CloudX Blog

Driving Accounts Payable Software Adoption In Your Business

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

May 20, 2013 9:36:00 AM

 

 Don't let Accounts Payable Software adoption become a tugging contest!

In Hugh Lofting’s beloved children’s tales about the adventurous Doctor Dolittle, there’s a creature that is unique to his imagination that has made an indelible impression upon me…the Pushmi-pullyu.   What is a Pushmi-pullyu you ask?  Turning to Wikipedia we see that “The pushmi-pullyu (pronounced "push-me—pull-you") is a "gazelle-unicorn cross" which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. When it tries to move, both heads try to go in opposite directions.”  Now that’s fantastic, an opposite ended, two headed animal…what does that have to do with AP software adoption in the enterprise…?


Only everything…  

 

We’ve already discussed that change for any party can be difficult.  If you don’t think so, I suggest that you fire up some instant popcorn tonight, grab your beverage of choice, and call up some old Kitchen Nightmares shows on Netflix.  Clearly, even when faced with dire circumstances and the threat of restaurant extinction, many business owners are reluctant to embrace change.  With so much riding on the line, and many mired in heaps of debt, why would stakeholders in a process that is not their baby be any more favorable towards the change you’re trying to be the catalyst for?  So with that said, it’s important from time to time to refresh the best approaches to getting your team in sync and marching onward to victory.  

 

3 Tips to Getting Successful Adoption of Accounts Payable Software  

 

1.  Ease of use  – If they don’t understand the direct and immediate benefits to the business in terms of invoice processing, you definitely want to apprise them of what it means not only to you but to the health of the organization.  If they have even a shred of moral decency there will be a reckoning of the fact that it’s all for one and one for all, a la 3 Musketeers.  If not, I suggest you revamp your Christmas card list this year.  Sidenote – When you’re selecting your software solution of choice that they’re going to be working with, make sure it’s easy to use.  If they get into it and it looks like you need a certification from NASA to make it work, chances are you’re going to upset folks and undermine your launch.  I saw a Fortune 1000 company do just this when they navigated away from MS Outlook in favor of Lotus Notes with over 30,000 users, and three years later, the night terrors are still occurring.

2.  Broadcast wins  – A recent client of ours was able to increase their Early Payment Discount capture by improving their visibility to their Accounts Payable process.  Additionally, they were able to free up their AP staff time upwards of 30% by getting out of the data entry business and transitioning their folks to a more strategic business outcome optimizing role.  With that said, you’ve got to, like a good PR strategist, broadcast those wins beyond the scope of your own department.  When others in the organization know what it means to elevate the performance of the company and what the ramifications are, chances are they’ll at least be more open to getting behind it and more closed to bashing the changes.

3. Get Sponsorship – Individual behavior is an interesting phenomenon.  People are prone to acting one way in the midst of a set of peers, and another way set among superiors.  So, if all else fails, grease the wheels of those who can make your adoption easier.  If that means making a visual, emotional, logical, or meta-physical (magic and illusion are powerful influencers…remember the Jedi mind tricks from Star Wars….come on!) effort, then do so…within reason.  With the right folks on your side, getting others to embrace AP process enhancements will be easier than going it alone.  Not to mention that going-it alone isn’t really a way that will get anything of value done when it comes to getting the masses to follow you.

Don't let your Accounts Payable Automation initiative get mired down by factions, politics, and change resistance.  Do everything in your power to help others embrace change, fight the good fight, and see the benefits of sticking to your guns and making your organization healthier and more productive.

To learn more about  AP Automation or E-Invoicing is right for you, check out our eBook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, ap system, accounts payable software, Invoice Processing, accounts payable best practices, accounts payable improvement, ap automation

3 Ways AP Automation & BPO Practices Creates Win-Wins All Around

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

May 13, 2013 10:41:00 AM

AP Automation .... winning! 


There’s been some recent coverage of the sustained rise of the Business Process Outsourcing market globally along with the impacts that the sustained growth has had upon second and third world countries where BPO services are provided.  According to industry data, global spending on BPO services is forecasted to exceed $25 Billion dollars in 2013.  The obvious reasons for this growth include the favorable cost benefits of BPO services in addition to a renewed ability for organizations to divest themselves of non-core responsibilities and instead concentrate their efforts upon focal areas.

 

With that said, there are additional ways by which everyone wins when you blend proven Accounts Payable automation strategies with BPO operations.

Here they are:

  1. Decrease risks of Fraud – By centralizing your process and utilizing technology to perform validation and reconciliation processes automatically, you can reduce the chances of malevolent activity within your Finance ranks.  We discuss this at length here, but anytime you have a variety of seemingly innocuous transactions that fit a certain profile occurring, it could be indicative of fraud elements within your organization.  By relying upon a third party engagement to assist you in process transformation, you decrease the risk of internal collusion and people operating in their own self interests.

  2. Promote Global Economic Development – For many countries, especially those classified as second and third world, the opportunity for BPO service providers abound due to a confluence of factors: favorable labor rates, low overhead, and increasingly reliable technology infrastructures.  This is no secret, and as we’ve seen in the past 20 years, many major global enterprises have flocked to traditionally strong BPO bastions like India.  However, because of the success of pioneering BPO centers in areas like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, there a slew of other countries throwing their hats in the ring to compete in these areas.  Other notable nations include the Philippines (which as of 2010 surpassed India in terms of dollar volume for BPO engagements), China, Singapore,  Ethiopia, South Africa, and many others.  Responsible BPO providers recognize the impact that their companies can have on local economies from a cash flow perspective, but also from a personal development perspective, literally providing  empowerment and training to those who otherwise may not be able to obtain instruction as readily as those in the first and second world countries.

  3. Focus on Innovation – One of the remarkable things about world class companies like 3M is their remarkable ability to innovate in products and services development across a broad representation of industries.  This is absolutely trace-able back to their specific and focused re-investment of time in research and development.    To quote Mike Shultz of Digital Spark Marketing, “Long before Google gave its engineers one day a week to pursue their own ideas, 3M let its researchers do the same with up to 15% of their time.”  If more organizations had more time from their best resources to invest in strategic functions, the result would be real innovation within their process.  Granted that improving the Accounts Payable process is not likely to produce a top-line revenue generating product or service, but it will create a leaner and meaner invoice processing back office, which in turn will contribute to profitable operations and pleasant customer service.

While we think adopting a cloud-based Document Process Outsourcing approach is the trend that more businesses will adopt in the next ten years, it’s not for everyone.  One of the issues that many business leaders take exception with a BPO/DPO approach is the risk it opens its organization up to from a network security and privacy standpoint.  However, there are many methods for securing corporate data and this is generally not a show-stopper for most businesses.

To learn more about Accounts Payable best practices, and why cloud based Accounts Payable software is making AP Automation a reality for companies of all sizes, check out our eBook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Automation, accounts payable software, document process outsourcing, Invoice Processing, accounts payable best practices, ap software, accounts payable outsourcing, accounts payable fraud

3 Reasons Why AP Automation Can Duplicate Payments

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

May 10, 2013 12:05:00 PM

Make sure your AP Automation sights are aligned to stop making duplicate payments!

It's tough to hit something you don't have a clear sight picture on!

 

If you’ve ever seen Top Shot on A&E, you’ll know that something like 12 or 14 contestants are pitted against each other in a reality TV mini-series that aims to determine who is the top marksman across a variety of weapons.  It’s a fascinating show filled with all types of shooters…law enforcement, military, recreational, hunting experts, competitive, and more.  Because the unique challenges they encounter are diverse, no one person has a competitive edge all the time, and so every contestant must try to evidence mastery of fundamental skills that propel them to the top of the heap in each round of the contest.  One such skill is the concept of sight, aquire, and fire.   Meaning you gaze at the target, acquire the target in your sight picture, and fire when they are aligned.  This is common knowledge in shooting sports but in the AccountsPayable process, oftentimes the payment process could be more aptly describe with a ready, fire, aim mantra!

 

Why Duplicate Payments Happen

 

Duplicate payments are a common occurrence for any AP staff, but most especially for those who operate in a highly labor intensive, manual, paper burdened environment.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the reason this can happen is that paper based invoice processing creates process inefficiencies.  One of which is where data resides.  If you think of paper as a vehicle carrying data, then wherever the paper is in the organization is where the data is.  Now think about approval processes, or exception handling processes, and you get the picture of a clouded and obscure process in which data is de-centralized, siloed, and inaccessible for parties involved in the process.  Also, when handling paper, manual validation steps are necessary to advance the processing of an invoice from receipt through to posting. 

 

Some common validations that occur manually in a paper AP process:

 

-Vendor (Name/Entity, Address)

-PO Number

-PO Line Item

-Tax, Freight, Total

-Non-PO Approval & Coding

& many more

 

The challenge here is that when this is all paper based, or even pdf based relying upon manual entry into an erp, mistakes can occur and items can get mismatched.  Further, it’s possible for people in a manual environment to not  be able to keep pace with the volume of invoices that are in the process, and as such begin to see degradation of sound quality controls including preventing duplicate payments.  Additionally, vendor communications can create confusion when invoices are submitted and then re-submitted for any number of reasons.  One would think that it would be easy to curb this process by providing visibility to your vendor population with regards to their submitted invoices (which is something we do via our vendor portal technology and discuss here), but again, in a manual environment without invoice imaging and document management you can’t as readily head this off at the pass.

 

How Accounts Payable automation can help reduce duplicate payments:

 

  1. Promote visibility to invoices in the process. – Every invoice, when converted to data from the process outset should be classified and cross indexed across multiple relevant data fields.  With this knowledge you can search against pending payments or invoices under approval before paying a duplicate.
  2. Set up a duplicate exception queue. – Going a step beyond the visibility/search component above, you should leverage an automatic, continuous analysis that encompasses a few key criteria.  The system should cross reference the Vendor, Invoice Number, Invoice Date, Amount, and any other relevant data to see if there is a previously paid invoice or similar invoice that has been paid or is pending before payment happens.  If there is a match, there’s a good chance it’s a duplicate.
  3. Empower Vendors – As briefly discussed above, get your vendors on board with the self-service mindset.  This has worked for years in the grocery story, at Redboxes around the country, heck with vending machines around the world…people dig owning the process, and by letting  your vendors see their invoices in your approval process through a portal, they can see which are being paid, disputed, rejected, etc. and respond accordingly instead of inundating you with duplicates.

 

To learn more about Accounts Payable best practices and methodologies for deploying Accounts Payable software via the cloud to improve your productivity check out our eBook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Automation, Improve Accounts Payable, Invoice Processing, accounts payable best practices, duplicate payment

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