There are quite a few benefits to automating your accounts payable (AP). An automated system simplifies auditing, saves your employees time on tasks such as data entry, improves accuracy, and helps prevent invoice fraud. Aside from taking more time to manage, paper invoices are harder to keep track of and easy to misplace. Despite all these benefits, there are also some potential pitfalls to automated AP if you don’t approach it the right way. You need to find the right software and make sure everyone in your organization understands the advantages. The following are some key mistakes to avoid when implementing AP automation.
No Buy-in From Stakeholders
If you want to have a successful and smooth transition to automation, you need to get all the stakeholders on board with the project. Don’t wait until after the implementation to explain it. Even if the new process is successful from a technical standpoint, people will not appreciate being taken by surprise. They may resist the new system and make the transition more complicated than it needs to be. The best policy is to meet with stakeholders as early as possible. Explain the advantages of automation and answer their questions. Make sure they are kept informed of what is happening, the timetable, and the advantages. Once they understand that it will help the business grow and operate more efficiently, they’ll have no reason not to support it.
Insufficient Support From Your Team
For the transition to automation to succeed, you need to have everyone on board. If your team members don’t understand the benefits or aren’t given enough time to prepare, they won’t be comfortable with the new system. Keep in mind that most people have an ingrained resistance to changes, even when they are beneficial. Give your employees time to adjust. Train them thoroughly on the new software before it’s implemented. Emphasize the advantages, such as saving time and labor and improving accuracy. When they understand the perks, they are likely to appreciate having less work to do and a more efficient system in place.
Not Mapping Out Your Current Workflow Process
Before you can make improvements, you need to be clear about your current process. Map out every stage and identify which steps could be improved through automation. Possible tasks that you could consider automating include processing invoices that contain much of the same information every month, payment execution, and invoice approval.
Not Training Enough People on the New Software
It’s important to train multiple employees on your automated AP. There are several potential risks if only one person is familiar with it. There’s always a chance that someone may get sick or even leave the company. There’s also a security risk when one person, or even two, are the only ones who know how to operate sophisticated software. No one likes to think that their employees may be dishonest, but someone with sole access to AP software could steal money or data. Having at least a few people trained on the software ensures that you’ll always have someone available who knows how to use it. It also minimizes security risks as no one will be able to access data by themselves without their actions being observable. Training more employees also helps to get them actively involved in the transition.
Neglecting to Identify Functionality Essentials
Be sure to identify the problems that you need automation to solve. If you fail to do this, you could end up with automation software that doesn’t do everything that you require. When shopping for software, don’t let salespeople distract you with their presentations. Every business is a little different. You know your needs better than any salesperson. Before you even start looking for automated AP software, compile a list of “must-have” features and don’t select anything that doesn’t meet your criteria.
Not Benchmarking the Time and Cost of Manual AP
It’s not enough to know that automated AP will make things easier and save you time and money. You should be able to quantify the benefits. Calculating how much time and money you spend on manual AP allows you to identify the specific advantages of switching to automated AP. You’ll have hard numbers to show stakeholders and employees, which will help you build support. Once the new system is in place, you’ll be able to point to how many hours and dollars are being saved.
Not Planning For Integrations
Before choosing AP automation software, you want to make sure it’s compatible with other essential software on which you depend. For example, your accounting and ERP software will need to integrate with any new AP software you start using. Aside from asking salespeople or looking at the specifications, it’s best to actually test the software with invoices to make sure it works smoothly. On the other hand, if you notice that the process is slow, complicated, or prone to glitches, it’s best to keep looking for a more suitable solution.
Not Thinking About the Future
Most businesses have changing needs as they expand, add services, or serve different types of customers. When planning for automation, don’t only consider your current needs. Your business may go through many changes in the coming years. For example, if you start serving more customers or change your invoicing methods, it could mean that you need more robust software. Think ahead a few years and look for something that’s likely to work for you as you scale and make changes. If you need to overhaul your AP process in a few years and need a whole new system, it can be very inconvenient and costly. It’s important to choose software that meets your long-term needs.
AP Automation (Done Right) Can Help Your Business Grow
In the digital age, there’s no reason not to take advantage of the benefits of automation. Manual AP is tedious, time-consuming, and costly by comparison. At the same time, it’s not simple to make the transition if you’ve been using a manual process for a while. You don’t want to choose any automated software without doing research. Make sure you find a solution that’s the right match for your business.
If you want to learn how AP Automation can help your business, contact us.