It’s true what they say about getting started early – it IS better if you can start early. We see a lot of organizations talking about starting their AP Automation project during Q1. Honestly, not all of them succeed at starting in this window – and that’s OK. The start of the fiscal year can feel very final, and it may seem impossible to make any process changes, especially financial processes. However, choosing to stick with the status quo simply because it feels as though it isn’t the “right time” can mean you miss out on an impactful opportunity.
AP automation is considered a top digitization priority, but adopting the new process is still met with resistance, much of which is due to the fact that many believe current processes are adequate as-is and choose to stick with the status quo. In fact, according to a recent survey, “Forty-two percent of finance leaders surveyed believe that their current practices are working, ranking much higher than other obstacles, such as the scarcity of technical resources and ERP integration issues (20%), budgetary limitations (16%), lack of a clear business case and ROI (12%), and the absence of executive sponsorship (9%).”
For accounts payable, automation can make a positive impact to processes, and a majority of companies are taking notice. In 2022 alone, 63 percent of companies made the decision to automate at least some aspects of their AP processes, almost double the percentage of companies (32 percent) that did so in the year prior.
Even if you missed out on automating by Q1, there’s no need to hold off. We’ll cover why – and how – you can automate your AP processes any time of the year.
Why Companies Typically Don’t Want To Automate Mid-Year
In our experience helping companies automate their AP processes, we’ve found several common reasonscompanies forgo moving forward with process changes once they’ve passed Q1.
- Fear of Disruption:Change is great, but anyone who has experienced a process change knows that it doesn’t happen overnight. Employees are familiar with current processes and taking time out for training and getting into new habits can end up causing delays for clients, customers, and colleagues. Some may have fears of being replaced by an automated process, as well.
- Lack of Time: Similarly to fearing disruption, lacking time to dedicate to automation can turn companies off to the idea. Determining where automation will benefit your company most is a big task, requiring analysis, training and onboarding, and more. It’s a lot to ask of employees that already have a full-time job! Thankfully, it does not have to take all year.
- Budget Constraints: Budgets today are often more flexible due to the uncertainty of the economy, but people still tend to assume it is an annual exercise and think: “…If I did not use my budget in Q1 then I will not have time to use that budget this calendar year, so I guess we have to wait until next year…”
- Perception of Complexity: All of the options just sound complicated. You have ERP solutions, third-party solutions that integrate with your ERP, vendor portals, workflow, electronic data interchange (EDI), optical character recognition (OCR), Software as a Service (SaaS), supplier network, and more. Each works differently and many believe that in order to get the most benefit, you have to have some technological know-how.
Get to Results Quicker with QuickStartDespite these fears and reservations, there is a unique alternative: DataServ pioneered SaaS AP Automation with our Evolutionary approach called Initialization. With this approach we meet you where you are today, help you through the change, include tailoring to your business and incorporate best practices from 25 years of experience. We introduced the QuickStart methodology during the pandemic to radically reduce time to value- it has automated much of the required configuration needed to get your AP solution up and running.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect from AP automation:
- Efficiency Gains: Once processes are automated, you’ll see plenty of gains in productivity and efficiency. Employees will have more time to dedicate to high-value tasks, focusing more on strategy, innovation, and technology, helping your organization grow and improve.
- Cost Savings: With less human error to worry about, you can end up saving money thanks to less time being wasted on manual processes. Your productivity will increase without having to spend more time on repetitive, manual tasks – it’s like getting twice the work done for the same or less cost!
- Faster ROI:Automation can lead to immediate ROI as it will lower the average cost per invoice, reduce invoice cycle time, lower the rate of incorrect payments, capture more discounts, and much more. These benefits begin right away with AP automation, even if you do implement automation halfway through the year.
- Easier Staffing: Automation can make your AP team more attractive to any candidates, especially digital natives who are expecting more from their employers and can be highly efficient with modern tools.
Using this solution, your automated workflow based on a single digital document stream can be live in just a matter of weeks with productivity-enhancing features, such as automated email workflow with mobile capabilities, automatic initial routing, distributed digital invoice coding, identification of potential duplicate invoices, and more.
There are a variety of benefits to using our Quick Start solution to get automated quickly. Benefits include 30+ days of additional visibility into financial liabilities, improved cash flow management decision-making, increased workforce flexibility, on-time vendor payments, and supply chain continuity. Transitioning to AP automation doesn’t have to take a year to implement. With DataServ’s Quick Start solution, you can start seeing the benefits of automation within a matter of weeks.
Here are important points to remember when deciding if your company should automate its AP processes:
- Don’t wait for the perfect time:There is no perfect time to automate your accounts payable process. If your business has identified a need for automation, then it’s best to get started as soon as possible.
- Choose the right automation partner:Choosing the right automation partner is key to a successful project. Look for a provider with experience in your industry, a strong track record of success, and a comprehensive solution that can be tailored to your specific needs.
- Think Evolution vs Revolution: A quick-start methodology can help your business get up and running sooner with less work. Look for a provider with a proven methodology that can help you achieve results fast.
- Address concerns with stakeholders:Address any concerns about mid-year automation with stakeholders, including employees, vendors, and clients. Communicate the benefits of automation early and often. Expect change management from your provider.
- Plan for training and support: Ensure that your employees have the training and support they need to use the new automated system effectively. Make sure they understand how the system works, how to troubleshoot issues, and where to go for help.
We’re here to address your concerns and those of stakeholders, employees, vendors, and clients, and help you plan for the training and support you need for successful automation. And with solutions like DataServ’s Quick Start, you can ensure your organization sees the benefits without the lengthy time commitment.