I run across a lot of people who are evaluating Accounts Payable Automation for the first time. When we connect, I always ask a certain set of questions, even if I know the company… I just don’t want to assume anything. So one of my questions is “what is it that you are expecting automation to fix or improve?” Very rarely do I get what I consider to be a good answer.
What I normally get is a series of answers that speak to them wanting to enhance their process. Some version of, “We want AP to become more trackable, visible or more reportable. We also want to speed the process up, and eliminate late fees.” By the way, all good answers. Accounts Payable Automation can do all of those things, but the problem is, that’s only 25% of what automation can do.
Why is it Difficult?
It is extremely difficult to ask a question you have no idea about. I know a lot about American Football, but I know nothing about Cricket (very sorry European readers). As a matter of a fact I know less than nothing about Cricket. Knowing nothing would be a step up. Imagine if a Cricket professional approached me and asked me what I would want to get out of Cricket. I could answer a few things, like I would want it to be entertaining or competitive because I know it was a sport, but as far as strategy or anything advanced – forget it!
People who evaluate Accounts Payable Automation for the first time have a slight challenge that keeps them from fully evaluating the opportunity. You see, they know Accounts Payable, and they know their processes. You would think that knowing those two things gives them a leg up in knowing Accounts Payable Automation. It’s true, they would have a better chance knowing AP Automation than just anyone, but it also creates a natural blind spot.
Here is the Things
When evaluating Accounts Payable Automation you need to start over. I can’t believe that I just wrote that, I am concern that I have just scared everyone that wants to start an evaluation process off. Don’t, believe me it will be worth it. Do yourself a favor, when you start your evaluation process do these four things first.
- Review your organizations ability to change. Find out when the best time is to make a change in Accounts Payable.
- Know or find the financial impact that automation will have. I write a lot about return on investment in both of my books.
- Discover how much time you will free up with automation. Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the time that it will free up. You need to know how much time that is, but just as important you will need to know whose time is being impacted.
- Create a plan to change. Take the time and people who are freed up and make sure that the new task they do (once automated) are more important to the company than the old takes they are being freed up from.
Want to know more? Buy My Books!
The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy
The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy