I am starting a new series with week that looks back on things I wish I would have known. The “wish I would have known” attitude comes from a lesson learned that now seems so obvious. My hope is that my lessons learn a little later would be your catalyst to not make the same mistakes.
I write a lot about time and that successful AP Automation can be judged how much time can be freed up. When I am speaking live I always like to use an example outside of accounting. I think it makes a better point. I normally use the auto industry. In the mid-eighties Detroit decided it was time to automate its production lines. The big complaints came from workers that did not believe that a robot would be able to do the same job they could do. As it turns out, there were many jobs that robotics could do. The downside to the workers is a lot of them lost their job. Automation has a tendency to do that will larger companies.
In The Middle?
Just about all, with only a few exceptions, of my experience comes from the middle market. Those companies that have revenue from $5M – $1B annually. Unlike large companies, mid-size companies don’t have the ability to do mass layoffs when automating Accounts Payable. Better, they don’t want to do mass layoffs, because the people are very valuable to their organization, and too, they do other things than managing invoices.
If Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the time that is freed up, that time has to go somewhere. This is the things I wish I would have known early in my career. Here is an examples; if you have an accounting person that spends 50% (1040 hours a year) of their time entering invoices into the accounting system, that time will need to be allocated to another task. Here is the rub. In order for AP Automation to work… really work, the new task the person does has to be more impactful to the organization than data entry. If you shift a data entry person to (say) filing then there is no real need to automate. If you shift that person from data entry to contract negotiation or to capturing vendor discounts, then you have a very powerful message that you are using automation for the betterment of the company.
Understanding and ultimately teaching on the idea of time allocation and making sure the tasks are more important to the company took me time to realize. I wish I would have known it earlier, but my loss is your gain.
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