Choosing the Right Accounts Payable Automation Partner – Top Questions to Ask
You’re sold on the benefits of Accounts Payable Automation and you’re looking forward to all the time and money you’re going to save and the increased efficiency and productivity it’s going to drive for your organisation. So, now that you’ve decided to put an Accounts Payable Automation system in place, the next most important thing is to find out what questions to ask to help you with the task of choosing the right accounts payable automation partner.
With so many companies offering so many solutions, with a whole range of different features and benefits, it can be tough to decide which one is best for your organisation.
Here are some key questions that you can ask potential providers to make sure you make the right decision.
How well do they know your industry?
You can tell a lot about a provider by the company they keep and a look at their client list should give you a good idea of their calibre. Who are their clients? Have they successfully implemented this solution with other companies in your industry? What kinds of industry-specific problems have they solved for them? Do they have any case studies or testimonials they could provide? Choosing a partner with an in-depth understanding of your industry and requirements will make the process a whole lot easier and will really pay off in the long run.
What Features does their system provide and do they meet your requirements?
Make a list of all the AP processes you want to automate and check it against the features and functionalities they provide to make sure they can deliver everything your organisation needs. In addition, bear in mind that a good partner will also highlight new features, functions, or best practice ways of working that will aid your accounts payable processes. Partners who bring this expertise to the table can add real value to your business.
How does the system work?
How does their invoice capture and data extraction system work? What level of accuracy can you expect from the system? How automated is it? What changes will you need to make to drive the levels of automation you require?
How do they deal with exceptions?
Matching an invoice to a PO is all well and good but does the system go further to avoid you having to revert back to manual processes to resolve any issues that may arise? How do they handle exceptions and discrepancies, like duplicate invoices, pricing discrepancies or additional charges after the initial invoice? And can the system flex to accommodate your specific ways of working?
Can you get a Demo or free trial of the system?
It’s always a good idea to get a demo of how the system works and see the features in action. This is the ideal opportunity to ask questions about specific functions you want it to perform. Don’t forget to ask questions related to the company too. Are they local? What support do they provide? How long have they been operating? You need to be assured that the software is solid but also that the team implementing the solution are experts in their field and readily available should you come across any post-implementation hurdles.
How do they stack up against their Competitors?
What do they do differently or better? What do they offer that their competitors can’t or don’t?
Is it Customisable?
Can it provide solutions to your organisation’s specific problems? Is there a niggly task that’s specific to your company or industry that you need it to carry out? Can the software can be customised to accommodate it?
Does it have Reporting and Analytics Capabilities?
Can the system give you complete visibility of all your documents and invoices showing what stage they are at in the payment process cycle? Can it provide real-time insights and deliver automated and exception reports in the format you need, when you need it?
Does it Integrate with your Back Office/ERP/Accounts System?
Is the system capable of integrating with your existing systems (like your ERP software, for example)? If so, is the integration already in place or will it need to be developed? Can it access the required data and extract it from these systems? Is the integration 2-way? Can your team access the APA system from within your back office system?
Does it facilitate Collaboration?
Will you be able to share and work on documents with other people in your organisation? Will you be able to share key information with clients and/or suppliers?
Will it be hosted On-Premise or in the Cloud and do you have a choice?
Where it is hosted should be dictated by your organisation’s preferences and requirements. You have two main options:
- Server-Based DMS – Your data is stored on-premise and does not need an active internet connection. These systems can be faster, as they are connected to the local area network.
- Cloud-based – This is hosted in the Cloud. It enables remote collaboration by enabling users to access files from any device instantly.
Is it Scalable?
When deciding which AP Automation system is right for you, you need to choose not just one that meets your current needs but one that’s scalable and will be capable of meeting your needs into the future, as your organisation grows. You will also want to know if the provider has additional modules that you can decide to add on to facilitate end-to-end document management.
Do they take a Strategic Partnership approach?
You don’t want a system provider who supplies the Accounts Payable Automation system and their job is done. Consider whether the solution be rolled out to other departments like Accounts Receivable, HR and Customer Service over time? You need a strategic partner who is in it for the long term and who is willing to help you adapt the system, as required, so it evolves with your organisation.
What is the Pricing Structure and/or Subscription Policy?
Make sure you’re comparing like with like in terms of costs, so you don’t get caught out by any hidden fees. Does the system cater for an unlimited amount of documents? Do they charge a flat rate for unlimited users, or do they charge a subscription fee per user?
Does it meet your Security and Compliance Requirements?
How is your data protected? What security measures will they put in place? Who can access it? Will you be able to specify who has access to which documents? Can you change access levels as employees move internally or leave the organisation? Does the software meet the compliance standards your industry requires? Does it support GPDR compliance?
How do they measure Success?
It’s important that both parties are in agreement on the main objectives and expectations of implementing the system. Outline clearly in advance what you want it to achieve and get an assurance that they will be able to deliver this. Will they be able to provide measurable results to demonstrate its success? How will they show a Return on Investment? Are they able to predict how much money the system will save you (like a cost per invoice, for example) or how much time will be saved on processing each invoice? Can they do this in advance of the implementation?
What is the Implementation Process Methodology?
With any big change in the organisation, you’ll want to make sure that you can minimise disruption and get your team using it as smoothly and quickly as possible. Ask whether they provide staff training in advance? How much downtime will there be? How quickly can you expect to get up and running on the new system?
Do they provide Ongoing Support?
Having proper support in place can make a big difference when it comes to getting used to the system so it’s important to agree this upfront. If there are any initial hiccups, will they be there to help you resolve them? Where are the team based, how do you contact them and how quickly will they respond to customer queries?
We hope this blog on the topic of choosing the right accounts payable automation partner will set you on the road to success. Businesses who implement APA with the right provider don’t look back and extoll the benefits of the time and efficiency gains earned.
Want to find out more about how to choose the right APA Partner for you?
At Enterprise Imaging Systems we’ve been helping our clients save time, money and a whole lot of hassle for over 20 years. We help clients across multiple industries to solve a variety of accounts payable and document management challenges and our strategic partnership approach enables us to provide solutions that evolve with their business.
If you’d like to find out more about what our accounts payable automation software can do for your business, talk to one of our experts today.