The business case for accounts payable automation

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The way we talk about software automation has dramatically changed in the last decade. If we were once scared of the implications of Artificial Intelligence in our lives, this is now at the core of many of the services that we use on a daily basis in our professions or at home.

From our "OOO" automatic replies to the way we manage our finances, we are all at ease with software that relies on simpler automation algorithms, allowing us to focus on tasks requiring our attention, setting us free from the burden of the more trivial operations.

Yet, when it comes to managing accounts payable (AP) processes, 70 percent of businesses still rely on paper for more than half of their documents.

Many finance professionals approach us to help them speed up some of their internal paperwork, or simply empower them with a scalable solution to gain some time to focus on other aspects of the business. While the specific pain points of each organisation may differ, most finance professionals call for help to make a business case for internal review.

Internal buy-in
Automating accounts payable management will affect professionals across all departments dealing directly or indirectly with purchasing procedures, so it's plausible that not everyone will be enthusiastic about this change. Getting the relevant parties not only to approve the costs of the operation, but also to look forward to the change offered by AP automation, is the first step to get everyone in the organisation to embrace the new practices.

The risks involved might raise a few eyebrows, as technology, resources, user adoption and, most importantly, supplier enablement, will all require careful consideration for the transition to go smoothly. Our implementation team is used to working closely with all the relevant stakeholders to analyse the business ecosystem beforehand, and minimise the impact of these risks.

For example, the accounting team will have a clear understanding of which tools are currently used by the company to keep track of the company finances, and how they are used. This information will be crucial in making sure the new software will be able to communicate smoothly with the ERP solutions already in place.

Organisational fit

The implementation team will make sure the transition will be happening as smoothly as possible, but will it be worth the investment?

In order to prove the ROI of the operation, all boils down to establishing the current cost of processing an invoice. To understand this, we simply determine how much time each professional will spend, on average, processing an invoice, and then we compare it with how much shorter, hence how much cheaper, will be processing each invoice through an automated workflow. The operation is usually useful also to remember how precious everyone's time is, and how critical is to invest it in decisions that require the expertise of finance, budget holder, and accounting professionals.

The benefits no one knows about yet
Organisations that have never relied on real-time financial data, will be surprised to discover how much can be saved automating AP processes. Early-bird discounts are no longer out of reach, as the time spent on every invoice, can be reduced from up to 20 days, to just under 10 minutes, or a single business day in a typical scenario. More savings can be achieved by removing paper from the process, causing the accidental loss of documents, or avoiding manual entry of data, which can be worse than misplacing an invoice as human-related errors in the data can lead to wrong financial decisions.

The journey
The realisation that your invoice management workflow could be more efficient is only the first step. Getting the relevant stakeholders interested in AP automation, and justifying the investment, the change and the process for the whole organisation, is the second part that might be too big to deal with at once. Start with breaking down the costs of the current process, highlighting the benefits for each of the departments involved in the accounts payable process, and suggest how key areas of the business could benefit when the human resources and the saved budget could be reallocated to their benefit.

Our team of specialists are happy to go through your business' specific requirements and help you make the business case tailored to your needs. Discover how Compleat can guide you through from the definition of your requirements, to going live and how we will support you after with our brochure "The Compleat Journey ".

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