July 14, 2021

This post was originally published on the Sage Intacct Blog

Every year, North American businesses spend in the neighborhood of $187 billion on accounts payable (AP) processing. But innovative financial management tools are on the rise, and they come with lower costs and bigger payoffs. Top-performing companies are adopting solutions such as accounts payable automation (AP automation) to streamline payment processes while increasing efficiency and decision making for nearly 70% less than average processing costs.

If you’re already using Sage Intacct, then AP automation is only one step away.  Here are some tips on how to build a business case for it to convince your organization that it’s a must-have for leaders and teammates alike.

Speak the Leader’s Language

You should promote AP automation as the solution to the finance department’s problems, including executives. Keep in mind your teammates and leaders share the same business goals, but different strategies. Your finance execs most likely speak numbers, so here are a few high-level points to share:

Discuss how much it costs to process a single invoice, focusing on manual processes that waste valuable time and payroll dollars. Point out the positive effects of automated solutions, which allow AP managers and specialists to handle other tasks, like analyzing spend and improving other processes. Lastly, remind them that in conjunction with Sage Intacct’s 24/7 AP information access, automation will allow your executive team to focus on making decisions rather than simply crunching numbers.

Add Up All Accounts Payable Costs

When preparing to sell AP automation, keep both hard costs and soft costs in mind. Your leaders want hard dollar savings that are easily identified and quantified, such as opening mail or data entry. Kick off the conversation with industry statistics; for example, according to the research firm, Ardent Partners, best-in-class businesses only spend $2.52 to process a single invoice compared to the benchmark of $11.57 for most companies. Don’t forget to have a clear understanding of your current costs and unique processes. Here are a few questions to answer:

  • What are your current invoice and payment processing costs?
  • How long does it take to approve a single invoice?
  • How many people are approving an invoice?
  • How much does it cost to process a single payment?
  • How many invoices are processed monthly?

Create a spreadsheet to show your costs, including the number of employees, hours, and spend.

In addition to cost savings, share other benefits that AP automation offers with Sage Intacct. Control and scalability are two of the biggest overlooked perks. With AP automation, you’ll always be able to track current and historical invoices and payments. Greater visibility equals better-controlled finances. As your organization grows, scalability will be manageable. With AP automation, day-to-day accounts payable tasks will be streamlined.

Common Concerns

With such a substantial investment on the line when considering AP automation implementation, it’s necessary to address all possible concerns. According to the Paystream Advisors 2018 Payables Insight Report, 36 percent of organizations aren’t investing in payment automation solutions due to lack of budget. About 21 percent of companies are content with their current processes.

Other organizations have a lack of understanding of what solutions are available and fear there may be a low ROI. That’s why it’s critical to effectively communicate how AP automation saves Sage Intacct users from fraud, employee burnout, and manual mistakes. Here are a few common concerns.

  • Why now? Manual processes are repetitive, inefficient, and waste payroll. Years of employing these methods add up to cash your team could spend more effectively. Plus, most companies find that, while there is a learning curve, employees embrace automation as something they can’t live without.
  • Why fix what’s not broken? Manual AP processes can increase fraud risks. AP automation streamlines invoicing, fraud detection, and payment disbursement for each payment.
  • How long until we see results? Most companies notice immediate improvements including time and money savings.

Over time, Sage Intacct users will continue to reap the benefits of automation, including robust reporting and processes that automatically adhere to compliance. As a bonus, team morale may improve as they realize you’ve invested in quality technology that improves their lives. That’s a win! To learn more about Accounts Payable solutions, contact Jim Norton, CPA, Senior Manager, Accounting Technology Services, at jnorton@grfcpa.com.