What are the most common AP automation challenges that businesses confront, and how can they be addressed? In this digital world, organizations are looking for innovative ways to automate AP related tasks using the best AP automation software available in the market. However, they are facings lots of obstacles during the process.
Typical AP automation challenges include supplier onboarding, integration with existing systems, ensure data accuracy, manage resistance the change from your employees, ensure compliance with various rules and regulations, implementation and adoption hiccups, and the cost of adoption.
The automation of AP processes in any organizations such as invoice review and approval, payment processing, and tracking can increase efficiency, reduce cost, and improve your relationships with vendors and suppliers. Overcoming these issues should be the top priority for any business during this journey.
In our experience, implementing AP automation best practices and following the latest accounts payable automation trends can give you a significant push towards solving some of these major issues allowing you to streamline and automate the complete AP process.
What are the common problems in accounts payable?
Achieving an effective ap automation implementation is difficult and does not happen quickly, which is why a large majority of implementations is extremely complex. However, if done correctly, organizations will reap enormous benefits from it.
The key ap automation challenges are:
1- Supplier onboarding
One of the key challenges you will mostly face is the ability to onboard your suppliers to your AP automation program. This requires the ability to manage change, train their personnel, and explain the added value they will get such as invoice tracking, notification on payment delays, or contact them for clarifications.
Having an additional portal to work on is not easily accepted by any employees specially if they don’t belong to your organization. I’ve dealt with this previously but my favorite part when suppliers grasp how important for them to join the program.
2- Integration with existing systems
When it comes to provide a holistic approach of automating an AP process, integration with existing systems is what I usually feel it is one of the hardest points to cover. Invoices and data extracted should be automatically imported to ERP systems without any human intervention to complete the cycle.
In my opinion, this could be one of the most time-consuming tasks to finalize as you need to carefully identify the systems you need to integrate with, make sure that they provide ways for integrations, and implement the changes needed.
In summary, integrating AP automation with existing ERP systems, accounting software, and other tools can be challenging and require customizations.
3- Data accuracy
One of the biggest challenges in AP automation is ensuring accurate and complete data capture during the invoice processing phase. In order to automate any AP related process, we should think about how data is automatically collected from invoices and what is the level of accuracy of the information.
Nowadays there are lot of tools available that will provide high level accuracy of information extraction such as OCR or intelligent document processing available in mostly any language.
4- Resistance to change
I always mention this point whenever I talk about digital transformation or automation in particular. If you don’t get your employees buy in specially from high management and senior executives, you will most probably fail in your AP automation implementation and frustration will keep hunting you.
To ensure that everyone is onboard, follow my method and engage all key stakeholders from day 1 of the initiative. For example, you need to meet with them, get their feedback, let them be part of the automation cycle, and highlight the reason why this initiative is happening.
5- Ensure compliance
Any time there is financial or money-related automation, you must make sure the new process complies with all applicable laws, rules, and standards such as tax regulations and data privacy laws. This is one of the most challenging tasks to perform as it requires understanding these rules and stay updated when a change is introduced.
Organizations must also adhere to industry standards, such as those for invoice formats, to ensure interoperability with their suppliers and customers. Non-compliance can lead to financial penalties, legal liabilities, and damage to the organization’s reputation
To overcome this challenge, I recommend ensuring that you have legal and compliance experts that can help you ensure that your automated process is compliant and recommend changes when new rules or regulations are introduced.
6- Implementation and adoption
Once the AP process is automated, you must carefully plan, test, and train employees to make them feel comfortable of moving aways from manual work to the new way of operation. During this phase, you can also collect feedback and make sure no impediments exist and all difficulties are resolved.
Cost is considered also a significate challenge that businesses face when implementing or maintaining such system. The initial price can vary depending on a lot of factors such as the size of the organization, the implementation scope, and the complexity of customized integrations required.
In addition, you must consider the cost of training, support, and hardware maintenance if you choose not to move to the cloud. You don’t want to end up investing in a portal that you will find it harder down the road to maintain and keep.
To overcome this challenge, you should carefully evaluate different offerings available, negotiate the price based on the number of users, and try to get 1-year free training and support.
In this article, I have shared with you the top AP automation challenges that most organizations face when trying to automate related processes. Make sure to go through them carefully before you start your journey and carefully plan for each point specially the change management one.