It’s easy to forget that no digital or electronic application becomes a success on its own; not even AP automation. While all of the promised benefits are perfectly possible, without the right kind of solution and a good working knowledge of its processes, accounts payable automation cannot reach its full potential.

This is why, if you’re thinking about implementing an AP automation solution for the first time, you need to confront the basics. There are lots of different features and options available, so learn how to pick the ones that will help your business thrive.

Understanding the Options

There are four key areas of EIPP applications. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each before making your choice.

  1. Invoice Scanning – This option involves the use of scanning machines that turns paper invoices into electronic invoices. The electronic invoice contains data from the original as well as the imaged copy as an attachment to the invoice. Scanners are used to capture and record all incoming transactions, so that they can be used in future e-invoicing automation.
  1. SaaS (Software As A Service) – This option refers to the use of external automation resources; both SaaS and other software suppliers. It is usually the most well rounded, comprehensive form of AP Automation, because it gives businesses the chance to benefit from a whole range of different solutions. As these are handled by a third party supplier, the business only has to worry about directing the right data and information towards its own ERP records.
  1. EDI – ‘EDI’ refers to the machine-to-machine transfer of receipts / invoices, in a mutually agreed upon format, among business affiliates. For most businesses, this kind of application raises more problems than necessary. As such, it may be incorporated into an existing setup, but shouldn’t be relied on as the primary form of automation. The data from the separate EDI feeds tends to be spread out, haphazardly, around multiple machines. This makes it harder to process, utilize, and solve problems.
  1. Supplier Adoption and Onboarding – This is designed to adapt to all your suppliers and vendors, from the small independent business person to the large corporation. Electronic Invoicing is usually free to those suppliers participating. Through this connection suppliers are able to connect with your organization. With this collaborative suppliers and vendors are able to capture and consolidate invoice traffic with maximum efficiency.

Picking the Right Options

Even with a little more knowledge of the key differences between the main types of AP automation solutions, it can still be tricky to know which one offers the most suitable features. These handy hints and tips can help you see past the jargon and pick the solution that is right for your business.

  • Opt for a ‘Complete’ Service

It can be tempting to try and cut costs by choosing a less comprehensive application, but it is important to understand just how much money a truly complete and efficient AP automation setup can save a business, over time. Opting for a solution that works with your whole payables stream is highly recommended, but don’t be tricked by promises of a ‘one stage’ implementation. This kind of system usually has to be introduced, piece by piece, to make sure that each one is a perfect fit.

  • Inquire About Maintenance

Before you invest in any solution, make sure that you know who is responsible for its everyday maintenance. If the job falls on you, it might be possible to get your hands on a high quality application for a low cost, but you have to be fully aware of the requirements. The following questions are really important – ask before you invest. Who is responsible for upgrading and maintaining the system? Does it cost extra to outsource this task?

  • Guarantee Compatibility

You need a solution that is compatible with all kinds of transactions. This means paper reports, emails, fax messages, EDI, XML, and more. While the opportunity to eradicate paper documents is one of the biggest strengths of this software, you shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of being able to convert EDI processes into a digital format. If used together, these two options provide an efficient and intuitive system.

Now that you have a substantial amount of information available, you should be able to make a choice and pick the AP automation Solution that will help your organization to thrive in the world of accounts payable automation.