Crawl, Walk, Run

By NE Docs | June 24, 2022

Convert to AP Automation with Minimal (If Any) IT Support

For several years, business trend watchers have been predicting that the path through economic turmoil and pandemics is digital transformation and automation of core business processes, such as Accounts Payable (AP). Still, many businesses are hesitant, particularly when their IT support resources are limited.

For example, one company was evaluating how to eliminate paper from their AP processing. Paper is a huge headache with human error and delays in storing and accessing documents and processing invoices in a timely manner. The project would require some IT resources but could offer significant cost savings. Unfortunately, the project was never implemented because the company had limited number of IT staff. Business stakeholders voted down doing the project because they thought it would cause too much disruption to the staff and current processes to be worth the effort.

In this situation, there was actually an alternative solution that didn’t require their own IT resources, and which would alleviate any disruption to business continuity.

Manual, Paper-based Processes are No Longer Competitive

One method that has been favorable in the business force is the “crawl before you walk and walk before you run” approach. Businesses who delay even in the first steps of keeping up with the trends and demands of customers and partners, can greatly reduce their competitiveness and open greater risk to business success in the future. One key area that now requires modernization is Accounts Payable. Although this is a significant system, changing all components and processes does not have to be done at the same time. A staged approach will avoid significant disruptions and require little or no IT support, while also moving your organization closer to a fully optimized system with positive incremental results in productivity.

Implementing in Stages Avoids Major Disruptions

Even if your organization has no IT support, there are resources for ensuring your business continuity is not disrupted. For example:

  • AP Automation can be outsourced and managed by other business partners. Many of NEdocs’ customers have implemented AP Automation in stages, requiring very little IT involvement utilizing BlueCreek Software’s Vision360 Enterprise system.
  • Cloud services (such as with the Digitech Systems ImageSilo system) require little IT resources. Digitech notes, “As a cloud-based service, ImageSilo changes the economics of content management. The service allows you to minimize IT burden by outsourcing hardware, software, and maintenance costs. No capital expenditure means a tax-deductible operating expense. Plus, unlimited users and data storage means the system automatically adapts as your organization grows.”

Automating allows you to “use workflow to automatically route information through your business processes while tracking every step and function. Capture information online with an e-form, then kickoff any business process based on the data received. You can even electronically sign documents as needed to keep things moving no matter where you are.”

Here is an example of how you can easily start to automate your AP operations with minimal in-house (if any) IT.

Step 1: “Crawl”

Start slowly. Digitize your paper documents (such as invoices and purchase orders) including a few years of historical records and move document storage to the cloud. This replaces all the aging, hard-to-access paper files in manilla folders, desks, drawers, and cabinets.

The benefits include:

  • No internal IT support requirements.
  • Better visibility for everyone in the organization.
  • Easier access to records for sharing and answering questions, providing customer service to your clients, and providing basic management level sign-off for approvals.
  • Ability to create retention policies for document records in the cloud for automatically archiving or deleting when appropriate.

Step 2: “Walk”

Start automating your AP processes. For example, you can replace the manual process where a vendor’s invoice arrives through snail mail, sits in the mail room until somebody carries it to the Accounts Payable Department, gets sorted and placed in the appropriate staff member’s inbox, and eventually gets picked up by the staff member to review and approve. Instead, an automated process can be set up to scan the paper invoice upon arrival and send a notification and email with the attached digital document to the appropriate staff members to immediately review and approve for payment.

Look at what automation offers:

  • Shortens the process.
  • Reduces the cost of processing.
  • Builds better vendor relations.
  • Improves staff visibility to data and documents, whether they are at the office or remote.

Step 3: “Run”

Integrate your fully automated AP system with your ERP system or accounting software.

This step optimizes your automated AP system to work efficiently with your other enterprise systems to provide significantly improved KPIs and greater ROI – all with little or no internal IT resources.

With Vision360 enterprise software there is crucial tracking visibility, the capability to create systematic rules based on routing, coding & matching of invoices, and monitor the life cycle of each invoice with a user-friendly dashboard view. Or alternatively, consider ImageSilo as the bridgeway to your ERP systems as another intuitive document management software that provides detailed audit tracking.

For further information about incrementally converting your current AP operations to an AP Automation solution, contact us online or call 603-625-1171.


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