fine for how you currently work.
But you are looking at what is our potential future process going to be? If that isn’t going to receive sign off then what happens when one of the business units says; “we are special so need to do this in a different way that the way that you are asking.”
How does that potentially impact into your business case?
We see this regularly, in many organisations, because other outlying areas of the business can not do what is expected as a best practice.
It causes extra hassle and issues which soak up extra time and effort.
Which means that AP is perceived as not being as rich and functional as it should be.
Accounts Payable’s new role in the process.
Part of being able to put a policy in place which is moving up the chain of getting sign off to say that we agree to this.
This agreement is to help enforce it because we are essentially changing the role of AP.
From being “doers” and you are still going to do things, but it is now more about enforcement.
You will be policing what will be happening in the process and enforcing certain standards that you want to have.
Speak with the people who you have defined as having ownership.
This leads to the other side of this. Have you spoken to the people in the process that you have defined?
People that could be impacted by some of the changes that you are looking to put into place with automation…
All these points that I am raising, when I go into organisations, they will have spoken to some people.
They will have spoken to some of the people in AP about what the problems are they have.
They are getting that information fed back to them from AP Managers, Financial Controllers, as they get this on a regular basis from the AP team.
If I were to ask you, who were your top 3 internal business units that give you the most grief, 99% of companies can.
It tends to be the same people, time and time again.
Define ownership of AP process steps. Achieve your business case.
Speaking with these people about why you are looking to make some changes, what they might be, and how that may help them as part of the process is a really important aspect.
It will help you achieve your aims and ambitions of putting automation in place.
This will help you meet the business case, and fundamentally then AP and Finance look good coming out the other side.
This is a really important step because it helps set the playing field for yourselves internally.
Irrespective of vendors, of understanding what you are looking at, where you are focusing and why.
And of getting corporate to buy in.
This is useful for you guys to be able to work through internally even before asking us to come in.
I’m going to wrap up now for this part 1 of this series of ITESOFT Insider Views.
I hope you have enjoyed it, have a great day and see you on the next session.