It’s that time of year again – time to make New Year’s resolutions and improvements! Conceptually, New Year’s resolutions seem great, but they can be so hard to pull off and stick to. With only 8% of Americans actually able to meet their resolution goals, accomplishing your New Year’s resolutions is truly no easy task. But if you stick to a plan and keep your goals simple and tangible, you will have the right formula for success. Making improvements to your AP process is no different. Follow these simple and tangible steps to see positive results and reach your goal:
Identify inefficiencies in your AP process
If a process requires several ‘touches’ to be completed, it’s more likely to be lengthy, prone to errors and accrue high costs. The first step is to whiteboard your process from start to finish. (This is our favorite whiteboard.) When you map it out from a high-level perspective, it will probably look a little something like this:
From your whiteboard exercise, can you identify manual steps that are tedious and cause the most problems and inefficiencies?
So take those steps and automate them. Seriously. You want to hit your goal, right? Then start researching solutions that eliminate these inefficiencies with dependable electronic processing. Look for a workflow approval process that can be customized for your needs. You’ll benefit from a shorter and faster process with fewer errors. You will have hours of saved time to reinvest. More on that in step five.
Integrate with your existing accounting system
When you begin to evaluate solutions to help optimize your AP process, make sure they will integrate with your existing accounting system. Some solution providers may not have an existing plugin already built, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t integrate. Top solution providers have the knowledge and tools to build customized integrations seamlessly, so it’s always good to inquire.
Why is this important? An integration will enable transactions to be posted automatically, rather than manually. It also keeps them securely stored for easy access for years to come.
Take advantage of OCR
Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, is what enables the data on invoices to be electronically captured, entered and filed. This technology will increase accuracy and reduce costs by eliminating human error – it is the backbone of electronic invoicing.
Adopt electronic services and technologies – at a pace that makes sense for you
Having a 100% automated AP process just simply doesn’t make sense for certain companies – each business is unique. That said, it is tough to argue that 0% automation makes sense for a company either. It’s important when you evaluate electronic services and technologies that you choose one that enables your company to pay suppliers electronically, but does not act as a ‘rip-and-replace’ to your existing AP process. Perhaps there are payments that you should not or cannot make electronically. Electronic payments should simply be an augmentation to your process; you should always be able to make payments the way you prefer.
Yes, by optimizing your AP process you should see fewer errors, reduced costs and a more efficient AP process overall. Ultimately, though, the #1 benefit to an improved AP process is saved time. Time is the only thing that can be given and not taken back. It’s the greatest gift you can give someone.
Currently, your staff is likely doing the work OCR can do. Or they are spending time stuffing envelopes with payments that could be paid electronically. If they are performing these tasks, is their time really being used wisely? Many of them have decades of accounting experience and/or college degrees for accounting. Wouldn’t their time – and the company’s time, for that matter – be better spent if they could be performing more meaningful tasks…more strategic tasks?
As a leader in your AP department do your staff and company a favor and stop wasting their time. Delegate it wisely.