Any software deployment can be an epic fail if you do not know what you’re looking for. Before shopping for AP automation software, follow these routine, yet often overlooked tips to make your journey towards digital transformation a success.
AP Automation has become a must-have for forward-looking companies in recent times. One of the reasons is the quick ROI that companies get — usually users experience a good turn around in invoice processing cycle times and cost per invoice within 6 months of deployment. But there have been a number of instances where companies have failed to capitalize on intelligent automation simply because they failed to identify the right application to manage their accounts payable operations.
Know Why You're Doing What You’re Doing
It’s like buying a bicycle that everyone has been raving about — and yet, you failed to find out if it would actually be functional on the muddy tracks that you usually take to work. Not knowing whether the AP automation software meets your business requirements adequately is one of the biggest impediments to you transitioning to digital transformation through and through. From the plethora of modules and functionalities that every AP automation software in the market offers, you need to find out if a particular intelligent automation solution addresses all the challenges you have been facing in AP. We’ll discuss the checklist that you need to come up with and the must-haves that will ensure the successful implementation of AP automation software for your business.
Find All the Right Reasons to Go Digital
As a first step, you have to ask yourself why you decided to switch to AP automation? There could be several influential factors that prompt businesses to turn digital — competitive pressures and the race to dominate the marketplace are good enough reasons to turn AP smart; additionally, you always want to gain control of your operating and labor costs. But these are factors that will be accomplished once you install the software and run it for a significant period of time. These are not the criteria on which you should be making your purchase decisions. This is where businesses falter as they more often than not decide on a product based on the end goals that it promises to deliver. It is better to learn if the product in question is workable —
- Scalability: You are required to process 90000 inbound supplier invoices amounting to millions of dollars annually. Scalability is a critical feature that must be taken into account when shopping for AP automation software. As your business grows, you need to ensure that the software you purchase will be able to process a large volume of invoices in the same cycle times that you would a limited number. Ask your vendor if the software will suffice your department needs.
- Ease-of-Use: where is the need to go digital if you had the most skilled manpower that performed tasks accurately every time? Well, that’s the problem, human capital, while indispensable, has its limitations in terms of continuous output and accurate results. Mistakes are bound to be made when you enter data manually. Also, there is the problem of learning new software that could take up a lot of one’s time, not to mention the additional resource you would need to train your personnel to adopt the software effectively. Ease-of-Use is a big part of successful implementation of any product or service, ask any customer! Ask your vendor if you need to rely on the user guide or a trainer for every operational glitch that you encounter and whether it is a viable solution for your non-technical staff to adopt? Not everyone gets IT, and your AP staff certainly shouldn’t have to suffer for that! Your question should be: how quickly can your staff get into work mode using the software?
- Intelligent Automation: one of the perks of automating your mission-critical processes is that you save on labor costs and operational inefficiencies. Manual data entry introduces errors in the accounts payable process — injecting wrong data from the very beginning of a process can have a ripple effect where you will be dealing with false results and undesirable outcomes at every stage. Intelligent automation eliminates these challenges and introduces a system of accurate data entry and processing from the very beginning, so you are assured of accurate results at the end of a process. Intelligent automation also reduces user intervention and manual effort by minimizing exceptions — AP automation bots use AI and Machine Learning to recognize, capture, and process invoices having varying templates and formats. For every new invoice that the bot needs to process, it retrieves user actions performed on that invoice from memory and applies that to process all similar invoices. User intervention is reduced progressively as the bots create a memory bank of user actions performed to get work done and apply those when needed. Ask your vendor whether the AP automation software has embedded in it cognitive technologies that will enable unattended and straight through processing of invoices.
- Integrations: you’re eager to use a certain gadget that works on battery. You’re excited, motivated, and hoping to utilize it to the fullest — till you realize the battery you’ve purchased is the wrong size and fit for your gadget. What a bummer! If we are to create an analogy based on this, we can argue that often, amidst the extensive research that has gone into learning about the usefulness of a product or service, we fail to find out whether it fits your overall application requirements and business model. Ask your vendor whether there is scope to integrate the AP automation software with your existing ERP or accounting system and if there is a risk of disrupting existing systems or processes.
- Data Privacy: data privacy is a critical aspect of business ethics and governance policies. While accounts payable may not hold large databases of private data, there are certainly data points in vendor invoices like vendor details and financial data that may come under various government legislations like GDPR. Sensitive business data generated during interaction with vendors also needs to be protected. Make sure to ask your vendor if the AP automation software will process accounts payable data in accordance with related legislations. Another point to consider is if your business data will be safe, especially if your business is hosted in the cloud.
AP automation elevates your enterprise and AP department to best-in-class, as this niche manufacturing unit will tell you. As with any new course that you adopt in business, investment in invoice processing automation must also be made considering all plausible hurdles and outcomes.
Ready to bring best-in-class to your AP? Talk to Artsyl.