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10 Signs You Should Invest in AP Automation

Is your company still manually processing most, if not all, of your accounts payables? If so, you are not alone. A 2017 survey by Certify found that only 7% of U.S. companies had implemented a full AP automation solution, and 15% were still fully manual (yikes).

If you’ve been wondering if it’s time for your organization to invest in an AP automation solution, here are 10 definitive signs that you should.

1. Susan in AP has had the same eye twitch for at least three weeks.
Susan has been overwhelmed by an ever increasing number of invoices. Month-over-month, the number of invoices coming in has doubled, and poor Susan has to manually process each one of them. The tell-tale twitch has been giving away her stress level. Additionally, Susan has started mumbling in her cube indecipherably, but you know none of it is positive—or PG.

2. Your last AP report showed you overpaid invoices by $23,384.74.
Missing a discount or two for early invoice payment seemed harmless at first, but now the sheer number of missed discount opportunities is starting to hurt. Also, holy smokes, you double paid a few invoices because Darren and Ivan didn’t fully document some of the invoices as paid! Between the lost discounts and the double payments, your company could have taken everyone out for a fancy lunch at the Brazilian steakhouse down the street. Or, you know, at least replaced that copy machine that’s been jammed for the last three months. That’s not as fun as team bonding over meat sweats, though.

3. Your AP team has started silently staring at the water cooler for extended periods of time as a group.
Your AP team used to engage in friendly conversation in front of the water cooler. Over time, you noticed the conversations became less jovial. Soon, they started to unenthusiastically go through the motions of polite small talk. You didn’t think much of it at first, but then they started to just stare at the cooler. In silence. As a group. Like those weird vampire-zombies from I Am Legend huddled in a circle in a dark corner.

4. Someone in finance calculated the cost to process an invoice in your company, and now your CFO eats antacids like they’re wafer candies.
Some overachiever thought it might be nice to calculate the cost of invoice processing to see if efficiencies can be made. Turns out, your company is not very efficient. You are spending roughly $10 per invoice while the average U.S. company spends closer to $3.50. This put your CFO into anxiety mode as a full review of processes would need to be done to figure out how to reduce that cost significantly. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

5. Your vendors are on the verge of an all out uprising.
Your vendors rarely receive remittance notices and never receive updates on where their invoices are in the processing line. This makes them upset, and they are starting to contact your AP team daily to track down that information. Janice has stopped answering her phone. Darren has created a bulk complaint folder to catch all vendor emails. And you’re at a loss at how to make it easier to get information like this to your vendors. The nightmares about your vendors chasing you down with pitchforks and torches like Frankenstein’s monster while demanding remittances are happening ever more frequently. Your spouse gently wakes you up each night as you scream “It’s in approvals!” to ask if you’re ok, but you just mumble incoherently until they just shake their head and go back to sleep.

6. AP staff filings for workers comp is increasing because everyone is getting carpal tunnel.
Manual data entry was no problem when you were only receiving about 100 invoices per month. But your sales team has been rocking it, making your company grow exponentially—as well as your active vendor list. Now you’re getting about 700 invoices per month. Your team was up to the challenge of handling those invoices, but now people are starting to get hurt. Like, literally. There are only five AP staff members and three of them now have to wear those wrist brace things because they’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. You tried to mitigate that by approving ergonomic keyboards for everyone, but alas, they aren’t helping.

7. Ivan has been roaming the hallways like a ghost with unfinished business.
The approval process for invoices is time consuming and, frankly, very inefficient. Lately, Ivan has had to spend a ridiculous amount of time tracking down approvers for signatures. He aimlessly wanders about, repeating names over again like a sad ghost haunting the office. Staff in other departments have started telling the tragic tale of Ivan from accounting, forever cursed to roam this world until he finds Bob from marketing and receives his blessing. They all pray he is able to find his peace and move on.

8. Your auditor just renamed your accruals “The Bermuda Triangle”.
Admittedly, your team is struggling with accrual management. Many of your entries are either incomplete, missing, or riddled with errors. Your auditor is left speechless at the lack of accurate bookkeeping on accrual estimates. Your spend trail goes from purchase order to invoice to payment clearly, but accruals are a big, black hole. He’s likened your accruals to The Bermuda Triangle since the loss of data is an inexplicable mystery to everyone in accounting.

9. You asked Susan to provide some analytics to help shape future spend decisions; she sent you phone numbers for psychics instead.
Your spend data is scattered into multiple spreadsheets and systems. You’d like to somehow consolidate that data so you can make knowledgeable decisions on your company spend, but your entire team is overwhelmed with data entry. You lay the responsibility on Susan, but she just stares at you like a deer caught in headlights. Twenty minutes later, you receive an email from her with contact details of psychics her friends highly recommend.

10. Your CFO asked what AP is doing to mitigate fraud, and you just broke down in nervous laughter.
Look, it’s not that your team ISN’T trying to capture fraudulent invoices. It’s just, well, everyone is super overwhelmed, and there’s a serious chance something will slip through. You know your team needs to do more to prevent fraud, but current processes don’t lend themselves to accurate vigilance.

Do any of these horror stories sound familiar? There’s your sign.

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