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Accounts Payable Automation
May 2, 2023

4 Strategies for Successful AP Automation Implementation

by Kira Stone

Exploring accounts payable (AP) automation solutions? You’re probably reading about features, verifying integrations, and attending demos. Your AP department is central to your operations and finances, which means you are being extra thorough in your research and planning.

But once you approach the implementation phase, it’s important to know what to prioritize. Whether you’re adopting AP automation software for the first time or considering upgrading to a new platform, knowing what to prioritize can help you navigate the maze of various AP solutions.

Here are some important strategies to consider.

infographic listing the 4 strategies for successful ap automation implementation

Keep reading to discover details on each of these four strategies for successfully implementing AP automation. 

#1: Audit Your Existing System

Understand where your current pain points are. A thorough understanding of your current end-to-end AP process can help make it more clear, to the entire team, how AP Automation can streamline the process, save money, and even improve relationships with vendors.

Check out our recent article on End-to-End AP to discover more details!

Common pain points of manual invoice processing might include:

  • The risks of lost invoices and lost time tracking invoices from multiple sources and formats (paper, email, EDI, and more.)
  • The hours and potential errors from manually coding invoices into your chart of accounts.
  • The frustration is caused by the difficult or inefficient approval process to get invoices approved on time.
  • The exhaustion of searching through stacks of paper records or disparate online repositories for invoices to reference.

Common pain points of the wrong AP automation systems

  • Missing functionality.
  • Inability to export and import data due to integration issues.
  • Excessive time required to use the system.

A thorough understanding of your current process, and its pain points, will show how your AP automation needs function differently and illustrate how expert AP automation can streamline the steps of invoice processing.

tablet showing a selection of accounting systems and erps Ottimate's AP automation tool syncs with.

#2: Prioritize Integrations

The goal of AP automation is to make your operations more time and cost efficient. Ensure any new AP solution you’re considering integrates seamlessly with your existing accounting system.

With a full integration you gain the time savings offered by both AP solutions and accounting platforms.  Data and automation needs to seamlessly flow between systems; a robust solution, like Ottimate, will integrate with all of the most common accounting platforms: QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Sage Intacct, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, and Acumatica.

No matter your industry, the financial benefits can be illustrated by this quote from  Sean Skuro, restaurant group Tender Greens’ VP of Finance and Accounting: “When I started at Tender Greens, our AP department had three people. Today, even as our business grew from 17 to 24 locations, Ottimate has cut our bookkeeping costs in half — and allowed us to move forward with an AP team of just one employee.”

business team working in a modern office, discussing AP automation.

#3: Get Your Team On Board

Regardless of who makes the final decision on software implementation, stakeholders at every step of the way need to invest in making the solution a success. From accounting and operations to management and leadership, many parts of your business have a role to play in the AP process. Helping your team understand the pain points of AP automation can play a big role in getting support for your transition.

Steve Foster, CFO of Northstone Country Club explained that his team quickly saw the potential benefits to AP automation. “It’s a huge win, now that they know that there’s a different possibility now, they’re excited about it… ‍ If I took Ottimate away from them, they would be unhappy, very unhappy. Some of them would be livid.”

#4: Invest Time (That Pays Off)

Any new technology requires a time investment to get up to speed. It is essential to build in the time to onboard your records, but this time can pay dividends.

AP automation can quickly start paying off for your organization by replacing manual, repetitive tasks with automation. Machine learning technology can help your team save time and energy by replacing manual, repetitive tasks with automation.For instance, leveraging an AP automation tool, like Ottimate’s, allows you to take advantage of optical character recognition (OCR) technology that is made better over time through machine learning.  The same Ottimate solution learns the rules, according to your chart of accounts, every GL item gets correctly coded moving forward.

Northstone Country Club’s Steve Foster explained again how his team reacted to the automated GL coding: “it was kind of an ‘a-ha!’ moment.” With each new invoice, his food and beverage team could see how the coding impacted their workload.  His team embraced AP automation: “Within a month, 90% of all of their invoices are coming in coded.”

Once you implement your AP automation solution, ensure you have a plan in place to train your team and continue to optimize your processes. By following these strategies, you can navigate the maze of various AP solutions and set your organization up for success.

While any new technology will come with a learning curve, AP automation can quickly start paying off for your organization.

Ottimate AP automation user interface.

What’s Next, After Implementation?

Once you implement your AP automation solution, you can take advantage of streamlining many of the tedious tasks of accounts payable.

With Ottimate, your syncing process will look something like this:

  1. Upload an invoice into Ottimate, whether by a photo snapshot, email attachment, or scan.
  2. Code each invoice line item with the correct General Ledger (GL) code (which Ottimate’s AI will continue applying in the future).
  3. Based on customizable rules that you make within the platform, Ottimate automatically routes invoices to any needed approvers.
  4. Once an invoice is approved, it painlessly syncs within your accounting platform. No manual entry, filling, or exported spreadsheet is required.
  5. Within your accounting platform, data has been fully transferred and automatically coded. The record contains a document copy of the original invoice, in case you need it at any later point.
  6. Invoices, card info, and vendor payments remain connected within your accounting software.
  7. Your virtual filing cabinet stays available to you, and your team: no lost invoices.

With this kind of streamlined process taking so much off your plate, you and your staff gain the time for strategic planning, reporting,auditing other areas of business operations or whatever is most important to you.

If you’re ready to explore that first step with electronic payments and AP automation, consider scheduling a demo of Ottimate’s AP automation software. 

Get a personalized demo for your organization today.

Kira Stone

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