My angle on the title was the old school commercial of how many licks does it take to get to the center…. well you know. Touching paper is nothing I talk with people about, so when I was talking with someone who was already automated in AP and he told me touches was his internal selling point, I was very intrigued.
If you read any of my books, e-books, posts or articles you will know that my big thing is finding the appropriate numbers within your organization to justify and drive AP Automation. With cost, I help companies find their cost per invoice, both paper and automated. The difference is a return on investment, but the pre and post number helps an organization know if their automation project has been successful.
Time, just like cost, will give you a before and after automation number. Unlike cost the important thing about the after time number is an immediate number that will let you know the impact of automation. As I have written many times, but can’t write enough… Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the time people and effort that it can frees up, so knowing your number or amount of time is the direct link to the impact of automation.
(So) I was talking with a CFO that has been automated for about five years and I asked him how, five years ago, he justified automation to his organizations. He told me at first that he went down the route of ROI and reducing his cost. He found his number, $72,000, but he realized something very important… no one was going to write him a $72,000 checks. The money was a symbol of a positive outcome. That’s when he decided to evaluate the number of times his company touched a paper invoice.
Like I wrote earlier, I was very intrigued with evaluating automation by the number of touches. If you think about it shuffling paper is the ultimate in inefficiencies. I don’t think there is anything more useless to a company than pushing paper, so counting the number of touches a paper invoice gets touched is a great benchmark. Yesterday on a webinar I asked the audience how many times they think they touch an invoice… the answer was 10 – 15.
My co-host on the webinar was shocked by the results. After the webinar he said there was no way that number could be that low. My CFO friend’s number, after he did his research was 40 times... That’s right, he estimated that he was able to eliminate the 40 touches from his process, and his people are a lot better off because of that.
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