Decision to automate accounts payable

So, you’ve decided to automate your accounts payable process. Now what?

There’s a lot of ‘buzz’ in the payables industry, about saving time and money with AP Automation. You’ve decided that you want to understand more about AP Automation and how it may benefit YOUR organization. What should you do next?

Here are some tips to consider as you start to move your organization toward an AP Automation Solution.

Understand your existing processes

Prior to talking to AP Automation vendors, one of the most important considerations is to understand your existing business processes.

Once you’ve determined which process it makes most sense to automate, it is important to document your current process including all the written and “unwritten” rules or policies.

Remember, the objective is to increase the efficiency of this process so investing in a workflow technology to “just do the same thing you’ve been doing for years” may not be the best investment in this technology.

Many business practices were put into place for good reason but over time they have lost their value and are only practiced because of habit, not because it still makes sense.

A good workflow partner will help you through this process evaluation and should be asking you “why” you perform certain tasks. Change is OK and in many cases, change can make a huge difference between a successful implementation (achieving your goals and objectives) or not.

Integrations

The next decision is to determine if and how the workflow will be integrated into any of your key business applications – such as your accounting system and supporting applications.

There are many forms of integration, so it’s important to understand how “tight” of an integration you need or desire. In some instances, it may only require the passing of basic data back and forth, but in other situations it should be more seamlessly integrated and in a real time environment.

When a tight integration is required, it is important to either partner with a workflow company that truly understands your applications (both technically and from a business standpoint) or have that skill set in-house.

When you engage a vendor, they will work with your technical team and consultants to help you understand the level of integration that is necessary.

Engaging a vendor

When you engage with an AP Automation vendor, they should review your process analysis and integration requirements during an in-depth discovery process.

The discovery is where your team and the vendor covers every detail of each process and integration.

Collaboration and discussion between your team and the vendor will be key in developing a scope of work document for the project.

When you get a proposal from vendors, they should be based on your specific requirements outlined in the scope of work document.

TIP: If vendors provide pricing estimates without doing a discovery and creating the scope document, the project has little success of being completed on time, on budget and delivering your desired workflow results.

As with most projects, in order to have a successful implementation that meets your functionality and cost objectives, you must be willing to spend time and resources upfront to plan the project.

If you plan and prepare properly, your project will have a much higher degree of success and will be completed on time and on budget.

This means thoroughly understanding your requirements for the solution and evaluating your options with the vendors you are about to partner with for the project.