Accounts payable automation can deliver huge efficiency gains and greater process control for companies ready to put their visions for process improvement into action. Often, overcoming internal inertia and achieving success can be a matter of breaking the planning and implementation process into smaller stages.
With automation in place, the way in which successful companies continue to evolve to embrace process improvement can be broken into four stages:
Build internal competence. When it comes to adopting and embracing new technologies, companies have to learn to walk before they can run. Establishing and tracking the right metrics and focusing on continuous process improvement defines the first stage of a successful implementation.
Acquiring new skills to adapt to automated processes may require a team’s culture to evolve as part of the process. Often, it’s this human factor that gets over-looked. Making sure to get buy-in from stakeholders at all levels, keeping them engaged and empowered is often key at this early stage to get the team thinking less about the way things have always been done and embracing the best way to achieve performance goals.
Break and remake the rules. Once the AP team has confidence in new systems and processes, they can begin to envision ways to break the mold. THIS is the time to look at new business rules or process improvements to drive even greater efficiency and boost KPIs. One common example? Often companies that automate AP still rely on workflow approval process for PO invoices, rather than fully automating the matching process. This is often the stage where companies simplify approval hierarchies and further streamline and automate their processes.
Straight Through Processes automate each step of a process, creating a seamless system that is reliable and repeatable each step of the way. This is the stage in which departments and their staff let go of manual processes altogether, relying on human operators to handle exceptions flagged by the system.
This stage also involves continuing to tighten the rules, optimize AP processes and modify workflows based on feedback, and from the business and learning.
Ongoing Process Improvement. In the final stage, companies have achieved fully automated processes and can now focus less on tasks and more on analysis and ongoing improvement. With timely access to KPIs that allow them to continually monitor and improve, teams that have reached this stage are truly empowered to have a meaningful impact on their business and support more strategic goals.
At this stage, companies consolidate changes from stakeholders, share successes and set new targets for improving AP performance—or share their knowledge with other departments and broaden the reach of innovation within the organization.
Often, the key to success is for companies to build upon each stage, starting by driving predictable, timely results, then continuing to automate and optimize existing processes until new, better workflows and processes become apparent.
To learn more about how to plan and implement a successful AP Automation process, contact your Artsy Technologies representative.