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Accounts Payable Automation


One of the things I get to do in my line of work is to talk with lots of people – people who have already completed accounts payable automation projects and those considering doing so. There are seven common myths we hear people tout as we discuss potential accounts payable automation projects with them.

  1. Implementation will be done without any of my resources’ involvement.
  2. Invoices will just come in and I’ll never have to touch them.
  3. End users could never do GL coding – AP has to do it.
  4. Line item data is unnecessary for successful PO invoice processing.
  5. We’ll receive the full benefit of the system immediately after go-live.
  6. Once we get the implementation done, our work is over.
  7. We already use (supplier name) for (totally unrelated service) and are happy with them, so we’re going to go with them for AP automation.

Let’s explore these myths in a bit more depth:

1. Implementation will be done without any of my resources’ involvement.

You'll need to have resources involved to make things a success for you. It’s true that some approaches can take more resources than others. With a cloud-based solution, internal IT resources won't have to set up and maintain server-based infrastructure; however, they'll need to be involved in setting up and maintaining integration between the ERP system and the cloud. Solution providers can deliver pre-configured solutions; but do you want to run your process by default, or do you want it to run based on how you do business?

2. Invoices will just come in and I'll never have to touch them.

There are two sides to this coin. First, there is getting clean invoice data in for processing. This is certainly going to be a cleaner process by receiving true electronic invoice data from suppliers rather than having to extract data from paper or even emails. Second, once invoice data comes in, it still needs to be processed. Even if only 3-way matched PO invoices were processed, there would still likely be price and quantity discrepancies, or situations where the invoice preceded receipts in the system. Exceptions will occur and must be handled in the system – in advanced capture validation and workflow.

3. End users could never do GL coding – AP has to do it.

We hear AP organizations all the time say their end users could never correctly code non-PO invoices. Strong systems will provide shortcuts to end users to enable them to GL code – capabilities like commodity codes, templates of preferred codes to use, and the ability to import spreadsheets which contain the codes.

4. Line item data is unnecessary for successful PO invoice processing.

To the man who only owns a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. Some solution providers who can't gather and process invoice line-item data say it’s unnecessary for successful PO invoice processing; however, this would only be true if 100% of invoices were shipped complete 100% of the time with no price/quantity discrepancies ever. After working in the enterprise software space for over a decade, I’m still looking for that company.

5. We’ll receive the full benefit of the system immediately after go-live.

Even after a well-executed implementation, there will still be a learning curve by members of the organization after go-live – both within AP and throughout the organization. While it won’t be long before full benefits can be realized, it’s not likely to happen day 1 after go-live.

6. Once we get the implementation done, our work is over.

Go-live on an initial implementation project is a major milestone; however, it’s not the end game. There will be tweaks and additional capabilities, including those not included in the initial project scope plus those that are introduced by your solution provider over time. By having an on-going quarter-by-quarter, year-by-year game plan to extend the capabilities you’ve acquired, you’ll continue to help derive additional benefits over time.

7. We already use (supplier name) for (totally unrelated service) and are happy with them, so we’re going to go with them for AP automation.

Just because you’ve been a happy customer of an organization delivering one product or service, doesn’t make them an expert at everything else under the sun. By working with people who are experts in AP automation with a long track record of successful implementations and commitment to the industry, you’ll be pleased with the results you receive as well.



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