SUBMITTED BY Drew Gillow

This is for all you IT leaders out there who do not want to add one more tool or system to your IT portfolio that you must manage. We have heard from people in your position for many years and we understand the time and effort involved in implementing, supporting, and updating/upgrading the technology used by the entire company. All the departments in your organization, from AP to Sales, want the latest and greatest tools to make their jobs easier—but at what cost and how many hours of IT support? We understand your hesitation, and we can agree streamlining is a fantastic objective. What if we told you, you could automate Accounts Payable without adding a bunch of upgrades and upkeep to your IT team’s plate and make your AP team happy?

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We want to address three primary questions you may have about AP automation options: Why not just use the general system we have in place? Is RPA a good solution for AP? Why is a SaaS AP automation solution the best choice for IT?


Why not just use the general system we have in place?

So, your company already works with a big software provider who claims to have a full menu of offerings for every department. And while that software provider may offer services to all of your departments, we bet if you polled the staff in those departments, they would tell you that software doesn’t meet their needs. The big software providers are not built to offer specialty tools that optimize specific departmental workflows—AP included. These companies offer the bare minimum in terms of what your AP department needs to function within their software platform, and that just means more work will have to be done outside of the software platform. If the Accounts Payable team is putting in extra hours and more effort manually processing invoices, tracking exceptions and manually handling approvals, one thing is absolutely certain: your company is losing money in employee time, missed payment deadlines, and missed payment term discounts.

While we understand that you have already invested time and resources in the big software company’s offerings, if your AP team came to you with a software tool that did not take much time, money, or resources from your IT staff, wouldn’t that be the optimal solution? So now you may be open to using an AP automation tool to save your company time and money, but how do you know which is the best for AP? You may have heard some organizational leaders pushing the latest and greatest tech trends to solve all the company’s problems, but we are here to tell you that not all software solutions are created equal when it comes to Accounts Payable. Let’s dispense of one false notion first: that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a good fit for Accounts Payable.


Is RPA a good solution for AP?

The short answer is no, but here is why. RPA has value in repeating high-volume tasks that are manual, where the user interface is unlikely to change, and exceptions do not exist or are infrequent. Since RPA is software running software, it is best suited for tasks that will not change or do not require learning and updating.

In other words, RPA is a short-term solution for simple tasks. It can’t handle different scenarios with a wide range of options. RPA is also an internal fix, making your IT team responsible for the maintenance and updates necessary to keep it running.

RPA has issues whenever the user interface changes or an exception arises (which happens a lot in AP). We know of a company that uses RPA to login into vendor websites and download invoice images. They have over 50 RPA developers maintaining those scripts because the websites are changing, they have popups appearing, and all of those changes and popups interfere with their scripts. The cost of maintaining the scripts for a few very simple tasks is unacceptable. So, while RPA is not the right solution for either your AP staff or your IT staff, SaaS solutions can benefit both parties.


Why is a SaaS AP automation solution the best choice for IT?

SaaS has been around for a while, and it may not be the buzzword or have the clout of “RPA” or “AI,” but when it comes to providing AP with the solutions it needs without burdening IT staff, SaaS is the optimal tool.  If you don’t want the burden of installing or integrating hardware or software or managing system maintenance, then SaaS is the answer for you, especially if your company has a small IT staff or is interested in lowering operational costs. It takes significantly less time for a SaaS solution to get up and running than it does for an internal IT staff to install, configure and initialize an on-premises solution. The subscription-based model SaaS vendors typically employ requires a significantly smaller initial investment and while it does contain ongoing monthly fees, they are frequently scalable based on usage, so you only pay for how much you use the system once the initialization has taken place.

SaaS vendors provide services in addition to their software, and cloud-based infrastructure enables simpler integration with other enterprise software like ERP systems. Some SaaS vendors handle the initialization and offer real-time support and automatic upgrades, so it is significantly less taxing on an IT department.

Questions on the benefits of SaaS AP automation solutions? Send them to info@DataServ.com, and we will be happy to provide our expertise.
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