Workflow, for those of you that don’t know, is the engine that powers Accounts Payable Automation. The definition of workflow is a predetermined electronic approval process. Electronic and predetermined are the two keys words of the definition.
A Little Confusion
Workflow can be confusion because it can mean both the approval process and the software. For today’s article when I refer to workflow, I am referring to the electronic approval process.
(1) The most common problem is the service provider that you have chosen to be your workflow partner has limitation. The symptoms of limitation can best be summed up into two words:
Work-A-Rounds and Customization.
Don’t let the service provider’s problems become your problems
(2) The next common problem with workflow is trying to limit the amount of people. There is a strange idea that people have when first starting a workflow process that they have to limit the number of approval process as well as the number of approvers in each process.
(3) The third and final problem is putting too many people in the approval process. If you have everyone in the company approving every invoice, sure you won’t leave anyone out, but you will create a “boy crying wolf” attitude around invoices, which will guarantee that none of your invoices will get approved on time.
(1) Be diligent in the approval process to vet that the service provider can meet your needs. Your inclination will be to give the service provider some of your invoices and use those invoices to “test” the system. That won’t work. You will need to get a basic demo of the software, references (ones they give you plus ones you find yourself) and my best advice are predetermined guarantees on any outstanding approval processes. (Also) Don’t run yellow lights like the two big ones I gave you – Work-A-Rounds and Customizations. Get to the bottom of them to know why the company can’t do it.
(2) If the service provider’s software is good enough the number of approval process you have will be irrelevant.
(3) Only approvers should be in the approval process. Anyone that just wants to be in the loop or know what is going on can be satisfied with a report or a search.
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