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AP Automation Adoption and Implementation

Accounts payable (AP) automation can offer a whole host of benefits for your business, helping your business  save time and money, reduce errors, and minimise risk. In fact, according to IOFM’s three-year study of almost 400 payables departments, highly automated AP departments process twice as many invoices per person at one-third of the cost of their manual counterparts.

However, the AP automation adoption and implementation process can seem daunting. From stakeholder push back to implementation complexity, there are a number of potential issues to consider.

AP Automation Process Flow

Before we look at the adoption and implementation of AP automation, it’s important to understand what the AP automation process flow looks like. This will help you identify the key elements involved in the implementation and help you develop an effective plan.

ap-automation process

AP Automation Project Planning

To ensure your AP automation implementation is successful, it’s important to put together a comprehensive plan, as well as a realistic timeline.

Your plan should include the following steps:

1. Review your Existing AP Processes

Review which areas of the business will be impacted by the automation of your accounts payable processes. Identify which workflows will need to be updated, as well as any potential obstacles. Remember, automation won’t fix broken processes so it’s important to resolve any issues before implementing the new system.

Build a business case for AP automation

Once you’ve identified how AP automation will impact different areas of your business, you’ll need to start putting together a business case demonstrating why this transformation is needed and the benefits it could provide.

 2. Secure Stakeholder Buy-in

Stakeholder buy-in is crucial for the successful implementation of an automated AP solution. As well as getting senior management on board, it’s also vital to get the buy-in of stakeholders across the organisation.

Ensure that all stakeholders understand the reasoning behind the new system, how it will support their area of the business, and the plan for implementation.

Setting up a steering committee to help plan the implementation, including representatives from the departments that will be impacted such as the IT, finance, and procurement departments,  will help secure their support for the project.

 3. Identify your Requirements

To help identify your requirements when it comes to automating your AP processes, ask yourself questions such “what will my organisation need from the new system?” and “which of our current processes, tasks, and functions should we automate?”

You should also consider factors such as compliance and reporting requirements.

4. Choose an AP Automation Provider

Once you have a clear idea of what you need from your AP automation solution, you can start vetting providers. The best way to do this is to produce a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) document outlining the scope of the project and your specific requirements. This can be sent to your shortlist of providers. You’ll then be able to use their responses to select the most appropriate provider. Remember to ask potential suppliers as many questions as you need - you might also want to ask for references and case studies.

As well as considering your immediate project needs, look further ahead and make sure you partner with a provider that can grow and expand with your business in the future. And remember to take into account additional factors such as the vendor’s reputation, experience and responsiveness.

5. Agree a Scope of Work

Once you’ve identified your needs and chosen your provider, you’ll need to negotiate terms and agree on a scope of work. This will allow both parties to set their expectations and understand exactly what needs to be delivered.

6. Create an Implementation Plan

The next step is to develop an implementation plan. This should cover all the tasks that need to be completed, as well as the timeline for completion.

Your implementation plan should also include a realistic timeline, taking into account any existing projects and deadlines. Having a realistic timeline from the beginning will ensure the project stays on track and isn’t negatively impacted by a lack of resources. 

7. Training and Testing

Finally, you’ll need to test the implemented solution to ensure that it works and also meets the requirements outlined in the scope of work. Alongside testing, you’ll also need to keep track of your metrics to measure the impact that the automation is having.

When you’re happy with the system and how it has been implemented, your staff can then be trained on how to use it. All staff should be trained on the new solution, focusing on short, module-based training sessions and interactive, gamified training options to keep staff engaged.

AP Automation Implementation FAQs

How long does it take to implement an AP automation solution?

The amount of time it takes to implement an AP automation solution will depend upon a number of factors, such as the business processes that are being automated, the number of systems that will be integrated etc. Setting a timeline for implementation will help you establish a timeframe and stay on track.

Are there any challenges to expect when switching to automated AP?

When switching to AP automation, you may encounter some challenges, like stakeholder pushback or integration issues. However, with careful planning, it’s possible to navigate these challenges and deliver successful implementation. Head over to our full guide to AP automation challenges to find out more. 

What size of business benefits from AP automation?

AP automation can be beneficial to businesses of all sizes. However, the larger the business and the more invoices that are received on a monthly basis, the higher the savings are likely to be, in terms of both time and money.

Do you need to keep paper copies of invoices with an AP automation solution?

Any electronic invoices you receive will be automatically be stored, handled, and backed up digitally. However, if you receive a paper invoice, you will need to archive and store in line with local regulations.

Do you need an AP automation backup solution?

With an AP automation solution, your files will be automatically backed up to the cloud to avoid loss or corruption in the unlikely event of an issue with the software.

Summary

Effective planning is essential for successful AP automation adoption and implementation. From the very first stages of the project, it’s important to put together a comprehensive plan as well as a realistic timeline. This will ensure that you are able to communicate the aims and benefits of the automation to secure stakeholder buy in, set a realistic plan for implementation, and ensure that the process stays on track.

Explore our other AP Automation guides: 

To find out more about AP Automation adoption and implementation, please get in touch.