Rory Coleman-Smith Sep 20, 2021 9:23:59 AM 8 min read

Jobs are going remote, so why should you automate your P2P process?

Any job that isn’t hands-on, nose to the grindstone work, could arguably be done from home.

Traditionally, the biggest obstacle in remote work has been communication, but, when tasks are automated less communication is needed.

This is why you need automation, especially in your P2P process, to support a truly flexible working environment.

Why go remote in the first place?

‘Going remote’ does not mean you get to pick what we watch after this episode of Friends (spoiler alert, it’s going to be more Friends) hopefully, you didn’t think it did. Otherwise, maybe don’t read the rest of this blog, for both our sake… 😊

When I say remote working, WFH (Working from Home), flexible jobs, etc. I mean a job that lets you work at home most of the time, if not all the time (flexible work doesn’t mean a Yoga Instructor – yes, I can make these types of jokes all day!).

For the seasoned technophile, long-distance communication over the internet is a norm.

From millennial teenagers swapping rumors on MSN, to gamers creating entire communities on Discord, the internet has always been a tool for communication.

So why do remote teams struggle with it when it’s for their job?

Sometimes, WFH reluctance is entirely fueled by a fear of change, other times, some people just don’t know or understand enough about non-physical communication.

As a phone-call-fearing millennial, I thrive on being able to drop an instant message to a colleague to ask about something and allowing them to reply when suits them, while getting on with other work (unless it is my boss who keeps hitting the call button!).

Obviously if something is especially important and time sensitive, I send them an email with their manager CC’d (you thought I was going to say, “pick up the phone!” Gah!).

Where does the P2P process fit in all this?

Glad you asked.

In the office space, a manual P2P process is far easier than in a remote situation. It may be horrifically inefficient, bad for the environment, and incredibly unsafe, but I’ll admit, it’s easier to pass paper around an office than to post it across country just for a stamp or signature.

Now that we’re working remotely, we either have to deal with the post office every day or begin the dreaded ‘manual-digital’ process. ‘Manual-digital’ in this context means it’s still a manual, labor heavy process, but the paper invoices are scanned in, and people are now typing from a .pdf file instead of the hard copy.

Where that hard copy is now, who knows (or cares?)! For the sake of this article, I’ll call this a ‘dual screen’ process.

The ‘dual screen’ P2P process.

The dual screen process comes with its faults, naturally, as well as a few variables.

Are the .pdfs arriving as an email attachment, or is it a centralized file that updates as you edit/approve it? Are you sure to scan each page perfectly, or are one in every 100 invoices going in the scanner facing the wrong way and capturing a blank page?

I could go on, but I don’t need any more nightmares, thanks.

While you may think I’ve lost the plot and strayed off the garden path, I haven’t. This process sucks.

It sucks for your suppliers (or vendors for our friends in America), and it sucks for you. But what does this have to do with communication? Everything.

Disjointed, separated processes and functions are no good for anyone unless you can quickly and easily find out where a task is on its journey. It’s the same reason we’ve recently migrated to ‘Monday.com’ in the Compleat Marketing team, if not just for the bright colors…

Without clear and instant communication, it’s understandable that someone might re-submit an invoice for payment, or even think someone else has sorted it and leave it alone. Things get paid twice; things get left behind.

Now it’s time to see the light because there is a solution, and it’s called automation.

Going remote? Automation saves the day (of course!).

I’m sure you get it all the time: ‘Have you automated your AP (Accounts Payable) processes?’, ’10 Reasons you need to Automate P2P’.

Heck, I’ve written countless articles on the subject throughout my career, hopefully, you’ve seen one! (Or at the very least seen one of my dribbly LinkedIn posts?)

Automation doesn’t just work for you. It works for your boss, business partners, suppliers, procurement, finance, remote teams, anyone who buys things, and the list goes on.

Without a lengthy email chain (or various email chains on the same topic) you can get real-time updates on purchase requests and invoices. Have they been paid? Have they even been seen?

Without this (effortless) dialogue, it’s obvious how late payments, duplicate transactions or even fraud happens. Hence why I think automation is the key to remote working, especially in P2P.

Your P2P process affects everyone in your business that buys, approves, and pays for things. Now imagine all those people in one room asking each other “have you approved my PO request for a new keyboard?”, “have you paid the milkman this week?”, “when are we getting our updated laptops?”.

With a fully automated P2P function in place, this room would be empty; just a bunch of people in their dressing gowns clicking through one, easy to use piece of software to spoon-feed their entire procure-to-pay process.

Communication is only one of the many reasons why P2P automation will help you and your business. Check out some of our other blog posts for more unarguable reasons.

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Rory Coleman-Smith

Rory uses technology to automate process around his home, from lights, the chicken coop door, and even alerts for when the oil tank is low (he lives in the sticks!). This automation allows him to spend time on what really matters, which for Rory, is his wife, dog, & chickens.