Soft Gains: The Difference AP Automation Makes
When an organization has made the decision to automate accounts payable, often the focus is on increased efficiency. AP Automation certainly provides measurable efficiency gains, but what about the soft gains? AP automation is making a difference for a lot of people and organizations outside of the easily measurable hard gains.
Gaining efficiency in AP will do a lot of positive things for a company such as paying suppliers more reliably. The ability to approve an invoice quickly is great for leveraging discount capture and boosting internal control, but this solution is also praised by suppliers because these efficiency gains in their customers’ AP department equates to cash flow for them in addition with Dynamic Discounting. The vendor network knows that, in a pinch, they can get their payment in 4 days (opposed to 45) at a fair discount. This trait alone helps suppliers manage the biggest risk for them in business, cash flow shortage.
AP automation is also making a difference in furthering the careers of AP staff. Of course, when gaining efficiency with the automation of manual tasks we naturally see a decrease in dependency on the people who were previously tasked with manual data entry, matching, dispute resolution, etc. But at the same time we see a need created for value added positions overseeing these new, efficient processes. AP employees are given the opportunity to move up in the organization, perhaps to oversee discount capture, invoice audit, fraud prevention or administrative positions over this new automation software. Yes, decreasing headcount in AP is a goal for a lot of customers, but reallocation is often the most impactful.
As you can see there are many benefits that AP Automation provides for businesses. To some the greatest gain is for the environment. When an AP department is automated, that organization’s environmental footprint is reduced. All invoices which use to be paper are now electronic thanks to the many submission options offered to suppliers. All envelopes and stamps are obsolete when suppliers are submitting invoices electronically. A company can save money, capture new revenue, optimize efficiency and decrease their environmental impact all at once.
The return on investment for AP Automation is not always measured in dollars and cents, but in other ways described here. This bigger picture is often unrecognized upfront. Rightfully so, these soft gains are not what we build our proposals on, but regardless, they can have an amazingly positive impact.