Convincing Your Leadership It’s Time for AP Automation
Posted on September 19, 2017 by Liang McIntosh-Yee
At one time, leaders were the primary innovators in a company.
Perhaps they attended an event where they learned about a new technology that could streamline operations and improve productivity. Sometimes a solutions provider would contact them directly, offering to demonstrate how they could save significant money each year through automation.
In other cases, they realized on their own that their processes were costing valuable resources. Once they made up their mind, they brought employees in to tell them the changes that would soon be made.
But today, employees doing the day-to-day work push for automation too. As millennials enter the workforce in increasing numbers, they are dramatically changing the face of the workplace.
Along with their tech-savvy Generation X predecessors, this group of workers wants to perform its tasks in the most efficient way possible.
Outdated, paper-based processes and repetitive mundane processes are outside of their comfort zone, leading them to suggest a solution that can make things easier and more effective for everyone.
For those in this up-and-coming generation, it may be one thing to see the need for changes, but quite another to actually bring it up.
Here are some tips to help you convince your business’s top leaders to automate your accounts payable processes.
Find a Solution
Instead of leadership teams unilaterally finding the solution, today’s younger workers are also determining needs and sourcing solutions also. The younger workforce is pushing for automation because they see the value in it.
Start by Identifying an immediate need that the proposed accounts payable automation solution solves or improves right away.
For example, if your current AP workflow doesn’t allow your staff to take advantage of vendor discounts, show how the new solution can improve your company’s bottom line by capturing vendor discounts. Emphasize the benefits of the new AP automation solution not the features.
Emphasize the benefits of the new AP automation solution not the features.
Bring the Solution to Life with a Story
Have you ever noticed what you do physically when you hear a story? Most people lean in. There’s a reason we tell children stories. They’re interesting and engaging. Let’s face it, every pitch, no matter the topic, is better when stories are involved. Use real examples to make your AP automation recommendation come to life and relatable.
“A story is up to 22% more memorable than facts alone.”
Jennifer Aaker, Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor of Marketing
Choose the Right Leader
Once you’ve chosen the solution that will work best for your company, carefully consider your business’s leadership team. Will the CFO be more likely to respond to a cost-saving solution or will you be better able to show HR how automation can dramatically reduce payroll costs?
Talk to a couple of key stakeholders and take their temperature. Are they onboard? Are they an advocate? Don’t assume that an older-generation worker won’t fully embrace the technology.
All age groups have become more comfortable with powering operations using software, especially when it can increase the business’s bottom line.
Find an advocate and ask for their help.
Demonstrate the Value
Your approach to leadership should focus on the value the investment will bring to the company, rather than the time it will save. While it may be your top priority to limit yourself to a 40-hour workweek, your leaders likely won’t be as concerned about that as being able to speed up the amount of time it takes to get invoices into the hands of customers.
According to research conducted by APQC, labor costs consume 62% of total AP costs. In other words, manual intervention is the main cause.
If AP invoice processing costs are a problem at your company, determine how much money your company will save with AP automation.
Although many professionals may worry about their jobs being replaced by automation, many businesses are already short staffed, thanks to the recession of a decade ago.
Today’s professionals usually see the value in replacing outdated, manual processes with automation that does the work in a fraction of the time.
The average cost of processing invoices with low automation can be as much as 20 times greater than with high automation.
Source: Institute of Finance & Management
With a little research into the right solution, as well as a pitch that clearly demonstrates the value it will bring, most leaders can easily be swayed to consider technology to cut costs and streamline accounts payable.