Identify the most common challenges
Identify the root cause of these challenges
Ensure all stakeholders understand their role in the P2P process
Let’s have a closer look at the accounts payable (AP), where the business process starts with the digitalization of incoming documents, invoices that are used for further automated processing, storing, or sharing.
When searching for AP automation software, you might get overwhelmed by the number of best-in-class providers, all promising top results with advanced analytics, high automation rates, and touchless processing of incoming invoices up to the payment. Their scope ranges from OCR solutions to full procure-to-pay suites. But before you jump to conclusions, choosing one of the available options on the market for AP automation, it is important to consider the AP from a holistic perspective.
Even though AP teams tend to struggle with backlogs without being able to prioritize the workload leading to late payments and complaints from vendors, the digitalization of the “as-is” AP process will not necessarily bring the solution and the expected improvements.
As AP is part of an end-to-end process - procure to pay (P2P) – the inefficiencies in earlier stages such as requesting, ordering and receiving a good/service might cause significant backlogs in AP which might not be avoided by implementing new software.
In order to maximize the return on investment of the AP/P2P software project, the end-to-end process has to be analyzed first. Once the initial stages of the process are optimized, the invoice processing can be automated more easily.
To summarize, there are important steps to take before selecting an AP automation tool. If going straight to any software implementation partner, you might end up with a great tool, promising high automation and processing rates in general. However, during the software implementation, there is rarely a process improvement phase that would be crucial to increase the best cost-benefit ratio.