While AP automation has no shortage of benefits, its results can be severely hindered by mistakes in the planning, implementation, and post-implementation phases. By understanding these pitfalls and taking proactive measures to avoid them, however, you can ensure a smooth transition and maximize your results.
Let’s explore six of the most common AP automation project-busting mistakes companies make and how you can avoid them.
6 Common AP Automation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
The 6 Most Common Accounts Payable Automation Problems
1. Failing to Plan Sufficiently for a Smooth Supplier Transition
If your suppliers have to jump through hoops to cooperate with your new AP automation solution, your user adoption rate will be low. This is typically the result of overcomplicated onboarding, unintuitive interfaces, and too much change at once. Sometimes, the supplier may not even have technology that’s compatible with your new AP automation solution.
How to avoid it: Make the transition to AP automation as easy as possible for your suppliers. Before settling on a solution, make sure it’s user-friendly, and that you can provide the level of training and post-implementation support it’ll require. And don’t forget to confirm with your suppliers that it’ll be compatible with their tech stack.
If possible, try to minimize the amount of change that’s visible on their end. For example, if your current AP process rules that suppliers must send invoices by email, you could get an AP automation solution that automatically processes invoices received via email. This way, you enjoy the increased accuracy and time savings automation provides, but the supplier doesn’t experience any change.
2. Failing to Get the Right People Involved from the Start
Another surefire way to sink your AP automation project is to fail to include all relevant parties from the outset. Often, this surfaces as the organization only involving the IT department towards the end of the project. This leads to frustration and delays since overloading IT with last-minute requests limits their ability to address critical issues and provide valuable input. By leaving important parties in the dark, IT or otherwise, you lose out on valuable perspectives that are instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition to your new solution. Even worse, it’ll mean you’re neglecting to manage the impact of the technology on staff, which can spark the loss of goodwill and trust with senior management, low morale, implementation delays, poor ROI, and potential repercussions from internal stakeholders and suppliers.
How to avoid it: From the start of your project, involve all affected parties. This could include departments like:
- Accounts Payable
- Purchasing and Procurement
Once you’ve assembled your team, you must convince them of the project’s value and gain their buy-in through effective change management. Additionally, tapping into your team’s expertise by asking for feedback regularly will give you massive benefits. For one, your AP team’s close proximity to the current AP process equips them with invaluable insights. IT will also be able to identify IT-related concerns you otherwise would’ve missed. Plus, they can address any integration issues with your existing ERP system. Your contacts in other departments will be able to offer their unique perspectives as well.
3. Skipping the Must-Have Solution Traits Wishlist
Before you start solution browsing, you need to know and prioritize the traits you need in an AP automation solution. If you skip this step, you’ll be at a high risk of choosing a solution that doesn’t solve your biggest issues, which will lead to a host of problems.
How to avoid it: Make a list of at least five non-negotiable features your solution will need to complement your organization and its AP process. Additionally, check for ERP software limits, the technical compatibility of the solution, and integration requirements. And during the software vendor demonstration, confirm that the solution can seamlessly transfer data from your accounting and ERP systems. This will prevent you from dealing with countless problems down the road.
4. Failing to Factor in Company Growth
It’s easy to focus on what an AP automation solution can do for you now without putting much thought into whether it’ll be a good fit in five to ten years. But this puts you at risk of purchasing a solution that can’t grow with you or even partnering with a vendor whose future product roadmaps don’t align with your future needs.
How to avoid it: Ask your prospective vendor what their product roadmap plans are, timelines and all. They should also be able to provide examples of their current customers whose solutions have successfully grown alongside them.
5. Insufficient Implementation Planning
There’s no doubt that the solution you choose is critical to your project’s success, but your implementation planning might be even more important. Things can get complex, from intricate workflows and coordinating integrations to communicating with various stakeholders and suppliers. Still, organizations often under plan, most often by automating their current AP processes without taking the time to optimize them first.
How to avoid it: Choose technology solution providers with a professional services team that specializes in process improvement. They’ll work with you to understand your desired end-state and help you optimize your current processes to support those goals. They can also provide valuable best practices for continued improvement.
6. Choosing the Wrong Solution
No one wants to choose the wrong solution, but with all the many options out there, it happens. Unfortunately, this results in damaged stakeholder relations, poor ROI, wasted time, and processes being digitized in the wrong sequence. You’ll also end up wasting even more time correcting poor automation.
How to avoid it: In addition to referencing your must-have solution traits wish list, check out the tips below.
8 Must-Have Qualities to Look for in an AP Automation Solution
1. Easy and Convenient Invoice Approvals
2. The Ability to Track AP Invoices Through the Entire Process
3. The Ability to Automate All Aspects of the Invoice-to-Pay Process
4. User-Friendly Interface
5. Solid Integrations with Your Accounting Systems
6. Accurate Invoice Data Capture
7. Autonomous Capabilities
8. The Right Partner
What to Look for in an AP Automation Solution
Get the full scoop on the top 8 qualities your AP automation solution needs to help you achieve your best results possible.
AP automation will work wonders for your AP department and the broader organization, and the more common mistakes you can avoid, the further your success will go. We’d love to be your digital transformation guide and help you build a solution customized to your organization’s needs and goals. If you want to learn more, drop a question or comment in the chat below.
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