Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, Finance and Accounting Outsourcing Services

Mastering AP Automation: A Guide to Strategic Upskilling

Posted on May 24, 2024
Written By QX Global Group

F&A Process Outsourcing: How to Make It Work?

Introduction

The accounts payable (AP) automation market is set to surpass $US 7.5 billion by 2030. This figure is massive and might even look far-fetched for some, but it highlights the sheer efficiency that businesses experience across the AP process through automation. According to a study, 85% of firms surveyed said that AP automation led to a more streamlined, efficient, and accurate AP process.

AP automation delivers immense value throughout the entire AP framework, ensuring your vendors and lenders are paid on time. This also positively impacts your cash flow, as timely payments enable suppliers to offer better discounts, and lenders can assist you in benefiting from lower interest rates. When you combine these benefits with stronger vendor relationships, you create a scenario where automated AP can directly contribute to an increase in market credibility for your business and enhanced business growth.

Accounts Payable Automation Challenges

Before we discuss the process of upskilling your team with respect to automation, it is essential to understand some of the challenges of ushering in an era of automation in your business. It is not as easy as it seems, with 95% of organizations reporting low to medium levels of automation adoption. This is due to the challenges they face:

  • Resistance to automation persists among top leadership, who acknowledge its business benefits but struggle to break away from the comfort zone of legacy technology and manual AP processes. They exhibit extreme caution when considering a shift to a new technological paradigm.
  • Employees often resist automation out of fear that it will gradually phase out their roles.
  • Budget constraints frequently hinder businesses from investing in automation-enabling technology. This isn’t merely a one-time expense but a recurring one that may occur quarterly or annually. Gartner predicts that worldwide IT spending will reach US$1.5 trillion in 2024, with an 8.7% growth rate, highlighting the increasing IT budgets across organizations. However, these budgets aren’t evenly distributed among organizational processes. How can you ensure that finance and accounting receive sufficient funding to drive digital transformation supported by automation?
  • A lack of technical expertise also obstructs businesses from implementing automation. They’re uncertain about selecting the right technology partner, upgrading, maintaining, and managing this implementation. They fear that the complexities of technology implementation can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.

RELATED BLOG: Six Ways Accounts Payable Automation Transforms Your F&A

Strategic Upskilling for Seamless AP Integration

Your accounts payable specialist may possess the skillsets required to manage accounts payable efficiently. However, the same cannot be said for harnessing the power of automation and technology-led accounting; there may also be some apprehensions related to automation. Your business must consider the following strategies for strategically upskilling your accountants to efficiently manage AP automation:

Prepare and Plan

  • These are two words that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Integrating automation into your AP process is a significant digital transformation initiative, and this move needs to be well-planned.
  • Identify the various weaknesses that automation will address and the potential pain points of the implementation process.
  • Also, zero in on the decision-makers you will face stiff resistance from and prepare a solid, tangible, and outcomes-focused business case for AP automation to put in front of them.
  • Emphasize the tangible benefits of AP automation, particularly its cost optimization advantages, and illustrate how automation can support the business’s revenue and profitability objectives.

Identify AP Automation Advocates

  • You are bound to face face resistance from your accounting team, who might fear redundancy or lack of opportunity when you automate key AP processes.
  • The answer to this resistance is identifying critical stakeholders within the existing accounting teams and convincing them of the move toward automation.
  • These are trusted people who can convince team members about the benefits of automation and how transforming the AP process can help them manage other strategic finance & accounting tasks.

Be Open to Feedback

  • Not all team members will be confident about automating specific processes.
  • They may have genuine doubts about how much trust can be placed in automation for tasks that were previously performed manually.
  • Actively listening to this feedback is crucial.
  • You may discover that you have overlooked certain vital aspects of automation, which can aid in further improving the implementation process.

Start Moving Internal Accounting Staff to Other Projects

  • The automation move and realignment of internal accountants should happen in tandem.
  • Say a small team was tasked with invoice generation, which will now happen automatically as soon as a sale is made.
  • In such cases, this team should be moved to other tasks so they do not feel left out.
  • There is a shortage of more than 300,000 accountants in the US, and you don’t want your best accountants to feel overlooked.
  • Ensure the job satisfaction levels amongst your accounts payable specialists remain high.

Partner with an AP Automation Expert

  • It’s crucial to identify the appropriate automation solutions tailored to meet your business’s AP needs.
  • Furthermore, the implementation of these solutions must remain within budget, and your team should undergo a learning curve supported by a partner who can guide you through the various features of the solution.
  • This partner will also address any initial challenges that arise, which are common in all technology implementations.

Comprehensive Training

  • Ensure that your technology partner will assist the team in confidently transitioning to the new process framework.
  • It’s essential for the team to grasp its intricacies and utilize it with confidence.
  • Training sessions should address any doubts team members may have and encourage their engagement with the tool.
  • The primary objective of such sessions is to present automation as a technology that can enhance their accounting tasks.
  • Another crucial aspect of training is preparing AP team members to handle other finance and accounting tasks seamlessly.
  • With automation in play, they shouldn’t be left wondering about their future roles within the organization.

Conclusion

QX is a leading BPM company with a proven track record of fulfilling the automation needs of forward-looking businesses through comprehensive accounts payable outsourcing services. We collaborate closely with clients to create an AP automation framework for their business, help integrate this framework, and train their teams. We focus on ensuring your team benefits strategically from automation and can maximize its potential.

RELATED CASE STUDY: Delivering Efficiency and Cost Savings to Wine & Spirit Giant through Accounts Payable Optimization

FAQs

How do you automate the accounts payable process?

To get started with accounts payable automation, you must work with an accounting automation expert who will work with your business to identify the various tasks that should be automated. An accounts payable outsourcing services firm with automation expertise can be a good choice. They will have the knowledge and experience to identify or customize the right automation solution per your requirements. They can provide the required learning to your team and help you optimize its potential.

Why do we implement AP automation?

AP automation is necessary to streamline repetitive automation tasks that are time-consuming and resource-intensive but demand a high level of accuracy. Automation helps free up your internal staff’s time, which can be moved to strategic finance & accounting activities. AP automation helps make the AP process more efficient, streamlined, flexible, and scalable.

Why do you automate accounts payable?

Accounts payable automation ensures that your vendors are paid on time, which helps you save money through vendor discounts, lower interest payments, and more. Your business also benefits from market credibility, which can be leveraged for better supplier deals. It is a win-win for your business.

Originally published May 24, 2024 10:05:35, updated May 31 2024

Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, Finance and Accounting Outsourcing Services


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