Why don’t companies automate AP processes?

Why don’t companies automate AP processes?

Firms must overcome four misconceptions to reap the cost and efficiency benefits of automation

Elly Yates-Roberts |

It’s no secret that there are a host of benefits when automating accounts payable (AP) processes with a document management/paperless automation solution. As AP teams receive and send out more paper documents than other departments, enterprises often choose AP automation as a starting point for a bigger digital transformation initiative. However, despite recognising its perks, many businesses are yet to embrace AP automation and that’s largely because of four common misconceptions. 

First, there’s a general misunderstanding of what AP automation is. Many companies believe that it just means automating the payment portion of AP, and that thought doesn’t generally elicit much excitement. In reality, AP automation goes beyond this; it automates the receipt of invoices, as well as the entire workflow. That’s why companies should look for robust automation systems that can streamline full processes, increase operational efficiency and generate significant return on investment (ROI). 

As technology gets smarter, companies fear that robots will take over the workplace and render their human workers obsolete, so they steer clear of automation. Although this scenario might appear to be the case with automation tools at first glance, these solutions cannot replace human cognition. Consequently, employees can be reallocated to more pertinent tasks that require reasoning and thought. 

Companies are also hesitating because of the old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Many organisations believe that their current legacy system works fine because they’ve been using it for years and they’re accustomed to the processes and procedures, even if they’re inefficient. However, the risks of unpaid invoices, late payment penalties and fraud are higher when invoices are received via antiquated ways. In addition, it can be cumbersome (or near impossible) for a home-grown legacy system to integrate with a Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning solution.

Finally, most organisations put off implementing new technology – sometimes indefinitely – because the cost and duration of innovation can be daunting. Yet it’s important to remember that automation is an investment and it’s a scalable solution that can grow as quickly, or as slowly, as a company needs it to. This means that they’re able to invest as much as they want, calculate the initial ROI and then continue to scale the solution and further increase the ROI over time. 

While innovation with AP automation may seem daunting, the benefits far outweigh the hesitations and will lead to enhanced efficiency, accuracy, ROI and visibility. 

Alyssa Putzer is the marketing communications specialist for Metafile Information Systems 

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.

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