On June 20, we co-hosted with PayStream Advisors a Webinar titled “The Keys to Success in AP Automation” moderated by PayStream's Henry Ijams. As the featured speaker, I had the chance to share three challenging facts of life that are probably familiar to most AP professionals:
- “You can’t control the vendor.”
- “You can’t dictate to other departments.”
- “You can’t justify large capital investments in AP.”
When you want to improve the efficiency of invoice approval and processing, those are hard facts to swallow. But the truth is that you can’t control what vendors send you (unless you’re Walmart): paper invoices in multiple layouts, email invoices, attachments to email messages or PDF downloads from the Web. Whatever automation solution you use, it has to deal with just about any kind of input.
You also can’t dictate to other departments in the organization. You can’t tell IT, for example, that your project deserves higher priority than something the CFO ranks at the top of his or her list. You have to stand in line with everybody else in the organization.
And if your automation solution is going to require a large capital investment, it is probably stuck at the starting line. Organizations are squeezing their capital budgets hard these days, and a gain in AP efficiency is probably not on anybody’s list but your own.
What’s an AP professional with vision to do?
The advice I offered was simple: instead of worrying about what you don’t control, focus on what you do. Focus on technology you already have, the processes you use today, and your current budget. With the help of an expert, all three are enough to enable you to automate your accounts payable and turn a paper-based process, prone to errors and lost invoices, into a secure, all-digital process.