It is important to start things new with a definition. Definition, however, can be tricky because they don’t always speak to the impact something will have. Accounts Payable Automation is like that. I can tell you that AP Automation is a tool to streamline the accounts payable process, but what does that mean? That’s why I propose that the definition is, “Account Payable Automation is only as good as the people, time and effort it frees up”.
1 – People
I talk with a lot of people who don’t want to have anything to do with AP Automation because of it perception that automation’s key benefit is headcount reduction. For some companies, especially big companies this is a true fact. However, for most companies getting rid of their valuable employees just doesn’t make any sense. What does work, however, are those people who are freed up by automation can better use their skills in more important places in the business.
2 – Time
Time is the business world’s unofficial second currency. Just like people, time allows an organization to be more strategic. I had a friend who was talking with a woman who firmly believed that if her company bought automation then she would be out of work. He asked her, when she went to school for accounting did she take a class on data entry, filing or finding lost paper? She said no, and I think he made his point very well.
3 – Effort
Ask yourself a question… as a leader in your company, where do you want your people’s effort, on meaningless task or meaningful task? That answer is easy, but in most businesses in the US the proof is in the day in and day out meaningless task that accounting professionals do.
Time To Define
I wish I could claim that I made this wonderful definition up, but I took it from other industries and departments that are automated. If you look at something like the auto industry, years ago they replaced people with robotics and over time the people in the industry have become more technically skilled, and it’s better for the worker and the employer.
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