Chapter 8

Sustaining AP Automation Success

Automated processes tighten up with time.

Now that everything is automated and in place, what’s next?

After a celebratory happy hour with everyone involved in the massive undertaking, it is important that you don’t forget about your new system and assume everything is working perfectly. There is always more to do, including deciding how to use the newly freed up time your staff has recently been granted.

Start by focusing your staff on other AP tasks and responsibilities, including projects that can improve overall efficiency and profitability. Your team can discover and work with new features of your AP system, like spending controls, vendor controls, and early payment rebate programs. Instead of just handing out costs, your AP team can generate revenue for the company.

As new processes become more familiar, your team can scale even further. While some savings are immediate, other cost savings through automation come further down the road as the company grows and achieves new efficiencies.

As invoice volumes grow in the future, you won’t need to hire new staff to handle it. You can just use your already-optimized staff and systems to take on the growth without sacrificing cost or quality.

A recent study from the Institute of Finance and Management found that only one-third of companies surveyed use document capture and only a quarter take advantage of e-invoicing. This shows that many companies are still stuck in the past with paper processes and manual invoice handling.

What are the biggest reasons why?

Many companies feel they are just too busy and don’t have the time or budget to upgrade. But now that you know how much your company can save from automated AP, you have a new question to answer: How can we afford not to automate our AP?

There is so much time and money that can be saved with automation that there are few excuses to maintain antiquated accounts payable practices in your office.

Life After Automation

Once you are fully automated, then you should see invoices handled more efficiently, better data and reporting, and your employees using their time for more profitable endeavors than pushing paper. This is a great position to be in.

Put your employees to work to automate other aspects of your business. Now that your AP team is filled with automation experts, they can ‚Äúconsult” with other business units to look for new automation opportunities. You may even be able to live without a backfill when someone decides it’s time to retire or move on to a new challenge elsewhere.

Remember, automation is not an excuse to get lazy, it is a path to productivity. In addition to the time saved in AP, you can use the newfound time to learn new skills, focus on new priorities, and take further steps to drive profitability and continued growth and success in your business. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Share your newfound systems expertise with the accounts receivable team to help them recognize many of the same improvements.
  • Assess your current AP approvals hierarchy and structure.
  • Consider updates as needed to further streamline the process while keeping important security checks in place.
  • Work with the payroll team to better automate payroll processes through self-service modules in the ERP, automated processing for salaried workers, and improvements in hour tracking to make life easier on both workers and managers
  • Build expanded inventory tracking systems that integrate with PO and ordering systems to further automate inventory tracking and management. You can upgrade your entire production to just-in-time ordering and manufacturing, if that is relevant to your business
  • Join the accounting team in upgrading all accounting systems to a centralized ERP that can connect and automate many additional systems and processes under one umbrella

AvidXchange partnered with PayStream to find out exactly how AP automation has helped businesses reach new successes across industries. Of companies that implemented AP automation, 61 percent saw a decrease in check usage, 51 percent saw an increase in ACH, and 46 percent saw an increase in commercial card use.

While automating may sound like something out of a movie, real companies are doing it every day. AvidXchange has helped over 5,500 companies in a variety of industries to save money and get better data.

The final question to ask is a serious one: When are you getting started?