Many businesses can relate to this situation: every time an invoice is received, it triggers a series of tasks;
Manually open the email or letter
Manually read the invoice header and gather supporting documents related to the invoice
Manually key data off the invoice into your AP system.
Route the document set, by email or inter-department mail, for review and approval
Gather approvals and feedback
Update the spreadsheet or ap system entries.
File the document set.
Invoice processing automation can automate;
the collection of your invoices
the capture of the invoice data, summary and all the detail
the reporting of your data, consistently, and generate feeds to other business systems
the identification of invoice anomalies, and expedite resolution
the routing and capture of approvals, and
a feed into your AP system of validated invoice charges, with minimal to no intervention.
provide an online document and correspondence repository
The potential benefits of invoice process automation includes data rich reporting, paying only validated costs, employee productivity improvement, shorter approval cycle, all resulting in lower total cost to process your invoices, and run your business.
These benefits can have a significant impact on a business’s operating cost, driving higher profitability, BUT a large hurdle to successful invoice processing automation is employee adoption.
I have heard first hand, numerous times; “What you described is what I do, what will I do if put this solution into play? Why would I do that?”. It is important to recognize, that employees may view process automation as a threat to their livelihood. Managers think they are adding a tool for their employees to be more successful, but that may not be how the employee sees the action.
Think through what you’re trying to achieve.
You want to bring new levels of efficiency to your company. You are introducing a new “process” that many employees view as a threat to their job. Automation. Key to removing this resistance is to have a openly communicate the employee is still the valued company asset and utilizing automation technology is one more tool to make the employee’s more efficient in their work task. Think typewriter to personal computer. Companies that automate become more efficient, and thus more profitable. This in turn opens up new tasks and employee roles to fuel more growth. Overcoming employee resistance to automation involves communicating, training and rewarding.
Most workers would be happy to have a better solution to their computer problems than having to tell an IT staffer that, yes, they tried turning their computer off and back on. Yet a stunning 76 percent of automation end users, per ISG’s survey, have a substandard understanding of how automation impacts processes.
Employees need to understand why a new technology is being rolled out and, more importantly, why they’ll benefit from using it. Is it faster? More intuitive? Higher quality? Let employees know the end game and how they are involved in making the business run better.
Train, listen, and adopt.
Training is important, so employees are empowered. And with automation, gathering employee feedback to improve the process automation is a very important element to automation. You need to encourage constructive feedback, to gather where the automation is not optimal and to be flexible to update the new process, time and again.
Automation success is a lot about championing change. Getting people to change their habits is hard work. Employees may fail to adopt the “automation” and work their process with work-arounds. This is a time for employees to leverage the automation, to grow their skills and grow professionally in this ever-digitized world.
We can help.
At Contact Telecom, we have specialized in invoice processing automation for 15 years.
With our SaaS product, Billing Data Analyzer (BDA), we automate the collection, parse, reporting, invoice data validation and coding, and integration with client business systems to drive workplace efficiency and business optimization. As an experienced provider, let us help you assess how invoice processing automation might help your business.