Accounts Payable Operations: AP Automation – Consider Hiring a Liaison

By NE Docs | June 6, 2017

Hiring a Liaison

Liaison – noun – A person who acts as a link to assist communication or cooperation between groups of people.

Are you ready to implement an Accounts Payable Automation System?  Are you concerned your team might not have the knowledge or expertise to identify requirements as they pertain to all AP related business and compliance rules?  Can the teams needed to install such a System manage to do so in addition to their “day” jobs?  Understanding Accounts Payable processes and how automation works are some of the keys needed for a successful and prompt Go Live.

Hire a liaison; an expert(s) independent of the potential provider selected.  A business advocate that supports the needs of your Company and can communicate them to the provider on your behalf.  Although doing so has associated expenses, in the long run, it should reduce the risks of delays and help the Company realize ROI sooner.

An Accounts Payable expert will know the questions to ask to identify requirements as they pertain to:

  • Business and Compliance rules
  • Invoice approval requirements and related Delegation of Authority
  • User Roles and Segregation of Duties
  • Purchase Order types and matching rules
  • Purchase Order categories and approval rules
  • The posting of Tax, Freight, and Purchase Variance Rules
  • Routing Rules of Non-PO and other Exception Invoices
  • Single Source or other Critical Vendors

An AP Automation authority can present these requirements clearly and concisely to not only the potential Provider and their engineering group but also to the Company’s IT team.  Topics to consider include:

  • Data Integration files sent from the ERP into the System then sent from the System back into the ERP
  • Testing/Validation of data between ERP and Workflow System
  • Scheduling of file transfers over a secured FTP server

A Project Manager with experience in rolling out an AP Workflow System can also help.  Note that such a System would most likely be used by a high number of employees:

  • Accounts Payable Staff
  • Those responsible for Reviewing invoices
  • Invoice Approvers
  • Purchasing Team
  • Personnel tasked with addressing PO Exception invoices
  • General Ledger team
  • Cost Accounting team
  • Auditors

Due to the high number of potential users, a Communications Plan should be created at the beginning of the Project. Topics to be announced might include:

  • Implementation of the new System
  • What to expect
  • Request for input
  • Request for Testing Volunteers
  • Training Materials and Scheduling
  • Announcement of Go Live
  • Status of Stabilization

Knowing what to communicate, and when, is key to the acceptance of the System by your users.  Positive hype can go a long way and the buy-in from the rest of your organization is critical to the success of the project.

Vendors may also need to be informed:

  • EDI functionality
  • Different billing address
  • New methods for submitting invoices
  • Specific instructions for sending by email

If Vendor Portal functionality is to be used, Vendors will need to be instructed how to register and be trained on how to use the System.

Speaking of Training, an experienced AP Automation Provider will have standard training materials and possibly videos.  If you will have a high number of users outside of Accounts Payable, consider having Company specific training materials created.  Using terminology the employees are familiar with should reduce the learning curve and improve retention of instructions.

Bring in a Consultant and/or Project Manager that specializes in Accounts Payable processes and automation tools.  Such a liaison, in the long run, will save time and money.  It will also keep stress and frustration in check for the various teams involved in such a project.

Want to learn more? Contact New England Document Systems or CS Process Flows.   They have the experience, and the resources to assist you; from answering your questions about available solutions to helping you implement the right tool. Contact either of us to discuss just how much improvement you want to see in your Accounts Payable Operation.

This article is part of New England Document Systems’ partnership with industry experts. This contribution was written by Anne Wheeler of CS Process Flows, LLC. Anne is a Consultant and Project Manager specializing in Accounts Payable processes and systems.


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