"You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." - Yogi Berra
By this point, we can safely say that most people understand that automating their financial processes is the way to go. It would be pretty hard to construct an argument that manual processing beats automation. However, while we find most people want to automate, many of them struggle with knowing how best to proceed. We believe the advice of that famous baseball player, Yogi Berra, can serve as inspiration for how you should respond in such a situation, namely “know where you are going.” Our approach to accounts payable automation has proven successful for many organizations looking to simplify their method and better understand how they should tackle this important task.
Before you can know where you are going, you first have to determine where you are currently in your AP process. A good way to begin is by answering the following questions:
- What problems are you experiencing with your current process?
- What problems are experienced by your external and internal customers?
- What are the areas nearly everyone agrees need fixing?
By identifying where you are currently and gaining agreement about what needs to be fixed, it will help you build momentum towards your automation solution.
DataServ works with companies every day discussing these issues. As a result of these conversations, we have developed a useful infographic that you can use to help pinpoint exactly where your pain points are. Below is the infographic, along with the most common points of pain we hear.
The most typical pain points we find for companies around AP automation are:
1. Invoices received across the company, by anyone, at any time – As the graphic illustrates, in many companies invoices are received in many different forms (EDI, fax, email, mail, etc.) and go to multiple people across the organization. This makes it difficult to track, much less manage, your payments process.
2. Lack of a clear approval process – In many organizations, “tribal knowledge” is prevalent. That means that knowledge of the company’s invoice approval process sits in the heads of the AP processors, and while that may be acceptable for a while, it becomes a problem when employees leave or are promoted, and it also makes it difficult to audit and ensure proper control.
3. Limited or inadequate approval workflow automation – This includes companies using a cumbersome amount of Excel spreadsheets to identify and track invoices or processing invoices through their ERP, which often isn’t tailored to their unique business process and general ledger accounts. Additionally, those companies thinking about relying on their ERP for workflow automation sometimes find this solution to be less than optimal. The main drawback to using ERP’s for AP automation is that many ERPs have constructed their process flow and logic upon an assumption of human data entry and manual interventions. Using more “tailorable” automation solutions eliminates this risk.
Use this infographic to identify and summarize the issues most important to you and your organization. This provides the foundation for building agreement around common goals for your automation project. Here is the good news: Regardless of your pain points and issues, chances are those problems have already been solved by vendors that have great depth and experience in financial process automation.
If you have a troubling issue you want to solve, contact us at info@DataServ.com and let’s see if we can help.