With the new year heading our way (can you believe it?) you may start to think of the state of your Accounts Payable Automation. There is something about a new year that makes people want to improve. My favorite thing to see, as a year round runner, are all of the new faces in my neighborhood running on January 1st only to never see them again on the 2nd.
Same thing with business processes. These is a desire to ask each process if they need to improve (they won’t answer you back – if they do – let me know – that would be cool) and AP Automation is no exception. In anticipation of improvement below is a three-step beginner’s guide to finding out if you should scrap, re-implement or leave it alone.
Step 1 – Scrap
This is somewhat of a desperate situation (it is even painful to write about). It’s terrible to think if you should kill something that you put time and effort into. The key factor of scrapping your AP Automation and going back to paper (this is a terrible thought) is time. In the spirit, however, of being a helpful article and staying away from pointing out the obvious, if you are spending more time automated on Accounts Payable than with paper it is not worth it. Remember that automation of any kind is only as good as the time that it freed up. However, look in these areas, outside of processing AP for time wasters:
- Document Preparations
- Scanning and Conversion Exception Handling
- Administration (Especially if you have a home-grown product)
- IT Related Time
- Integration Exception Handling
Step 2 – Re-Implement
The above advice should be considered in an effort to re-implement, but as you go through your evaluation and you find that you are on the positive side of time, which is where you want/need to be, then look for what I call the combo-automation problem (I sure do like making up terms). The Combo-automation problem is where you have a portion of your AP process automated and another portion paper. Sometimes service providers will advise you to leave out certain types of invoices because they don’t have a good track record with them (i.e. Utilities, Credit Cards, T&E). Some paper and some automated AP is a good sign that re-implementing AP Automation would be a good goal. If you are satisfied with your current provider look for specialist to fill the gaps.
Step 3 – Leave it Alone
If you are on the positive side of time, and have no paper gaps then leave it alone. I give that advice, but it just means that you should look at other areas of improvement like a vendor portal for improved communication or more electronic documents for faster conversion, or my favorite – other aspect of the accounting process like automating AR or the payment process.
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How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy