6 Steps For Migrating To A New AP Automation Provider

I don’t think I have made it any secret that I have written books. The two that have been published are the Argument to Automate and The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation. I get a good laugh for being the guy who have written AP Automation books, but it’s my thing and I am happy to bring to the world how to go paperless by selling a paper book (that’s something my then 13 year old son pointed out when I got the first run of books).

The Path

I wrote the 8 pitfalls four years ago to help people know where the traps were when getting rid of the paper in the accounting process. I wrote the Argument to Automate to help people understand (1) if they should automate accounts payable and (2) what the physical impact AP Automation will have on their company. Having written all of that, I think it is time for a new book to help people move from one AP Automation service provider to another, and this is the start of it.

This Means War

I am kicking the idea around that the book that helps companies move from one service to another will be called, “The AP Automation Replacement Wars”. I believe there will be battles and there will be causalities, but it’s also going to be a worthy fight. To kick things off here are six steps to help in migration.

Steps

  1. Do your numbers (cost per invoice and new time). I write about this a lot with companies that are just starting their automation journey. Even though all or part of your process is automated, the numbers will help you prove areas of opportunities.
  2. Wake up the users. It’s funny, when people use technology they get complacent, just like when the Accounts Payable process was fully paper. Let the users know there is room for improvement and get their feedback on what that improvement should be.
  3. Put leadership on notice. When you expend money for a project, leadership has a tendency to say, “I thought we already took care of that”. Help them understand that AP Automation is a journey not an event.
  4. Do your homework. Find the service providers that have a good reputation, some you have seen at events and shows as well as the feedback you get from colleagues you trust in your industry.
  5. Find the gaps. Once you have done your homework and have identified the service providers you could move to, find the holes they will fill and the improvements in your current process.
  6. Make the case. Based on the numbers and the attitude of the company as well as their willingness to change make your case to switch based on the numeric impact of the gaps.

 

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 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 who 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

Conference Call Video… Just For Fun

It has been a long time since I have posted anything that didn’t have to do with Accounts Payable Automation… but today is the day.

Check out this video – if a conference call was live:

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 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 who 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

6 AP Automation Tricks Every Accounting Pro Should Know

I am sure you have heard of tools of the trade or tricks of the trade. AP Automation is no exception there are some tricks that you should know, even if you have had no paper in accounting for 10 years or you are just getting started.

Trick 1 – Time

I wanted to get the easy one out-of-the-way, but time is the single most important measurement with Accounts Payable Automation. Really with any automation it is only as good as the time the automation freed up.

Trick 2 – Fraud

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are better off automated with no paper than with paper. For those of you that are just started out, you will be unease with this fact. Once you really look into the details you will realize that paper is the most unsecured method of transmitting information.

Trick 3 – Change?

The companies that automate better than others have a stronger culture of change. If you have been struggling with automation look at how well you communicated and the company has adopted change.

Trick 4 – Know Where You Are Going

Because AP Automation is such a change and accounting and finance people are a conservative group, starting small and adding over time is a great route to take. The trick is to know that you are starting small and you must have a vision for the end game.

Trick 5 – SaaS

Software as a Service is your friend. This has a big dependency on your internal IT folks. If they are control freaks then you may have a bigger battle. Fortunately SaaS is more common now so IT people are finding that them being outside of the project is a good thing.

Trick 6 – Focus

I have written a lot about AP Automation vs. document management. The conclusion that I have come to is that they both serve good purposes. However, it’s important to not get the two confused. If your goal is to eliminate paper from accounting, and here is the key, improve and change the process, automation is your focus.

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 startedAvidXchange 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.

 

 

 

The Worst Reason Ever to Automation Account Payable!

I wrote about this in my 8 Pitfalls book… 16 years ago when I started my accounts payable automation journey I used to ask my potential clients as well as my audiences how many people were automated? In the early days a few folks would raise their hand. Then I said, “In the future (not giving a time frame) how many people were going to be automated” and 100% of the group would raise their hand. The challenge with people automating and it being the “new-normal” is no one really knows when the future is going to start.

The Law!

I like to follow the notion of when people are going to automate accounting by this perspective. That is, typically, in business people won’t really do anything until they have to, and I mean really have to. Especially something like automated AP where, let’s face it the old way is not so bad. By in large invoices get paid and there aren’t too many late fees and fire drills. Plus it’s a system that have been working in some companies for over 50 years… without change… yep I am trying to be funny here. This statement may seem strange coming from one of the biggest advocates of automation, but first and foremost I am a realist in the complex world of change. The reality is the United States and it’s business community are two to three federal laws away from mass adoptions. Meaning that true mass adoption of automation in accounting won’t really happen until the government steps in. I don’t know what your politics are but making automation a law is a pretty good motivator. I am also not saying that the government should step in. There has been movement in other countries and even thing like Sabines – Oxley laws are examples of rules where automation can help. The bottom line is most people need a real good reason to automated. Now, I write a lot about this and thought today I would take a different approach by writing about the worst reason to automate accounting, and the unfortunate thing is the worst reason is the most popular.

The Worst

Back to the idea that one day accounting is going to be automated the worst reason to automate is because one day accounting will be automated. There is an popular notion that “I had better automate accounts payable” because everyone is doing it or because I need to get with the times or bring my business into the 21st century. Although I really understand that, modernizing a process should be a secondary side bonus and not the entire purpose. The driving force behind automating is to improve the work of your employees. To take your smart and able employees and put them on to tasks that have a higher impact to the organization, rather than have them filing, opening envelopes and system data entry. The great news is when you focus on improving your employees’ work life you are truly entering the 21st Century.

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 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 who 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

If AP Automation Was a Tattoo!

A friend of mine gave me this idea – and without thinking I am running with it… I hope you enjoy!

In January of 2007, The Pew Research Center reported that 36% of 18-35 year olds have at least one tattoo. (Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1636218)  Also, 28% of the US population has a college degree (Source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_47/b3960108.htm).  So, what does that mean?  Well… nothing really – I just get a good laugh when I quote those stats.

I thought it would be very entertaining to compare an AP Automation project to a tattoo… and, if you have done an AP Automation project – find out which one is yours and bring it up in a meeting next time.

There are 5 basic categories of tattoos:

Abstraction Tattoos and AP Automation
Mostly done in shades of black and classic gray, such tattoos commonly include tribal and Celtic style tattoos, Old English
lettering, or Chinese symbols. If your AP Automation was this tattoo you would be like most AP departments, having a front end capture with some type of indexing in addition to workflow and reporting that is integrated into your accounting or ERP system. Often  people will comment on how nice your Automation is and ask where you got it, but not too much more than that.

Naturalistic Tattoos and AP Automation
These tattoos involve minute detailing, shading and perspective, and are done in such a way that imparts as much realism as possible. As with the above, these AP Automations would include front end capture, workflow, reporting and integration.  However, there would be a few additional aspects that seem small on the surface, but make a big difference.  This would involve less indexing and data entry and more OCR or electronic technology. Once up and running, people will comment on the intricacy of the operation and may become somewhat intimidated by the scope and size of the project – this type of Automation takes a lot of work too…

Dedication Tattoos and AP Automation
Dedication tattoos involved the use of the sailor-based designs, like the heart and name banner, the anchor with a ship name, and the insignia of a military regiment. If these tattoos were AP Automation they would come off the back of a long time Director of AP who has left the company (or retired).  He or she loved the paper… and the new staff’s first move was to automate immediately after the doors shut from the going away party.

Simplification Tattoos and AP Automation
Simplification tattoos do not have limiting boundaries in terms of the design.  Almost any and every shape and size can be included in this type, as long as it is stylized by the tattoo maker. If this tattoo was AP Automation it would be like having a cousin that claims to know SharePoint like the back of his/her hand and creates a custom solution for you.  These are great when they work… but be aware that if something changes (style, systems, needs) you are stuck with an “artist’s touch”.

Complex Tattoos and AP Automation
Complex tattoos involve designs that are much more intricate than the other styles.  They consist of an amalgamation of various tattoos, making them much more impressive than other types of designs.  This AP Automation project/build would have started with a huge RFP that includes a lot of people in your company and a lot of service providers. Complexity in the software world is both a blessing and a curse.  The difference between the two has to do with the competence of the person “running the show”.  I have seem both sides of this and, just like a complex tattoo, if the creator knows what he/she is doing – there is nothing more beautiful!  If the creator doesn’t … well… you’d keep your shirt on as much as possible.

In the 8 Pitfalls I wrote a lot about finding out who you are… doing business soul-searching and goal setting.  As the book is getting more and more readers I get more feedback on it usefulness.  A comment I get more times than not is, “Thank you for helping me do my home work.” Out of the 8 Pitfalls, the first three (which encompass 50% of the entire book) are about looking within your company to set appropriate goals…

I guess another way of saying it is if you want a large tattoo on your face… don’t expect to get a job in Finance!

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 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 who 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

5 Conversation Starters for AP Automation

For those of you that feel alone in the desire to get rid of paper invoices by Automating Accounts Payable, I thought I would give you a few ideas to start the conversation.

There Are 5

  1. What is our current cost to process? AP Automation has a habit of impacting cost. As a matter of a fact if you don’t reduce your cost you are not doing automation right.
  2. What would we do with more time? The natural by-product of cost reduction is more time. As I have written a lot about, I help the middle market, which doesn’t have a lot of specialist in accounting so time allocation is a big deal.
  3. How has paper influenced our process? I like to tell people that their accounting process isn’t broken it is just suffering from paper related problems. Problems like lack of tracking and accountability.
  4. Can we use our people better? Along with point two this point takes the idea of time allocation further; meaning Accounts Payable Automation can eliminate tasks that are unskilled so your skilled people can work on more important things.
  5. What would better data mean to our decision-making? AP Automation can tell you multiple of dozens of things about cash, people, timing and time as well as expense management. With better data, there is always better decision.

Did You Notice?

In my conversation starters did you notice that I didn’t mentioned anything about software? That’s an important part about starting the AP Automation conversation – which it’s not centered on software. Now, the software is important and it needs to be evaluated, but if you live by the software – you will die by the software (price – timing – additional projects). If your conversation is started with impact and outcome you will have a better chance of getting the word going in the right direction.

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 startedAvidXchange 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 usfor more information.

With AP Automation is Industry Knowledge Important? 3 Things

It is one of the things I ask when evaluating software… do you know my industry? That’s when the software provider say, “So, what is Accounts Payable Automation anyway?”

Important?

People, generally, believe their Accounts Payable process is unique. If you look at it from a high level, there are only so many ways to open, route, approve and enter invoices into an accounting system. The unique understanding they have tends to come from their internal pain as well as the pain they feel from their vendors. I get those responses a lot where the people evaluating AP Automation say, “There is no way your other clients have the inattention to detail like our users…” or ” Our vendors are so unorganized, there is no way we can automate with them.” Last but not least, “our process has so many twist and turns that I can’t possibly see how Automation would work for us.” With these messages, I can see where someone would gravitate towards a service provider that has knowledge in their industry, but it’s not the most important factor. Consider these three things.

Thing 1 – Problems:

There are some problems in AP that are universal and have to do with the paper and not the company. Problems like, lost invoices, slow process, no visibility to the process, and lack of defined approvals (just to name a few). There are also process problems like spending too much time on certain tasks like filing or data entry as well as skilled employees doing unskilled things like entering consumption information into spreadsheets. My advice when looking for an Accounts Payable Automation service provider is to concentrate on the things I listed first. Find the service provider that solves the problems paper creates… and find the one that does it the best.

Thing 2 – Experience (Period)

If you are looking for experience, industry knowledge should rank belong years. What I mean by that is it is more important (in this day and time) to have more years as an automator than industry knowledge. I wrote “in this day and time” because I wanted to make a point about AP Automation software and service as being early in its development. What I mean by that is AP Automation is still a new idea, and as time goes by there will be more experienced users, leaders and companies. (However) At the moment a company that has 2 years of experience with industry knowledge versus a company with 10 years… the company with 10 years should be more valuable to you than industry knowledge.

Thing 3 – Now!

When it comes down to it and you have two or three evenly matched AP Automation service providers and one has experience in your industry, that’s a plus…. I would recommend choosing that provider.

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

The Outcome and Impact of #APAutomation

I tell people who are new to Accounts Payable Automation, whether they are a users, evaluator or salesperson the same thing. I tell them the problem with AP Automation is people don’t know what it is, how it works or the impact that it will have on their organization. Then a pause for a minute and say, “other than that they are fine with automation” and a pause again to see if they laugh.

Need to Define

I have written many times in these articles that I wrote The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation to help define the automation world. I have also written many times that the book didn’t meet that goal, and became more of a best practice book (which is great!).The second book I wrote, The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire was intended to help people develop facts on use to answer the question, “should I (customer) automate AP”. So far that book has also missed it mark (not by much) and has become more of a tool to help define AP Automation (oh boy).

The Definition:

In both books I define Accounts Payable Automation with words… “the independent movement of liabilities through a predefined approval process” (p.18 The 8 Pitfalls). However, what I have found is a definition needed to be more “action” oriented. So my wordy definition changed to, Accounts Payable Automation is only as good as the people time and effort that it frees up.”

What Next?

Once I changed my definition from wordy to action(y), people had the opportunity to quickly understand and (better) were able to transfer that understanding to others within their company. As time has gone by, I have learned another very useful aspect about the action defining; it created a really big question that needed to be answered, and that is if automation is only as people as the people, time and effort that it frees up, then (1) who are those people, (2) what is that time and (3) how much effort?

High Level:

This is really the key to finding out if AP Automation is something that would work for your organization. The book (Argument to Automate) gives you a step by step process on finding people, time and effort, but the important question to ask yourself before you go through the steps is: Do you have any need for more time or to better use your people? If you answer yes to either one of those questions (or better both) then you have at a high level found out that Accounts Payable Automation is something you need.

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 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 who 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

6 AP Automation Tricks Every Accounting Pro Should Know

I am sure you have heard of tools of the trade or tricks of the trade. AP Automation is no exception there are some tricks that you should know, even if you have had no paper in accounting for 10 years or you are just getting started.

Trick 1 – Time

I wanted to get the easy one out-of-the-way, but time is the single most important measurement with Accounts Payable Automation. Really with any automation it is only as good as the time the automation freed up.

Trick 2 – Fraud

Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are better off automated with no paper than with paper. For those of you that are just started out, you will be unease with this fact. Once you really look into the details you will realize that paper is the most unsecure method of transmitting information.

Trick 3 – Change?

The companies that automate better than others have a stronger culture of change. If you have been struggling with automation look at how well you communicated and the company has adopted change.

Trick 4 – Know Where You Are Going

Because AP Automation is such a change and accounting and finance people are a conservative group, starting small and adding over time is a great route to take. The trick is to know that you are starting small and you must have a vision for the end game.

Trick 5 – SaaS

Software as a Service is your friend. This has a big dependency on your internal IT folks. If they are control freaks then you may have a bigger battle. Fortunately SaaS is more common now so IT people are finding that them being outside of the project is a good thing.

Trick 6 – Focus

I have written a lot about AP Automation vs. document management. The conclusion that I have come to is that they both serve good purposes. However, it’s important to not get the two confused. If your goal is to eliminate paper from accounting, and here is the key, improve and change the process, automation is your focus.

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 startedAvidXchange 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 usfor more information.

 

 

 

There Are 2 Things to Know When Calculating Accounts Payable Cost #APAutomation

One of the first steps in knowing the impact of Accounts Payable Automation is calculating what your Accounts Payable process cost.

Start Here

What is your current cost per invoice is one of the first questions I ask someone when starting or wanting to improve their AP Automation journey.

2 Things

1. Hard Dollar – This is cost that is associated to tasks that, when automated are eliminated 100%. Look at the chart below. The steps in the Accounts Payable process that are slashed are previously people, time and effort that the organization doesn’t have to do… software will take over the task… creepy huh?

2014_01_03_11_19_06_20

2. Soft Dollar. Well if hard dollar are costs associated to those process steps that are completely eliminated then soft dollar are those costs that impacted by Accounts Payable Automation, but not completely eliminated. (Again) Using the graphic above you can see the coding and approving of invoices are example of soft dollar cost. When automated, the ideas is automation can help (greatly if done right) coding and approving, but the tasks are still part of the process. They are business decisions that still have to be made, so they are not eliminated 100%.

Be Warned

I was thinking to write a title to this section more dramatic than “be warned”… but maturity has gotten the best of me (dang), so on with the warning.

If you base decisions (change, ROI, Cost Per Invoice…) on soft dollar cost you have put yourself in a position to not achieve your goal. Soft dollar is a moving target that cannot be accurately pinned down. I guess I can write that soft dollar is like shifting sand… and you know what happens when you build a house on that stuff.

More?

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with soft dollar savings, it’s just not good when setting and achieving numbers based goals. Hard dollar on the other hand is a much better benchmark because the tasks are there and when automated they are gone. If the task of entering invoices into the accounting system cost your organization $4.50 per invoice, then you can expect to have a cost reduction of $4.50 per invoice. Now… here is the best news. At the end of the process you find that you only saved $3 and not the $4.50… you have more work to do. That’s probably the biggest benefit of using hard dollar cost.

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 startedAvidXchange 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.