I have been accused of being anti-feature. It’s not true, I think features are important because you need software to do certain jobs and those jobs translate into features. I think the reason I come across as anti-feature is because features are not the only reason to make a decision. As a matter of a fact I have found that if a company makes an AP Automation decision on features alone they will be very unhappy with their move.
Fact 1 – Complicated?
I have found that when companies make feature only decisions, they get to the end of the process and get an uneasy feeling that something is missing. A lot of times when companies get to the end of the process and have only evaluated features they won’t make a decision. The reason for that is; there are only so many way a service provider can digitize an invoice, put that invoices into an automated approval process, get it coded and approved and present that invoice into the accounting system. I really hate to write this next statement, but it’s not all that complicated. The outcome is the service provider tend to start looking similar and there is no clear winner.
Fact 2 – Right Questions:
The second fact is that when people start to evaluate Accounts Payable Automation they have a very difficult time knowing what questions to ask. This comes for the not so obvious idea that if you have no experience with something, it is difficult to ask questions about it. The troubling thing with AP Automation is that people have a tendency to think they know automation but what they really know is there current accounts payable process. This again leads folks to sticking to features because they are focused on their current process rather than improving the process.
Fact 3 – Software Does A Lot
One of the great things about software is it can do anything you want, all it takes is time and money. When looking at features with an AP Automation service provider you can unknowingly put yourself in a position of being the first to that feature. The situation is, during the evaluation stage you ask the service provider if they can do something important to your process. They say, “Yes”. Then you say, “Show me”, and they say, “Well, that would need to be customized”. Customizations are a good thing, it will get you what you want, but if you have a service provider that has too many, you have to ask yourself if you are partnered with the right company.
Fact 4 – More Important?
The last fact to consider when automating AP is that, as I wrote in my introduction, there are more important things to consider than just points and clicks of the software. Although features will insure that your task will get done they don’t do a good job of giving you the overall impact of automation. Return on investment, cost savings and my personal favorite is additional time. Those things combined with features will give you a full view of the impact of AP Automation.
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