Accounts Payable departments are busier than ever, and for those still tied to tedious, time-consuming, manual processes, it’s beyond stressful. It’s no wonder why AP automation continues to be a popular initiative for organizations pursuing digital transformation journeys. With benefits from increased accuracy and efficiency to time savings and fewer errors and strained vendor relationships, there are many perks to enjoy. Still, before you can skip to the good part with AP automation, you need to get buy-in from inside the AP department and beyond. And too often, that’s the biggest obstacle.
But with the right talking points, statistics, and a deep understanding of what makes your key stakeholders tick, getting buy-in doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Let’s explore the 3 key steps that will help you get your audience excited about this transformative new technology.
3 Steps to Get Buy-In for AP Automation
1. Pinpoint Your Key Stakeholders
To make sure you have all your bases covered, compile a list of the people who will be involved in your AP automation project. This list should include all parties, whether they would be facilitating the implementation process, the approval process, or involved with funding.
Key figures often include:
- AP staff
- IT department
When your list is settled, begin considering how you might approach each player most effectively. For some, a company memo may suffice, but for others, and in-person meeting or individual message may be more suitable.
2. Identify Your Key Stakeholders’ Currencies
Now that you know your AP Automation audiences, you can determine how to speak to their concerns, values, and desires to get their buy-in. In other words, identify each key stakeholder’s “currency,” or the benefits of AP automation that will appeal most to them. AP automation’s benefits can potentially affect areas of your organizations outside of just the AP department and may even directly benefit stakeholders. By having a clear idea of how AP automation will make their lives easier, your key players are likely to show greater interest in the project.
Understanding each stakeholder’s currency will help you craft your most effective, personalized pitches. For determining currency, consider not only which benefits will affect them most directly, but also any possible fears or reservations they may have.
Here are some talking points to help you get started:
This portion of your audience will be most directly affected by AP automation, but that doesn’t mean every benefit will speak to them as strongly. When determining their currency, think of how AP automation will impact their daily workloads.
- Increases process accuracy by 99.5%, reducing the need to spend time fixing errors and double entries
- Saves time by reducing the need to track down approvals and address the status of vendor invoices
- Reduces the need for manual data entry, physical document management, printing checks, and looking up TINs individually
- Is the system easily compatible with our current invoice approval processes?
- Will the system connect to the current accounting system, or will I need to double my work?
Since management is responsible for approving invoices in the AP automation process, they hold far greater weight in buy-in and providing funding for your project. To win them over, focus on the solution’s ability to deliver efficiency and a streamlined user experience for them and the entire AP department.
- Features an intuitive, frictionless user experience for every user
- Offers better visibility into invoice status, which can assist with control reports
- Provides the option of automatic alerts for supplier disputes and other issues, allowing for faster resolution that can strengthen vendor relationships
- Comes with capabilities like interactive reporting dashboards and customizable workflow rules, allowing managers to approve payments in batches
- Does AP automation come with high implementation expenses?
- Will we face low or strained user adoption after implementation?
Since controllers oversee the AP department’s operations, they are especially mindful of automation. They are very aware of the details of their operations and work closely with the reporting process. Getting their stamp of approval requires helping them understand the technology’s impact on the entire operation end-to-end.
- Greater productivity and accuracy
- Better, accelerated reporting cycles for the CFO
- Frees up time for controllers with personalized business rules that automate the routing, matching, and circulation of invoices
- Will we face significant service interruption?
- Will the system integrate with other tools easily?
To determine your CFO’s currency, you must look beyond daily operations. Address the long-term benefits of having full visibility into your company’s financial well-being.
- Increases fraud protection by closely monitoring employee access and providing workflow capabilities that can rule which users must approve an invoice before processing
- Expanded reporting ability for cash flow analysis and liquidity management
- Offers full visibility into the cash flow in real time, allowing for better decision making
- Does the system support growth and scalability?
- How much more expensive is it than our current operations?
For many organizations, the IT department not only has the deciding factor regarding AP automation projects, but implementation success is heavily dependent on them. As a result, gaining IT as an ally via buy-in can be a huge advantage for your AP automation project.
- Unlocks time by reducing the volume of support tickets that come with keeping a legacy system up and running
- Lightens IT workload by enabling the AP department to make real-time changes to approval processes and other minor changes
- Updates tend to be less tedious and manual
- How strong is this system’s security and compliance?
- Will this system be easy for end-users to use, or will I have to take time out of my day to assist?
- Will I have to build specialized integrations for each system we have?
What is the Impact of Automating Your Accounts Payable Processes?
Want tips on how you can counter these fears and bolster these benefits? Check out this blog for more details on AP automation’s strengths like scalability, savings, productivity, security, and more.
3. Come Prepared with In-Depth Knowledge on the Heavy Hitters
To really wow your audience when it’s pitch time, anticipate the overarching questions that are bound to be on their minds. If you can address them in detail before any stakeholder raises the question, even better. Here are examples of subjects that are worth studying up on to really drive your point home:
- Implementation timeline and budget plans – The details of your prospective implementation timeline and budget will vary based on your organization, the solution, and provider you choose.
- Fraud protection – AP automation increases your chances of catching potentially fraudulent invoices before it’s too late and can protect against missing or incorrect data to further boost your accuracy.
- Cost reductions – AP automation is well known for its ability to cut costs – the technology has been known to decrease invoice processing costs to $2 per invoice, in contrast to $8-10 with manual processes.
- Expected ROI – Many organizations who implement AP automation solutions see results early on. In our experience working with finance departments, we’ve seen 300% increases in productivity per employee.
By addressing these topics head on, you can demonstrate to these stakeholders that you value their time, are prepared, and understand the bigger picture.
With the proper preparation and communication, you can get your stakeholders excited about the potential of AP automation.
Clay Lacy Aviation’s OnBase & ABBYY FlexiCapture Success Story
Want to know more about how Clay Lacy Aviation boosted its efficiency in its AP department and beyond using these two solutions? Get the full story in our new case study.
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