6 1/2 Things to Know when Getting More Time in Accounts Payable

I got a funny feeling that I am writing too much about time. Not just time… but time benefits of Accounts Payable Automation, gaining time in AP, and how to use time that Automation frees up.

Just The Facts

Well, I did some research and found that I have written 3 articles in the last month about time. That’s not nearly enough. Thing 1, that you should know is time is the natural byproduct of Accounts Payable Automation. Thing 2 is the more time you free up from Automation the better the offering. WARNING – If you are not measuring time then you will have a difficult… well… time knowing if your Accounts Payable Automation project is (was) a success.

Just A Little More

I wish I was sorry about the drama, but I know one thing about people who are searching for AP Automation and that is if they don’t have any place to put additional time… they won’t automate. I know what you might be things… it can’t be that simple. Well, it is. Now, this leads me to thing 3. Thing 3 to know about getting more time in AP is the task and therefore the time that is being freed up has to be more valuable than the current task. Another way of writing thing 3 is to state, the time has to be used wisely. It can’t even be a lateral move, it has to be an upward move or the plan won’t look good. Which is thing 4, you must have a written plan for the time that is freed up. I don’t like to create what people refer to as a “science project”, but finding the time, disturbing the time and changing people’s work time needs a plan… a good one too.

Thing 5 – 6.5

Thing 5 to know when getting more time in AP is that not just accountants or finance people should be involved in the decision. Now, I know that may sound a little obvious, and I also know that when an accounting or finance department is shopping for accounting and finance software (like AP Automaton) then it is an accounting and finance decision. That’s true, but the essence of thing 5 is to explain that the ripples will be felt throughout the entire organization and they should be in on the decision or at least consulted. (And) Finally thing 6 and thing point 5 is to party. That’s right, celebrate the change, the management of the change and the use technology to make a positive change.

Recap

When getting more time in AP you need to know:

  1. AP Automation = Time
  2. The More Time The Better
  3. Upward Movement with Time
  4. Have a Time Plan
  5. Time = Change
  6. Pat Yourself on the Back!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

How Many Touches Can An Invoice Take? #APAutomation

My angle on the title was the old school commercial of how many licks does it take to get to the center…. well you know. Touching paper is nothing I talk with people about, so when I was talking with someone who was already automated in AP and he told me touches was his internal selling point, I was very intrigued.

Cost Study

If you read any of my books, e-books, posts or articles you will know that my big thing is finding the appropriate numbers within your organization to justify and drive AP Automation. With cost, I help companies find their cost per invoice, both paper and automated. The difference is a return on investment, but the pre and post number helps an organization know if their automation project has been successful.

Time Study

Time, just like cost, will give you a before and after automation number. Unlike cost the important thing about the after time number is an immediate number that will let you know the impact of automation. As I have written many times, but can’t write enough… Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the time people and effort that it can frees up, so knowing your number or amount of time is the direct link to the impact of automation.

Touches?

(So) I was talking with a CFO that has been automated for about five years and I asked him how, five years ago, he justified automation to his organizations. He told me at first that he went down the route of ROI and reducing his cost. He found his number, $72,000, but he realized something very important… no one was going to write him a $72,000 checks. The money was a symbol of a positive outcome. That’s when he decided to evaluate the number of times his company touched a paper invoice.

Webinar

Like I wrote earlier, I was very intrigued with evaluating automation by the number of touches. If you think about it shuffling paper is the ultimate in inefficiencies. I don’t think there is anything more useless to a company than pushing paper, so counting the number of touches a paper invoice gets touched is a great benchmark. Yesterday on a webinar I asked the audience how many times they think they touch an invoice… the answer was 10 – 15.

Really?

My co-host on the webinar was shocked by the results. After the webinar he said there was no way that number could be that low. My CFO friend’s number, after he did his research was 40 times... That’s right, he estimated that he was able to eliminate the 40 touches from his process, and his people are a lot better off because of that.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

6 1/2 Things to Know when Getting More Time in Accounts Payable

I got a funny feeling that I am writing too much about time. Not just time… but time benefits of Accounts Payable Automation, gaining time in AP, and how to use time that Automation frees up.

Just The Facts

Well, I did some research and found that I have written 3 articles in the last month about time. That’s not nearly enough. Thing 1, that you should know is time is the natural byproduct of Accounts Payable Automation. Thing 2 is the more time you free up from Automation the better the offering. WARNING – If you are not measuring time then you will have a difficult… well… time knowing if your Accounts Payable Automation project is (was) a success.

Just A Little More

I wish I was sorry about the drama, but I know one thing about people who are searching for AP Automation and that is if they don’t have any place to put additional time… they won’t automate. I know what you might be things… it can’t be that simple. Well, it is. Now, this leads me to thing 3. Thing 3 to know about getting more time in AP is the task and therefore the time that is being freed up has to be more valuable than the current task. Another way of writing thing 3 is to state, the time has to be used wisely. It can’t even be a lateral move, it has to be an upward move or the plan won’t look good. Which is thing 4, you must have a written plan for the time that is freed up. I don’t like to create what people refer to as a “science project”, but finding the time, disturbing the time and changing people’s work time needs a plan… a good one too.

Thing 5 – 6.5

Thing 5 to know when getting more time in AP is that not just accountants or finance people should be involved in the decision. Now, I know that may sound a little obvious, and I also know that when an accounting or finance department is shopping for accounting and finance software (like AP Automaton) then it is an accounting and finance decision. That’s true, but the essence of thing 5 is to explain that the ripples will be felt throughout the entire organization and they should be in on the decision or at least consulted. (And) Finally thing 6 and thing point 5 is to party. That’s right, celebrate the change, the management of the change and the use technology to make a positive change.

Recap

When getting more time in AP you need to know:

  1. AP Automation = Time
  2. The More Time The Better
  3. Upward Movement with Time
  4. Have a Time Plan
  5. Time = Change
  6. Pat Yourself on the Back!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

1500 Invoices and What It Means to AP Automation

Tuesday I was speaking to a group in Boston… they asked me to talked fast because there was a snow storm on the way. You know I was very conflicted because I thought that people in Boston were used to the snow… even liked it. Then it was explained to me that the panic was due to the fact that traffic was going to be terrible, so they were more nervous of being in traffic than snow… I can understand that.

As Usual

When I talked with groups I want to make sure that they understand the purpose of Accounts Payable Automation… Time. I don’t try to be too dramatic, but I want them to know that automation is only as good as the time that is freed up. I also want them to know that an automation service provider should be judged on the amount of time they are able to free up, and that service provider should be held accountable for delivering on the amount of time they can free up.

So?

Once you buy into the idea that automaton is only as good as the time it frees up, there are two types of time, I won’t go into them too much, but you can read an article I wrote about them by clicking this link To give you the short version, there are soft dollar time savings and hard dollar time savings. The difference between the two are soft time savings is that time that Accounts Payable Automation impacts but does not completely eliminate. The example I always use is coding and approving. With paper you code and approve and when you are automated you will code and approve. Hard time savings, on the other hand, are those tasks that automation eliminates 100%. .

The 1500

Using the idea of hard time savings, there is a very interesting benchmark within your process that you are able to use, and it is one of the biggest pools of labor that can be eliminated from manual work which is entering invoices into the accounting system. Most AP Automation service providers are able to transfer invoices from their system to your accounting system without you doing anything. Note that if the service provider is unable to do this, you may want to look somewhere else. (Back to the 1500). I have found that, and this is based on thousands of AP cost per invoice studies, that for every 1500 invoices that your process every month it take 1 full-time, 40 hour a week person to do data entry into the accounting system.

Think of This

This number can work multiple ways. Frist it can tell you how many invoices per month you process, which is a fact that seems to go without notice for most accounting departments. Second, if you are doing more or less than the 1500 you can use the number as a benchmark against other companies to judge how efficient your AP group is. Third it can give you a quick measurement on the impact of AP Automation. What I mean by that is if you process 3000 invoices a month an immediate impact with automation is you will have an additional 80 per week that you can use for other tasks. Be warned those 80 hours may be spread out over 6 people, but at least you can know the impact.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

My Loss Is Your Gain – Time Allocation and AP Automation

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.

Time

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.

Allocation

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.

I Wish

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.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

It’s Time To Define Accounts Payable Automation

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.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

#3 Top Blog Of The Year – AP Automation Is Only Good If… 3 Things

I have made a lot of progress in the last few months around the definition of Accounts Payable Automation. Some of you may know that’s the reason I wrote The 8 Pitfalls was to help people define AP Automation. Others of you may know that I didn’t reach my goal when writing that book. Good news is, the book was a success for a different reason, however I still chased after a definition to help people.

Action

Turns out that one of the reasons my definition of AP Automation in The 8 Pitfalls didn’t work was it wasn’t that useful. Now, it takes a lot for an author to admit something wasn’t useful. I freely admit it because I am looking for what works, not for what sounds good or what I think is good. I really want something that is useful (I hope you can appreciate that).

Got It!

At the end of many articles and speaking engagements, I think I am on to something. Well, I know I am on to something because people are telling me that it’s working and the new definition is useful and easy to understand. The new definition is rooted in action, explaining the impact of AP Automation. That’s not the best thing, however, the best thing is the new definition is something that is easily understood and can (just as easy) be explained to others when asked. The new definition is, “Account Payable Automation is only as good as the people, time and effort it frees up”.

Thing 1 – People

I talk with a lot of people that 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 since. What does work, however, are those people that are freed up by automation can better use their skills in more important places in the business.

Thing 2 – Time

Time is the business world’s unofficial second currency. Just like thing one, this thing allows an organization to more strategically use time. I had a friend who was talking with a woman that 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.

Thing 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.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

#4 Top Blog Of The Year – What does 1500 invoices per month mean to AP Automation

Tuesday I was speaking to a group in Boston… they asked me to talked fast because there was a snow storm on the way. You know I was very conflicted because I thought that people in Boston were used to the snow… even liked it. Then it was explained to me that the panic was due to the fact that traffic was going to be terrible, so they were more nervous of being in traffic than snow… I can understand that.

As Usual

When I talked with groups I want to make sure that they understand the purpose of Accounts Payable Automation… Time. I don’t try to be too dramatic, but I want them to know that automation is only as good as the time that is freed up. I also want them to know that an automation service provider should be judged on the amount of time they are able to free up, and that service provider should be held accountable for delivering on the amount of time they can free up.

So?

Once you buy into the idea that automaton is only as good as the time it frees up, there are two types of time, I won’t go into them too much, but you can read an article I wrote about them by clicking this link To give you the short version, there are soft dollar time savings and hard dollar time savings. The difference between the two are soft time savings is that time that Accounts Payable Automation impacts but does not completely eliminate. The example I always use is coding and approving. With paper you code and approve and when you are automated you will code and approve. Hard time savings, on the other hand, are those tasks that automation eliminates 100%. .

The 1500

Using the idea of hard time savings, there is a very interesting benchmark within your process that you are able to use, and it is one of the biggest pools of labor that can be eliminated from manual work which is entering invoices into the accounting system. Most AP Automation service providers are able to transfer invoices from their system to your accounting system without you doing anything. Note that if the service provider is unable to do this, you may want to look somewhere else. (Back to the 1500). I have found that, and this is based on thousands of AP cost per invoice studies, that for every 1500 invoices that your process every month it take 1 full-time, 40 hour a week person to do data entry into the accounting system.

Think of This

This number can work multiple ways. Frist it can tell you how many invoices per month you process, which is a fact that seems to go without notice for most accounting departments. Second, if you are doing more or less than the 1500 you can use the number as a benchmark against other companies to judge how efficient your AP group is. Third it can give you a quick measurement on the impact of AP Automation. What I mean by that is if you process 3000 invoices a month an immediate impact with automation is you will have an additional 80 per week that you can use for other tasks. Be warned those 80 hours may be spread out over 6 people, but at least you can know the impact.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

AP Automation Is Only Good If… 3 Things

I have made a lot of progress in the last few months around the definition of Accounts Payable Automation. Some of you may know that’s the reason I wrote The 8 Pitfalls was to help people define AP Automation. Others of you may know that I didn’t reach my goal when writing that book. Good news is, the book was a success for a different reason, however I still chased after a definition to help people.

Action

Turns out that one of the reasons my definition of AP Automation in The 8 Pitfalls didn’t work was it wasn’t that useful. Now, it takes a lot for an author to admit something wasn’t useful. I freely admit it because I am looking for what works, not for what sounds good or what I think is good. I really want something that is useful (I hope you can appreciate that).

Got It!

At the end of many articles and speaking engagements, I think I am on to something. Well, I know I am on to something because people are telling me that it’s working and the new definition is useful and easy to understand. The new definition is rooted in action, explaining the impact of AP Automation. That’s not the best thing, however, the best thing is the new definition is something that is easily understood and can (just as easy) be explained to others when asked. The new definition is, “Account Payable Automation is only as good as the people, time and effort it frees up”.

Thing 1 – People

I talk with a lot of people that 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 since. What does work, however, are those people that are freed up by automation can better use their skills in more important places in the business.

Thing 2 – Time

Time is the business world’s unofficial second currency. Just like thing one, this thing allows an organization to more strategically use time. I had a friend who was talking with a woman that 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.

Thing 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.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

The Definition of AP Automation (In Less Than 20 Words)

Sometimes less is more. I have been accused of over explaining thing. When my son wanted to know about the birds and the bees he asked my wife. She said, “go ask your father” because we have the deal where I talk to the boys and she talks to the girls about such things. My son replied, “I really didn’t want to know that much about it.”

Definition?

If you don’t have a good definition for something then it is very hard to get others to sign up with you or get on board. That’s why one of my big crusades in life is to help people know what it means to be automated.

Less Than 20

Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the people, time and effort that it frees up.

Think?

It’s an easy definition that helps you not only explain with AP Automation does, but the impact that it will have on your company. Now the questions is, once everyone knows the definition, is how your company will use the time.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy