It is a unanimous opinion that Automation initiatives have myriad advantages for an organization. The various benefits of invoice and Procure-To-Pay automation include reduction in invoice processing costs, higher savings captured, optimization of working capital, increased visibility and access to better analytics and reporting.
A recent Ardent Partners Research Report titled “The State Of ePayables 2017” states that best-in-class organizations process 60% of their Invoices electronically and straight-through, this has a huge impact on the other metrics that matter, for instance the cost of processing a single invoice drops as low as $2.74 and the time for processing an invoice reduces to as less as 3.5 days compared to the duration of 12 days as per industry average.
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These benefits of automation are undeniable. But what can you do as change management agents to maximize the benefits gained through automation and ensure the initiative is seen through. It’s not just the automation suite you chose that matters when it comes to extracting maximum value, it is also critical to see how you implement it. What this means, is that it is of utmost importance to construct a streamlined and well defined plan to implementing an AP automation Solution.
Concerns about system implementation, change management, performance tracking and lack of knowledge about process management are some of the major reasons some accounts payable departments do not automate their manual processes despite the major inconvenience and high costs they incur. Conversely, some accounts payable departments rush blindly into poorly planned technology implementations and never achieve maximum return on investment.
Let’s look at the major reasons why organizations shy away from Investing in Automation:
- Misconception that AP Staff will have to be laid off
- Concerns of the transition to Automated Solutions disrupting the current functioning
- Suppliers will not adopt due to technical changes
- Use of ERP to process invoices is assumed to be sufficient
- Use of scan and capture technology to receive invoices
All the reasons listed above and the others the list may not have covered can be attributed to a lack of education about automation initiative as well the automation solution that may be have been chosen.
An effective plan for implementing the automation solution will include elaborate steps pertaining to the implementation; it will address change management and cover the tracking and measurability of the timelines and benefits. This will result in the organization implementing the technology, deriving maximum returns through it.
Mentioned below are 10 strategies that will not only facilitate glitch free implementation of your AP Automation solution, but will also aid your organization to maximize the ROI gained from Automation:
#Strategy 1: Get everyone on-board and on the same page: It is of utmost importance that you ensure all the stakeholders are informed about the objective and the scope of the initiative. It is also critical that they are involved in formulating a list of systems requirements.
#Strategy 2: Teamwork is key! The next step is to build an implantation team of driven professionals to monitor and take decisions pertaining to the project.
#Strategy 3: Set some ground rules: Develop and establish some processing rules based on the current process and the systems requirement. Setting these rules early-on will head-off potential problems later.
#Strategy 4: Set Realistic Timelines: Work on setting realistic timelines for the project while keeping your teams current workload in mind. This will ensure that the automation project does not derail because your employees are stretched too thin.
#Strategy 5: Set Realistic transition goals: Use a measured approach to systems implementation
#Strategy 6: IT is key: It is integral to involve IT in any systems deployment to ensure a smooth sailing journey
#Strategy 7: Grab low hanging fruits: Start out easy and automate your most basic and simple workflows and functions.
#Strategy 8: Win your Staff Over: Educate your staff, take their inputs into consideration and address any queries and resistance from their end.
#Strategy 9: Test the Plan : It would be impossible to ensure optimum utilization of your automation solution until you know what works and what doesn’t. So plan to test your solutions and it’s functionalities during implementation.
#Strategy 10: Measure, measure and measure: To know whether you’re on track and your automation is generating the yields you expected it to it is vital to measure set metrics!
Join our complimentary webinar “The Foolproof Guide to Implementing an AP Automation Solution for Maximum ROI” where Mark Brousseau (Managing Director of, Advisory Services, IOFM) talks in detail about not just the strategies listed above but also about:
- Latest IOFM benchmarks on the benefits of AP automation
- The pitfalls of a poorly planned AP automation implementation
- A step-by-step strategy for effectively implementing AP automation systems including managing integration with current systems
- Managing change and winning over front-line staff and other stakeholders
- Defining indicative timelines for achieving positive results from automation technology