An Automated AP Transition Roadmap
1. Understand your costs and potential savings
The first step in your organization’s transition to a more efficient AP department starts with you. Gather important data like invoice volumes, average cost per invoice, and other key metrics to create a business case. Your business case needs to provide clear numbers that show how much your company can save with AP automation. To demonstrate this, compare the current cost per invoice with a new, projected cost per invoice under an automated paradigm. The difference, your cost savings, will help to sell upper management on the idea of investing in automation.
Upgrading to automated AP can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars at a smaller company to millions at larger businesses. Providing an estimate of this cost with a projected ROI will help to further make your case. Remember to take into account resources on your team, IT, and other groups when estimating both the costs to upgrade and the long-term cost savings.
2. Partner with senior management
Take your business case up the chain of command. AP managers, controllers, and CFOs are all key leaders in the transition process from manual to automated accounts payable. Showing leaders across the company clear numbers that articulate how much you can save will help to convince them to get on board.
For such a large project, you need leaders from around the company to come together and support the new process. Getting their support is much easier when the CEO and CFO are on your team touting the benefits and cost savings to everyone involved. To reach faster success, consider setting up a committee of leaders from departments including accounting, procurement, supply chain, and other impacted teams to establish a consensus around the best solutions, planned ROI, and other benefits as your new system rolls out.
3. Build a list of your unique system requirements
While some AP solutions can provide great automation out-of-the-box, many companies require some custom development to integrate with existing software packages plus some custom features. Use these to build a project roadmap that shows development and operational milestones and target dates over the course of the upgrade project.
4. Issue an RFP and pick a systems provider and partner
Now that you know what your company needs, it’s time to find the right partner to implement your solution. While AvidXchange offers unparalleled solutions, your business is best-served issuing a competitive RFP that solicits several competitive bids.
In most cases, AvidXchange is able to handle the challenges laid out in the RFP, and we are confident our solutions to your business problems are among the best available worldwide.
Your RFP should include business requirements, unique challenges you need to overcome, and existing systems that require integration. Additionally, you can include questions, requirements, and more. Be sure to ask tough questions about references, past successes and failures, and costs and timelines to integrate.
5. Hammer out the pricing and details
When you have a prospective winner, the next steps involve legal teams and financial decision-makers. While some providers offer out-of-the-box solutions with an existing contract, others work with your legal team to ensure the best win-win result for both companies.
When negotiating your contract, take into account your budget, costs for implementation and ongoing service, termination penalties, service level agreements, and
liabilities in the event of a system failure. If you engage your own legal team from the start, then you know you are covered and the language, terms, and conditions will be acceptable.
6. Run a small test and build an implementation roadmap
Once your contract is in place, then you may want to get started with a small test, known as a pilot project or proof-of-concept. The test doesn’t require installing everything and integrating all systems from the start. Instead, it gives your team quick insight into how everything can work, which allows you to revisit and improve your project roadmap and what timeline to deploy.
You may find the pilot shows critical weaknesses you hadn’t yet considered or bigger opportunities for improvement you hadn’t thought of. There are costs involved, including work hours, but you might end up with an exponentially better result thanks to testing.
7. Strengthen communication around the upgrade project
Unless everyone impacted by the project is included, then you may find some resistance and push-back from internal teams. Strong communication as the project is planned and deployed will help get your employees get excited about the change, and be more supportive.
Sending regular communications may be necessary for the most impacted workers. Sending wider announcement emails sharing recent victories and planned implementations can boost morale around the AP automation project. If you don’t know where to start, then monthly is a good schedule. From there, you can adjust to meet the needs of your team.