You’ve wrung out as much inefficiency as you can from your manual processes. The only way to keep up with the mounting piles of invoices is to automate. But automate what? How? And what comes after turning on the system?
What you don’t know can cost you. This can be a once-in-a-career decision and the wrong choice can set your department back years. But you don’t have to figure this out on your own.
Based on our recent whitepaper, 16 Very Effective Ways to Mess Up Your AP Automation Project , we have developed a comprehensive Checklist to help you avoid “messing up” when it comes to choosing the right provider.
STEP 1: PREPARATION: When considering an AP automation vendor, how you should prepare BEFORE contacting them?
- Define your firm’s main business goals to achieve—and pain points to solve—for automating the AP workflow.
- Establish your KPIs. What do you want to measure?
- Know what kind of ERP/Financial Management System your firm is using. In Step 3, you’ll want to be prepared to answer this when the vendors you are considering ask, and you’ll want to know how seamless the solution integrates with your ERP.
- Document and/or map out your AP workflow (invoice processing) from the receipt of an invoice, GL assignment, approvals, and payment, to storage of documents. What happens after approvals are complete? Include specific examples.
- What part of your invoice processing workflow is costing your firm the most time and money?
- Would an on-premise or cloud-based solution be best for your firm?
- Identify how many invoices you process per month and how many approvers there are throughout the workflow.
STEP 2: QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK: When considering an AP automation vendor, here are the top 10 questions you should ask the solution providers you are considering to determine confidently whether they will be a good match for your requirements.
- What ERP / Financial Management Systems does your solution integrate with? Is the integration seamless? How many clients have you implemented with //name of your ERP//?
- Is your solution on-premise or cloud-based? (Remember, that was one of the decisions you determined in Step 1: Preparation.
- How does your platform intake, process, code, route for approval, and pay invoices? Are any of these functions outsourced? If so, which ones? In particular, OCR (optical character recognition)? Outsourcing and templates can end up costing you time and money, instead of saving you time and money.
- How specifically does your solution leverage OCR, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA)? (You want to know that the solution you’re considering is leveraging current and emerging technologies that will scale as you grow.
- How does your platform accommodate Purchase Orders/Purchase Requisitions? Matching functionality or inventory? Duplicate invoices?
- What security measures are in place to protect the confidentiality and security of data and prevent fraud or unauthorized access?
- Do you offer a complete end-to-end solution, or do I have to bolt on components to achieve our AP workflow goals? How does your pricing work? Is it feature-and-functionality based?
- Does your solution offer a payment platform?
- What is the average time to implement? What are the biggest challenges with implementation? How have you overcome these challenges with other clients?
- What would your clients say about your solution? Do you have any references in our industry that would speak with us about your platform?
STEP 3: QUESTIONS THE VENDOR WILL ASK YOU: What questions should the vendor have for your firm to better understand your AP workflow and pain points? By following Step 1 in Part 1 of this blog series, you’ll be PREPARED to answer them! See? It all comes full circle!
- What prompted you to investigate automating your firm’s invoice and payment processing? In other words, what pain points are you hoping to solve?
- What is your ERP/financial system?
- Are you looking for an on-premise or cloud-based solution*
- How many AP clerks do you have processing invoices today? In how many locations? And are you centralized—all invoices being processed in one location—or decentralized?
- How many invoices do you process per month?
- Do you currently outsource the opening, scanning, and coding of your invoices?
- Do you process Purchase Orders/Purchase Requisitions (POs/PRs)? If so, what percentage of invoices require a PO/PR?
- What does your approval routing process look like?
- Do invoices ever slip through the cracks, get lost, delayed being approved, or misplaced? How often?
- After processing, how are invoices sent to your ERP system and/or stored?
- Are you also looking to automate payments?
- Are you currently taking advantage of early payment discounts and/or negotiating early payment discounts from your suppliers/vendors?
- Who are the project team members and key decision maker(s) involved in your AP automation discovery process?
- What is the number one thing you wish you could have in a system that automates your invoice processing and payments?
- Have you ever investigated/documented how much time and how much it costs to process an invoice through your enterprise? If so, how do you hope to improve?
Hopefully, this will go a long way in helping you get prepared for your AP automation journey.
Download a more comprehensive checklist to prevent you from “messing up” your AP automation project at http://cloud.getyooz.com/report-how-not-to-mess-up-your-ap-project.
*What’s the difference between a cloud-based solution or an on-premise solution?