How to manage change during an AP automation project

As many accounts payable departments are starting to plan for 2020, chances are, automation figures prominently in those plans.

Eliminating paper processes and manual tasks ranks among the top priorities of accounts payable departments surveyed by Ardent Partners for its 2019 State of ePayablesreport.  Implementing an automated accounts payable solution is a top priority of 40 percent of the departments surveyed.

There is no question that automating the receipt, processing and payment of invoices can help organizations reduce costs, eliminate errors, accelerate cycle times, enhance visibility and strengthen supplier relationships.  In fact, 49 percent of accounts payable departments believe that eliminating tactical tasks is a big part of taking the function to the ‘next level,’ Ardent Partners’ research found.

But accounts payable departments will never achieve these benefits unless they proactively manage change during the implementation of their automated solution.  Poor change management results in:

  • A weak return on investment
  • Missed opportunities for efficiencies and engagement
  • Fragmented systems and data silos
  • Low morale and higher staff turnover
  • Stagnation or obsolescence

Successful change management requires key considerations at each step of a system deployment:

  1. Strategy: During the development of an automation strategy, accounts payable departments should identify pain points and top priorities for improvement. Project leaders also must determine who will lead the automation effort (e.g., the department or IT), how to tap the knowledge of process experts, and how the automation will address “process unknowns.”
  2. Implementation: Before implementing an automated solution, accounts payable departments must decide on how far they will go in optimizing their processes (e.g., which processes must be reengineered before implementation and which ones can be adapted over time), what technologies they will use and how the automated solution will be tested against the department’s business rules. Organizations also must have a plan for integrating the solution with its ERP application.  And project leaders must consider how the automated solution will impact security and compliance, and whether data governance rules must be adjusted.
  3. Post-implementation: Once an automated solution is deployed, organizations must carefully consider how staff will be trained, how employee communications will be managed, the order in which processes will be automated (tip: look for ‘easy wins’), how process changes will be handled, and how progress will be measured and reported. Project leaders also must plan for what will be said to impacted staff and how staff resources will be realigned.

Following these steps for managing change during a system implementation will help ensure that accounts payable departments achieve the optimum benefits afforded by the technology.

Is accounts payable automation a top priority for your department?  If so, CIIS wants to speak with you.  Contact … to arrange a no-obligation consultation with one of our automation experts.

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