10 Tips for a Successful AP Automation Project
An accounts payable automation project is a key part to digitalization. Enterprises have been increasing their use of digital tools for decades and the last few years have seen a rise in digitalization among small businesses.
While many businesses have seen a loss of revenue over the last year, back in 2019 more than 40% of small businesses reported customer growth and said the use of digital tools enabled that growth, according to research from Deloitte.
“More digitalized SMBs have a higher likelihood of experiencing revenue growth than their less digital peers.”
“SMBs with an advanced use of digital tools are more likely to experience customer growth than their less digitalized peers,” said a 2019 Deloitte report. “More digitalized SMBs [also] have a higher likelihood of experiencing revenue growth than their less digital peers.”
While some digitalization tools like accounting automation might raise fears about reducing the number of jobs available to accounting clerks, the report found that highly digitized SMBs employ twice the number of employees as companies with minimal digitization.
Digitization is not about reducing human jobs, it's about transforming the work humans do with a focus on innovation. In fact, about 90% of SMBs say digital tools foster innovation.
So what are the keys to successful digitalization initiatives like accounts payable automation projects? Let's find out…
10 Tips for Successful AP Automation Projects
- Know Your Goals: This is a key place to start with any project and a standard change management priority. Documenting exactly what your organization aims to achieve with the automation project will be especially important to vendor selection.
- Get Early Buy-In: Establishing your business case and getting your executives and employees on board with the project before you start is vital. You don't want a C-level decision maker to put the brakes on after you've already invested time and resources into the automation project. You also don't want to get the project done and find out your staff is resistant to using the solution. Making a Business Case for AP Automation
- How Will Automation Impact AP Function: Once complete, AP automation projects reduce the amount time spent working on invoices. This means your staff has more time to focus on processing exceptions, customer service, vendor relations and other tasks.
- Understand Terminology: Clear communication between you and your automation provider can spare a lot of headaches and remove a lot of pitfalls due to miscommunication. Don't be afraid to ask your provider to explain anything that is unclear.
- Test Thoroughly: Take time to make sure the solution is a good fit for your needs and that the implantation is working. Fidesic offers a free version of our software so you can run live tests with real data for as long as you want. Checkout what you can do with Fidesic for Free
- Have a Dedicated Project Lead: Making the project the top (or only) priority for at least one person is key. The more time and accountability a person or team can focus on the project, the more likely it is to succeed.
- Involve Internal IT Immediately: With accounting digitalization projects like AP automation, a financial decision maker is often spearheading the project. Getting buy-in from your IT team and ensuring they understand the accounting departments requirements early on is key.
- Make Integration a Priority from the Start: Seamless integration with your ERP systems is essential to getting the most ROI out of your AP automation project. Again, work with your IT team to understand your integration requirements. Why is ERP integration so important?
- Understand Your ERP Environment: If you have multiple ERP solutions for different business units or lines of business, you will need to understand how the project will impact each instance. When possible, advocate for consolidating to one ERP system which should already be a key objective for the businesses irrespective of AP automation.
- Consider Vendor Relationships: If your new process will require work from your vendors (i.e. accepting digital payments) you may face resistance. If you are operating in a decentralized accounting department, you will want your communications to vendors about automaton projects to come from a centralized source. Lack of coordination here will lead to problems down the road. How to Get Vendors to Accept Digital Payments
Digitalization is a major priority for small businesses, and with the 2020 pandemic it has become even more important. AP automation and other automation projects can help improve business processes, enable remote work and increase revenue. You AP automation project is key to reducing your per-invoice processing costs. When your AP team is less focused on entering a flood of invoice data into your accounting system they can focus on more revenue generating initiatives.