I don’t know if you can call this my “new kick”, but lately I have really been looking at the impact Accounts Payable Automation has on people. Now not just the obvious impact but the “real” impact.
As I have written many times, the obvious impact of AP Automation is more time, lower cost to process and gaining a return on a software investment (ROI). Not just that, but a quicker processing time, no more chasing after paper and playing the “he said – she said” game when it comes to finding invoices. There is also the obvious benefit of making Accounts Payable a profit center by applying payments to credit card accounts to get rebates. Those are all examples of what I would call “obvious” benefits. You may not be aware of them, but they are all outcomes of getting rid of the paper and having that former paper (invoices and checks) managed by a piece of software.
I am beginning to realize more and more the “real” impact of AP Automation is on the impact the change has on the people. All of those words in that sentences are important: Impact – Change – People. I try not to be so closed off that I spend all of my time with AP people and AP Automators talking about solving AP problems. I do spend a decent about of time on AP stuff (it is my job after all) but the it’s also important to look at those industries that have gone ahead of ours in the automation space. There are some thing we can learn from them.
Where I have gotten a lot of great insight and information is the auto industry. In the early eighties, the auto industry decided they were going to automate their assembly lines. There was a tremendous uproar from employees that were afraid they were going to lose their jobs (which some did) as well as push back because they couldn’t believe a “robot” would be able to assemble a car as well as a person. In the beginning the push back looked like it was correct. The auto industry stuck to automation and as the technology improved, ultimately, assembly lines becomes completely automated.
Wait There’s More
My points isn’t “stick with AP Automation – it will all work out some day”. Looking beyond that is to answer the question of, where are auto workers today because of automation? The answer is, well, there are less of them, however the ones who were able to work with the technology have become extremely skill and useful in an entirely different way, that is (my opinion) better for the worker. The automation of the assembly line made worker become more skilled and use those skills in more intelligent ways. Accounts Payable Automation is going to do the same thing for the accounting and finance industry, that why in the not so distant future you will be hiring the most skilled possible AP people.
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