Accounts Payable Automation Disasters


You can imagine that helping people go from paper to an automated AP process for the last 13 years that I have plenty of AP Automation disasters. (And) I do… I have the classic stories of the time the CFO got put in prison during the implementation… that one stalled… there was also the time the controller got drunk at lunch and tried to convince me to get a vasectomy… that was extremely uncomfortable.

Really – Let’s Talk

My guess is you are looking for something that will help you in your Accounts Payable Automation journey. If you read my last blog I gave advice on what a company needed to do to be prepared to automate Accounts Payable. If you didn’t read it, that post would be good to look at from a “proactive” point of view.

What a Mess!

The biggest disasters I have either heard about or have been part of (yes – I will admit that not every AP Automation project I have ever done has been smooth) has had some element of unrealized expectations. Unrealized expectations can come from the sales process or even worst can come from the leadership of the company automating.


It is a very bad day when you realize that you have created a square peg – round hole Accounts Payable Automation. Assumption with technology is not a good thing. Assumption can even take some time to show up, but what happens when expectations are not set right you start to make small compromises. The compromises are where the problems start and when they are small, over time the small compromises become big problems. An example is around workflow and the approval process. It starts with a small compromise in your approval process where the AP Automation service provider lacks functionality. Then a work-a-round is created and in my experience once you start the “work-a-round” loop you have to re-train as well as open your company up to changing a procedure that may cause trouble in the future.

My Advice

I have two points of advice. One is to make sure that when you are choosing an AP Automation service provider you should choose one that has the most flexibility. Look for flexibility in a few key ares:

(1) Integration – passing data, back and forth

(2) Workflow, approval process

(3) Changing data, to where you don’t have to delete an invoice and start over.

My second point of advice, which is my favorite, is to set your goals on AP Automation based on numbers. Most Accounts Payable Automation goals and goal achievements are normally based on features or integration… even a project plain timeline. Here are a few key numbers you can base your AP Automation success on:

(1) Return on Invoices – ROI

(2) Hard Dollar Savings

(3) New Time – Time That is Freed Up By Automation

Putting a Bow on It

If you find yourself in a “round hold – square peg” AP Automation situation, don’t panic, it’s not too late. You still have the opportunity to create a numbers based goals system to get back on track!

You Should Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

2 Replies to “Accounts Payable Automation Disasters”

  1. Reblogged this on RPxSolutions and commented:
    How to avoid the square peg – round hole disaster when automating AP – Chris does it again!

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