AP Automation

Looking to Automate? These Tips Will Help You Pick the Right Solution

June 30, 2022

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Life is full of difficult choices.

Delivery or takeout? Soup or salad? Cone or cup?

With 86% of CFOs listing digitization of financial processes like accounts payable as key to their organization’s success, finding the appropriate automation solution may seem like another multiple-choice quagmire.

Luckily, there are some tried and true tips to help you find the perfect AP software, leaving your mind free to worry about the big issues. Like crunchy peanut butter or smooth?

Organize a Team

To make a truly informed decision, start by assembling a team that can help you understand your organizational needs. Adopting new software impacts multiple departments, from the C-Suite to IT and accounts payable. Insights from each will help provide an accurate idea of what is needed, how it can be implemented, and how the choice aligns with the broader corporate strategy.

Chart a Map to the Future

Before selecting an AP software, it’s important to recognize where you are and where’d you like to end up. Consulting with stakeholders is key. How does the current AP workflow operate? Start by documenting every step, from the time an invoice is received until it is paid.

What are the pain points in the process? Where do bottlenecks exist? Issues may include too much time wasted on data entry, difficulty tracking down approvals, not enough transparency or oversight of the process, lack of accessibility to data, or too much money wasted on each transaction.

Once you’ve determined the problems, you can set tangible goals you’d like to achieve. For instance, you may be looking to:

With this list in mind, you can look for a solution that best facilitates your team’s objectives. For instance, when looking to improve KPIs, you’ll want to find something that possesses robust reporting capabilities so that you can easily identify problem areas that need to be addressed. This will also help teams looking to lower Days Payable Outstanding, as it will highlight where bottlenecks exist.

For teams looking to lower processing time, you’ll want a solution with high transparency, allowing you to see what is slowing your process down. You will also want to find a system that allows you to set up approval matrices, ensuring that each invoice is quickly routed to the appropriate party for resolution. These features will also facilitate easy audits in the future, as they will provide a clear trail for each step the invoice took, from receipt until payment.

Identify Dependencies

A key consideration when looking to digitize is whether or not the program can integrate with your existing accounting system or ERP. Your new AP software should have the ability to communicate seamlessly with your existing financial software and do so from a simple, intuitive dashboard that doesn’t require you to jump between systems.

Additional factors to consider: :

  • Am I able to easily import lists from my accounting software for coding?
  • Can information on transactions such as purchase orders or payments be readily accessed?
  • Will I be able to export information back to my existing financial system?

It is also beneficial to confirm what integrations are supported. Not all AP automation solutions are the same, and it’s important to establish upfront that the one you select is compatible with your existing systems.

Weighing Your Options

Before settling on a decision, it’s worth taking the time to do your research. While full costs will always be a primary concern, take time to view product demos. Request case studies and testimonials from the vendor.

In addition, find out all you can about the supplier’s onboarding process and the support offered post-installation. As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve for your team, and it’s important to work with a company willing to ensure that you are up and running successfully after the sale.

Dashboards and customizable views should also be at the top your checklist. From management to AP employees, everyone who accesses the system will have different needs, and a one size fits all approach may be functional, but not convenient or best suited to provide optimal performance.

Using these simple guidelines will take the guesswork out of selecting the right software, ensuring that what you adopt is the best possible match for your organization’s needs.

To learn more about how automation can improve your AP process, watch the on-demand webinar Eliminate Friction in Your Accounting Workflow

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