The Myth of Overnight Success
You know all too often we look to one hit wonders and overnight successes as the model of greatness that many people aspire to, but few will ever achieve. When we assess what someone else has done that is novel or noteworthy, we sometimes get the deer in the headlights effect where we fail to realize the preparation that’s happened prior and off-scene to enable that person to achieve whatever they have done. I suppose if we stepped back and hit the rewind on the scene we’d see something truly remarkable...someone committed to a cause...an almost sacred trust oriented towards consistent effort and improvement in the pursuit of a worthwhile goal.
To fall in love with the process of betterment is a difficult thing to do, but if it can be embraced the results can be quite astounding, and it’s no different in Accounts Payable, albeit somewhat less glorious.
Consider Bill Belichick’s commentary on his protege, but now proven QB, Tom Brady...Belichick said this off him, “Success...is not all about talent, it’s about dependability, consistency, being coachable, and understanding what you need to do to improve.” He essentially was pointing out that Brady is not the greatest physical specimen of a QB and that everything he’s achieved, 7 NFL Superbowl appearances, and a whopping 5 Superbowl Championships, has been attributable to his ridiculous work ethic.
If we could glean that little nugget of a soul fully invested and applied, we’d find something of great worth I think.
As it relates to Accounts Payable, we want to take a brief look at the virtues of going it alone without the luxuries afforded through automated Accounts Payable software, and believe it or not there are some.
From a shortlist perspective, not having solid Accounts Payable software you’re forced into the reality of the following:
Hard Work - So essentially, if you’re not leveraging a machine automation approach to rip data off invoices, you will certainly be working hard because you’ll have no other choice. You’ll be in a world governed by data entry and manual matching processes, and this can only scale on a headcount based model absent technology to level the playing field.
Honesty - However, this will keep you honest, or at least leave you busy enough that you won’t have time for much else. In a manual invoice processing environment you certainly won’t have time for idleness, which in and of itself is meritorious.
Beyond those couple examples, we think the virtues of manual Accounts Payable are outstripped by the inconveniences and challenges that surround it.
If discretion is the better part of valor, then it would probably be wiser to employ a method to move away from manual efforts and embrace the power of automation than to continue with the vainglory that stems from going it alone and suffering through arduous process.
The downsides to manual processing if summed up might look like this:
Burnout and turnover - One of the challenges of manual Accounts Payable processing is the grind that is required to enter, match, and pay invoices. This, combined with the fact that it is not a highly skilled trade, invariably leads to a high turnover rate within the ranks.
Lack of visibility - Again, when all data is mired in manual data entry, there is virtually no semblance of visibility to process data until the point of entry. Essentially, when AP gets an invoice it can be processed and the data utilized, but prior to that everything is essentially a fog, and as such you don’t typically have the ability to triage an invoice through a workflow or accelerate, pause, or delegate processing to another party.
Missed Opportunities - This can lead to missed opportunities on the payment execution side. That would include opportunities to capture early payment discounts, but for some laggard type organizations it can mean worse than that and ultimately cost them additional fees as it costs extra due to late payment fees.
Hopefully we’ve expounded enough on the merits of automation and Accounts Payable software to at least pique your interest in exploring it further. Granted it can be a long journey, but nothing worthwhile is accomplished hastily. Remember, going back to the foundational elements we began with...being coachable, being consistent, being dependable, and understanding what you need to do to improve...are the framework for success in any venue, accounts payable automation notwithstanding.