AP automation can offer a whole host of benefits for your business, from time and cost savings through to increased accuracy and business transparency.
However, as with any new process or system, AP automation can pose challenges. Following best practices and planning the implementation well can help avoid and overcome these potential issues.
Here’s a guide to the benefits, challenges, and best practices for AP automation.
Helping businesses to overcome the challenges of manual AP processes, AP automation offers a whole host of benefits, including:
- Faster invoice processing and approval times
- Lower invoice and payment processing costs
- Improved accuracy without the risk of human error
- Real-time monitoring and enhanced control
- Increased financial transparency and 100% spend visibility
- Improved supplier relationships
- Savings with early payment discounts
- Compliance with global regulations
Challenges with implementing AP Automation
While AP automation offers numerous benefits and helps resolve many of the issues resulting from manual processing, implementing AP automation can pose its own set of challenges.
Depending on the AP system you choose, your suppliers may need to make changes to the format of their invoices, or the way they issue them. This can lead to resistance.
However, there are solutions available with 100% supplier connectivity so that suppliers won’t need to change the way they operate. Further, most AP Automation solution providers offer support for supplier enablement, which can range from out-of-the-box campaign materials to comprehensive supplier onboarding programs.
Change Management for Employees
Convincing senior management to sign-off on an AP automation process is one of the first key steps. However, when it comes to the implementation of the system, the buy-in of employees that will actually use the system is just as critical.
Transitioning into new ways of working can be stressful, and fear of change can have a negative impact on the adoption and implementation of the new AP solution.
Some frontline staff may be concerned that automation will make their jobs redundant, while others may view the new processes as complex and unnecessary. Successfully managing change amongst your employees is crucial for effective AP implementation.
Integration with ERP and Other Legacy Systems
Another potential challenge to the successful implementation of an automated AP system is the feasibility of integration with ERP and other legacy systems.
Ensure your chosen provider has the ability to seamlessly integrate with any existing systems.
AP Automation best practises
Get Employee Buy-in
Make change management a key part of your overall automation strategy and ensure that the employees that will be using the system most are kept in the loop from the beginning.
Don’t Forget Supplier Adoption
Just as it is important to get buy-in from employees, it is critical to keep suppliers in mind when selecting an AP Automation solution. Not all suppliers are the same, so when choosing a solution ensure that it can address the needs of your diverse supplier base.
Outline Workflow Rules
If multiple employees will be working on AP processes and workflows, ensure that there is a clear set of workflow rules in place outlining issues such as approval deadlines, handling exceptions, etc.
Keep Vendor Information up to Date
Keeping vendor information up to date is essential for seamless, error-free payments. It will also help to protect your business from potential fraud.
Monitor your Metrics
Tracking your AP metrics, such as invoices received in different formats, average cost per invoice, and invoice cycle time, will allow you to see which processes are working and which ones have room for improvement.
Have a Backup
When running manual AP processes, it’s important to have a backup to ensure essential data is protected. However, with modern cloud-based AP solutions, everything is secure and backed up automatically.
Automating the AP process can present challenges, given that it affects a number of employees across the organisation as well as suppliers. However, by implementing AP automation best practices from the start, it is possible to overcome these challenges and achieve the most effective and efficient automated system.