You already know you need to automate your accounts payable process. Paper invoices, approval and payment delays, and a lack of visibility just aren’t working for your organization anymore. You’re making it a priority to identify a solution that will relieve your AP headaches.
Maybe you’ve already begun to research solutions. But to effectively evaluate AP automation providers, you need to have a deep understanding of your requirements. Having the right information will help you choose the right AP solution for your organization’s specific needs.
If this sounds like you, we’ve got a few tips on how to best prepare for your AP automation project.
1. Define Your Current Process
You already have an established process for invoice intake, approval routing, and payment processing. The best automation tools will let you preserve these required workflows, taking your existing steps and recreating them in a streamlined system. At the same time, outdated or redundant steps may be improved or discarded entirely.
To understand how AP solutions can help, you should map out your entire AP workflow as it exists today. A simple AP process chart or workflow map (with all available branching possibilities) will help during the evaluation process and will also help during implementation once you choose a solution.
To find solutions that are the right fit, you should also define (on average) how many invoices and payments you process in a month, the types of payments you require, and how that information is currently handled in your accounting system.
2. Assess Your Current Weaknesses
If you’re seeking out a solution, you’re likely aware there are weaknesses in your current AP process. But you should make sure you have a clear understanding of your challenges at every step, not just the part of the process you encounter every day. Examine your organization’s AP from end-to-end to identify every issue – then, you’ll be able to more accurately determine if the solutions you’re evaluating can help address these issues.
3. Identify the Systems Your AP Solution Must Play Nice With
An AP solution that exists in a vacuum won’t work for any organization that uses accounting software or other ERP systems. AP automation tools need to work with the other software at your disposal. Most of the time, integrations are very simple, simply allowing for easy transfer of data to and from accounting systems. But this transfer should be very easy for the user to accomplish. If too much data manipulation or formatting is required, it starts to defeat the purpose of automation.
4. Get Your Staff on Board
Your staff and vendors will be affected by a change in AP. There is usually some grumbling during times of change, but the aim of automation is to make things easier for everyone. Bring in key stakeholders to the AP evaluation process. Get their input. By listening to their concerns or suggestions, you’re involving them in the future direction of the organization. While all staff members may not get to make a final decision, they will be the first to identify potential challenges or bring up key considerations that you may not have considered.