7 Keys to a Successful Accounts Payable Automation Solution

Accounts Payable Automation is relevant to any business in Australia with staff who touch invoices at some point during their work day. From opening mail, signing invoices, keying data into finance systems or filing them away, Invoices are a necessary evil to doing business.

Because of this, most businesses Upstream speak to are interested in automating their Accounts Payable Process.

When considering an Accounts Payable Automation Solution, you should think about the following 7 key areas.

1. Understand the core business problem
The most obvious area of focus in AP is the manual keying of invoice data, however this may not be the area that the quickest ROI can be achieved. Consider the other factors involved in getting an invoice paid, for example:

a. Scanning and emailing of invoices

b. Opening and sorting

c. Chasing approvals or signatures

d. Finding an invoice when a dispute or check is required

Optimising the approval of invoices may return greater benefits, particularly when the approvers are either not in the office or distributed across multiple branches or states.

2. Map out your existing process
There’s nothing like a good whiteboard session. Many businesses have never taken the time to sit down and draw up their process from start to finish. Sometimes the whole process is reliant on one staff member who knows all the special ins and outs of each supplier off the top of their head. By mapping the process, it helps you have a clear vision of where the quick wins or potential automation can have the biggest impact, as well as identify existing hurdles or road blocks.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule
Across your suppliers, there are always exceptions. When designing your Accounts Payable Automation solution work on the ‘Rule’, not the exception. Pick out your key suppliers who make up 80% of the invoices and apply the business rules based on them.

4. Accept an imperfect outcome
The end result may not be the perfect, 100% automated solution you had in mind when you started the project. However, focus on the key deliverables you set out when the project was designed. You may not achieve 100% automation, but a reduction in the time to key an invoice from 2 minutes to 30 seconds means 1 person can process double the invoices in half the time.

5. Make sure everyone is along for the ride
The accounts payable process touches the majority of an organisation. Ensure not only the finance team are involved, but also the Approvers, ERP provider and the IT department are all on the same page to deliver the outcome.

6. Be prepared to dedicate internal resources to the project
Choose an AP champion! Projects with the most successful outcomes always have a dedicated lead driving them. Nominate a project manager. Invest in both the time and infrastructure required for the project. A successful implementation requires time from both your stakeholders as well as your partners.

7. Choose the right Partner
Every business has their own Accounts Payable process. There is no “one size fits all” solution for AP Automation. Choose your partner carefully, ensuring they have the skills and solutions to meet your business objectives and work with them as a partner to ensure a successful implementation.

Want to know more about how your company can get started on an Accounts Payable Automation journey? Contact Upstream for a free consultation or demonstration.