When Implementing AP Automation Go All In? – 3 True Stories

I have done 98 Accounts Payable Automation single-handedly. That’s means I had no back up or help. Sometimes people introduce me as have done “ninety-some” implementations or “around ninety”  and I always correct them to say 98… I remember all of them, most were difficult or challenging in some respect, but I remember them all.

Going All In

Rarely did I find a company that had a solid game plan on going live with AP Automation, so there was always a conversation of how it should best be done. Normally there was a small contingent of one or two people who said, “let’s go all in… you know – rip the band-aid off quickly” and others that would say, “no let’s just try one department for a few months to see how it works.” After a few of these I decided to create a third option. This article is going to give you three true stories of each option to help you make up your mind.

Story #1 – The Band Aid

About seven years ago I was doing an implementation in Chicago. It was cold… no let me take that back… it was REALLY cold. This was a very interesting company that had three separate businesses as part of their rollout. They, as a group, including a third-party consulting firm and yours truly, decided that January 1st would be the date they went live with each of their businesses at the same time. I didn’t really think anything about it, but this group had done their homework and testing and I believed they were prepared. I think it’s also important for you to know that this was the second largest company I had “single-handedly” implemented. I truly had some blind-spots. The outcome after the switch was flipped on January 1st was a lot of confusion, questions, and outright hatred for the new process. The administrators had to work overtime in answering everyone’s questions and doing a lot of hand holding. It took them about three months for things to settle down, but they got through it.

Story #2 – The Long and Winding Road

About two years before the band-aid story, I was working another implementation in the northeast. This group, a similar size to the other, was extremely conservative in nature, from the outset the leadership wasn’t completely sure AP Automation was going to work. The decision was made which included my blind spots, that each region, there were eight, would rollout separately, get established and then we would go on to another region. It took almost two years to finish the implementation. Although, compared to the first story this company didn’t have the questions and handhold, two years is a really long time, and it was very expensive.

Story #3 – Compromise?

This third story, I wouldn’t really consider it a compromise, because there is no sacrifice between the two situations, which is what makes a compromise. This story of another Chicago (it was still REALLY cold) company that initially wanted to do a rollout similar to story two because they had tried an automation project several years prior that failed. I convinced the group to try a different approach that would rollout one department for thirty days and then another thirty days after that. With the two rollouts they would have seven departments left. At that point (60 days) they would then go “all in”. It worked great!!!! So good I started using it for every implementation I did after that with a similar results.

Final Thoughts

What made the 60 day phased rollout work so well, was it allowed the company time to adjust to the change as well as find out through the first two go-lives what questions people would need answered, it was a great way to prepare. I also learned that once the first two were completed there was no reason to continue the slow rollout, at that point going all in would work.

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

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