Should you get an AP Automation solution, or shouldn't you? That’s no longer even the question! It has become inevitable. Now, you just have to make sure that you choose the right solution for your needs.
Don’t rush into it!
Before you start, it’s important to include three prerequisites in your approach. The first thing to do is to be aware of costs and processing time related to invoice management. This is the starting point for calculating ROI from the solution you choose.
This step is essential, as it highlights the fact that potential savings will be much higher than those obtained without a complete audit. Intuition must yield to deduction, and assumption must be replaced by reasoning!
All concerned parties come out ahead: upper management will see that intelligent investment was made to increase efficiency and productivity for the entire organisation; the finance department will observe ROI in the short-term; and users will benefit from an agile solution that saves them time by eliminating time-consuming tasks (clearly identified beforehand).
The second prerequisite is to understand all invoice validation circuits clearly. The level of workflow complexity and interdependence determines the digitalisation solution choice. The third prerequisite is related to the expected volume of invoices. This factor also impacts your choice of a solution and its architecture.
10 Essential Best Practices
Once the fundamentals are taken into account, and objectives are clear and shared with all relevant parties, it is smart to focus on several criteria in order to select the right solution. Let’s look at ten key points you should consider:
1) Ease of integration with accounting packages, ERP and CRM: by its very nature, an AP automation solution must coexist with other software – often heterogeneous – that is already in place. Coexistence must be transparent for users, particularly with respect to exporting data.
2) Automation of the data entry and invoice validation process, including multichannel capture (via e-mail, cell phone, supplier portal, mail...) of all document types (including invoices, orders, delivery slips...), regardless of the format (paper, PDF, EDI...): the solution must cover all processes and workflows in order to maximise performance.
3) End-to-end traceability, with security and archives for all operations: the solution must offer user authentication mechanisms as well as secure classification and electronic archiving.
4) Mobile options for using the solution: users need to be able to benefit from the solution regardless of where they may be or their work context.
5) Elaboration of dashboards to enable precise control and anticipate, for example, variations in the volume of automated invoices.
6) Compliance with current and future regulations: the solution provider must guarantee compliance, particularly with respect to the relatively frequent changes in the accounting and financial sector.
7) Use as a Cloud/SaaS solution: compared to on-premise solutions, the Cloud represents a guarantee of cost reduction, agility and adaptation to volume and use.
8) The solution provider must be able to demonstrate a large client base, with people providing testimonials regarding the benefits of the solution they implemented.
9) Automatic detection of anomalies, such as identifying irregular monetary amounts and falsified documents.
10) The quality of support and assistance provided by the solution supplier, including an easily accessible hotline and web chat, as well as help with setup and user training.