The Relationship of Workflow and Capture with Accounts Payable Automation

Relationship are a funny thing. I have been married for 20 years and I like to tell people who if my wife leaves me I am going with her. It’s both a threat and a promise.

A little background

In the next few weeks I am starting an unofficial series on the 15 Terrible Pieces of AP Automation Advice That You Should Ignore. There is a webinar planned this week on the top too. I have been getting a lot of interest around the 15 and wanted to expand on each idea for those of you that want more details. In the next few weeks I am going to be writing about the 15 and there is somewhat of a slippery slop as it pertains to “best of breed”.

Best of breed?

I was spending time at one of those Accounts Payable Automation conferences (yep – we have those) and I got into a conversation with an AP Manager at a large company. He prescribed to the idea of best of breed. He went on to say that he didn’t care which service provider did what part of the AP Automation process as long as their software was the best. It was eye-opening to me because at that point I had thought that keeping things under one service provider. This guy had a lot of experience, so it really made me think.


The Accounts Payable Automation flow has several parts. There are:

(1) Front end capture

(2) Invoice workflow

(3) Integration points (Or point – to the accounting system)

(4) Reporting, search and retrieval.

In thinking about my friend’s notion that the best of breed could potentially lead to four separate service providers (if not more), I was somewhat overwhelmed.


But I got stuck on the first two, front end capture and workflow. As I have written in previous articles, workflow is the electronic process that invoices go through to become approved. Front end capture are those mechanisms that scan, retrieve, accept and then convert invoices into the approval process.  Is it possible to uncoupled those two processes?


Well, as you can read from the header, I believe it’s possible, but I don’t think it’s very wise. Now, this notion can be perceived as controversial, which is fine, but my angle here is more from a practical standpoint rather a “can it be done” standpoint. Practically writing, by getting a different workflow provider as a capture provider puts you in a very bad position of having to maintain the two companies interactions. This is a common thing for larger companies, and they have staffs to do this work, so my advice is directed towards more mid-market companies. You don’t want to be in the business of play “go between” with two software companies.


The expense, headaches, unknowns and time sucks are enough for me to write that capture and workflow should be the same company. If you are unable to find a service provider with the capabilities to meet your needs, the best thing to do is to keep looking.

Want to know more? 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

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