My wife gets a kick out of me trying on hats, you know the “one size fits all” variety. The reason she thinks it’s funny is because they never fit my head. It makes so much sense to her that my head is always way too big for the one size fits all hats. In the Accounts Payable Automation world there is a delicate line between software, service, experience and execution. Because of that here are six trend that make it difficult for one size to fit all.
Trend 1 – Accounting System Enter
More and more accounting systems and ERP systems are adding automation functionality. This trend suggests that in the future they may be a one stop shop, but at the moment (next 3 years) the capture process seem to have eluded these systems.
Trend 2 – Document Management Helps
If you read my articles, you know that I write about document management and automation as being two different things They have similarities but the goals for each are different. This trend gets close, but until document management system focus on process improvement and time savings they will be far away from AP Automation.
Trend 3 – Watch out for the Government
This is the trend that I am most interested in. I believe that the United States is two to four federal laws away from mass, mid-market, Accounts Payable Automation adoption. There are already examples in the larger market with Sarbanes-Oxley rules, but this trend will highly encourage mid-market companies to automate. Be warned, however, it won’t be as overt as the government passing a law to automate AP, but laws will pass where automation will make compliance to the law easy.
Trend 4 – Dipping Your Toe In
I am seeing more and more of this where some aspect of the Accounts Payable system is being automated. Like receiving emailed invoices, backend scanning, or using SharePoint for storing invoices. There are even some that have created electronic approvals using Outlook. All of this is people using technology to improve a paper process. The trend here is; as you automate or electronicfy (I like making up words) aspect of the process you will want more, which will lead to a fully automated AP process.
Trend 5 – Education is Still King
This is a current trend that is not only gaining but seems to be the current state of the AP Automation union. Thankfully, because I run AP Automation News and write books, people’s thirst for information about automation is growing. Two years ago, as an example, I did 11 in person speaking events, 24 webinars and 1 article a month. As of 2014, I am booked for 29 live events and webinars up to June and I post 40 articles of different types each month. The traffic to my site has gone up 6000% and people still want more.
Trend 6 – Times Are A Changin?
I write a lot about change. I am not afraid to use the old saying, “the only constant is change”. I believe that’s true. The trend here is people are getting better about changing. Because of a recovering economy and the tech boom hangover, leaders in companies don’t just jump into the latest fad or throw buckets of money at projects anymore, so change is slower.
Sure it would be good to have one neck to choke from a technical perspective, but with so many moving parts, one size fits all in AP Automation is too far away to predict.
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