We had an interesting conversation recently with a company looking for an accounts payable automation solution. We actually know this company very well, as we had proposed an expense reporting solution to them two years ago. We did not win that business, as they selected a larger competitor, but we naturally wanted to find out how that start-up had gone. We believe what our contact at this company told us would be of benefit to anyone looking to automate their financial processes. Her biggest surprise after they selected the competitor’s product was how much effort she personally had to put forth, not only with the rollout but also with ongoing support calls. She specifically mentioned the rollout had caused her “more work than I had before, not less!” Many times we find that the accounting or finance people are frustrated (and surprised) after their purchase decision, whether it’s Software as a Service (SaaS) or traditional software, because they didn’t understand going in the true cost and effort associated with installing and operating the new software. After talking to several clients, we found these are the three main areas of surprise:

  1. You become the trainer – Many solutions don’t provide adequate training for the end user. Instead, they offer a generic do-it-yourself approach by sending you, for example, to a YouTube video that provides “training” on how to use your new software. If you’re lucky, you may be offered a PowerPoint presentation as well. Successful training depends on information that is relevant to your business and situation. Unfortunately, this tailoring is left up to you. Obviously, this is not an optimal way to provide training. You want to choose a solution from a vendor that will provide comprehensive initial and ongoing user training that is specific to your situation, not some generalized materials that generate more questions from your users than they answer. 
  2. You become the system administrator – Most solution products require you to provide them with a list of names and user IDs that are approved for use in their system. We find that our clients are surprised to learn that the accounting group becomes responsible for finding and maintaining all of these names and user IDs. Since you implemented the solution to reduce rather than increase your workload, this isn’t acceptable.   
  3. You become the de-facto help desk – Who do your users call if they have questions? Many vendors leave the first-tier support for taking questions with you, or they will sell you a support package for extra cost! You shouldn’t have to answer questions – the vendor should – so do your best to find one that offers a complete client support solution.

When searching for a process automation solution, whether it be purchase to pay or quote to cash, examine all these potential pain points before you make a decision. If the vendor you are considering is going to end up causing more work to be done in your invoice processing department, then keep searching.  

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