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Here’s part two of our series, tackling misconceptions around AP automation. Last week, we covered off: “it’s too expensive”, “our business is too complex”, and “deployment is too time consuming”. Here are three other common objections that hold companies back, and our response to them:

1.   “It’s too risky”

Automating accounts payable can be a daunting prospect for some companies if they have complex business requirements or little knowledge and control over how their accounts payable functions. However, it’s a mistake for these firms to delay automation because these are the businesses that benefit most from addressing process inefficiencies.

While there may be fair concerns about implementing an ineffective solution or disrupting business as usual as the enterprise software is rolled out, these risks can be mitigated by engaging an experienced AP automation software vendor who has previously worked with firms with similar requirements and system integration needs.

Your AP automation provider should work with you to document the scope and requirements for your implementation, advising you on best practice workflows and technologies. This specification will be the blueprint for software proposals and solution designs and will ensure your deployment is fit for purpose. (Note: EL offers scope and requirements documentation as a discrete service with no obligation to deploy RapidAP.)

For most companies, the greater risk is maintaining inefficient, ineffective manual processes rather than automating accounts payable. These firms may get left behind as their more progressive counterparts enjoy lower costs, improved financial control, and better risk management.

2.   “We’d lose control over our accounts payable process

The idea that robots would run the accounts payable process and staff would have no control over it is simply a fallacy. In fact, the opposite is true: automation empowers management with proper oversight of the accounts payable function.

With manual processes, there is little control over accounts payable; invoices are frequently misplaced, and payments are made late. An AP automation solution brings accuracy and rigour to invoice processing, capturing payables data digitally and channelling it through a single processing workflow.

The solution runs mandatory compliance checks to ensure that each invoice is from a legitimate business and is not a duplicate, helping to safeguard against fraud. It also logs a history of every interaction with a payable, whether human or machine. Therefore, all invoices are searchable (according to user permissions), and data can be readily retrieved, bringing transparency to accounts payable.

As a result, finance teams have greater control over when payments are made. With the solution processing payables quickly and efficiently, early-bird discounts can be accessed, and payments timed to help optimise a company’s working capital.

3.   “Our staff don’t want it”

While some may have concerns about robots taking their jobs, the reality is that manual processes hold staff back in terms of career development. When software can administer routine work, the load for accounts payable lightens, creating capacity for staff to upskill and take on higher value and more rewarding work.

As a result, automation is usually beneficial for staff wellbeing. Certainly, it’s extremely demoralising and stressful for employees to work with poor systems and processes and deal with dissatisfied suppliers daily. Automation ensures accounts payable runs smoothly; therefore, user adoption tends to be very quick with productivity and employee engagement lifting immediately.

With digital technologies now playing a central role in day-to-day life, manual processes are fast becoming unwanted and unsustainable. A recent survey found that over 32% of workers would eliminate repetitive tasks if they could, and over 70% would like data entry automated. Further, 83% of office-based employees want a hybrid work model going forward, with the option of working from home for at least some of the week. AP automation facilitates this, allowing employees to access their accounts payable tasks via the web.

Conclusion

Any risk inherent in automating business processes can be mitigated by working with an experienced AP automation software vendor. Automation gives accounts payable departments more control over payments than manual processes allow. And finally, while there is often resistance to change, automating accounts payable may be inevitable for many companies and a ‘good thing’ for most employees.

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