It’s the second half of 2023, and companies are looking ahead to decide which investments will empower their teams to meet their goals in the remainder of 2023 and beyond.
For many, this may include changing, upgrading, or implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to better meet the needs of their business.
This is particularly timely for Microsoft Dynamics users, who were introduced to the stable release of Dynamics 365 Business Central in April of last year. Many businesses have yet to make the switch from Great Plains but may that the end of 2023 is an opportune time to evaluate whether the functionality of Business Central is better suited for their needs as they gear up for 2024.
For those who will consider implementing or upgrading an ERP system, there are many factors to take into account. Things like cost, features, and capabilities top the list for most decision-makers.
But it’s also important for leaders to remember that while an ERP system is an invaluable tool for improving teams’ visibility and efficiency, it is not necessarily intended to serve as a standalone tool for your accounting back office.
Many of the most common processes for accounts payable (AP) teams aren’t designed to take place in an ERP system. That’s why independent software vendors (ISVs) & value-added resellers (VARs) who specialize in AP automation partner with ERP platforms to create a holistic solution for accounting process efficiency.
At face value, it may seem like upgrading two platforms at once is a huge undertaking; however, it’s actually far more convenient and yields more immediate benefits when businesses tackle both in tandem.
Continue reading to uncover:
- The hidden disadvantages of upgrading your ERP without AP automation
- The appropriate time to start working with an AP automation partner
- The features to look for when selecting an AP automation solution to complement your ERP upgrade
Hidden Disadvantages of Upgrading your ERP without AP Automation
While it may seem more cost-effective in the short term to upgrade only your ERP platform, there are some frequently overlooked long-term consequences of delaying the implementation of your AP automation solution.
Delayed Investment Returns
On average, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to get a new ERP platform up and running (depending on the size of your company or the complexity of the system.)
Companies who are actively looking for AP automation but decide to postpone the process until after their ERP system change add on another year’s worth of decision-making, implementation, and training before accounting teams are finally able to use the platform to its fullest potential.
In the meantime, teams must manually code invoices; match P.O.s, invoices, and goods receipts by hand; chase down invoice approvals; and key in general ledger (GL) updates. This stifles their efficiency, which delays your ROI.
Updating your company’s tech stack is a complex process that begins with a lengthy period of evaluation.
If you look into AP automation on its own after implementing ERP changes, your team will have to go through the same complicated evaluation process all over again. Key decision makers including C-suite executives will have to reconvene and reevaluate budgets, and IT teams who are already assessing system requirements will have to do so a second time.
These teams are stretched thin as it is, so it’s important to avoid unnecessary additional workload whenever possible. Evaluating tech stack integrations separately can be redundant and time-consuming, but by planning your AP automation and ERP software upgrades simultaneously, you save valuable time and resources.
Extended Adjustment Period for Staff
Change management is another important factor to consider when determining your solution implementation timelines.
Not only do the solutions you select need to address the pain points of your workforce, but they also need to be introduced in a way that supports your team’s adjustment.
Adapting to change is particularly challenging when teams are asked to abandon established manual processes for new digital tools. This transition is further complicated when businesses introduce those tools one at a time.
Introducing new ERP and AP automation tools at once supports an effective change management strategy. It shortens the learning curve by helping your teams understand how to use both solutions together, and it helps them leverage paired features like automatic invoice indexing and GL updates.
When to Start Looking for an AP Automation Partner
AP automation integrates into your ERP system, meaning that some configurations will be dependent on your ERP platform. But once you’ve decided on your direction, you should begin speaking with an AP automation consultant.
The implementation of your AP automation solution will be much shorter than your ERP platform, so it’s ideal for businesses to plan the implementation to coincide with the design buildout and user acceptance testing (UAT) stages of your ERP implementation. This will allow you to coordinate both solutions to go live at the same time.
Features to Look for in Your AP Automation Solution
We’ve discussed the benefits of upgrading your ERP and AP automation platforms at the same time; however, not all payment solutions are created equally. Here are some of the key features to identify when selecting the right software to pair with your new ERP system.
Think about why you are upgrading your ERP. Maybe your business’ workload has increased significantly in the past year, or maybe you’ve experienced organizational changes like rapid workforce expansion.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a high likelihood that continued growth will create the need to upgrade your ERP again in the future. That’s why it’s in your business’ best interest to select a scalable AP automation solution that can grow to meet your evolving needs.
Selecting a platform that is ERP agnostic with many pre-configured integrations like Microsoft Dynamics is important to address your business’ needs both now and in the future, so you can ensure your investment will stand the test of time.
Point vs. Platform
AP solutions range from highly targeted to very broad. With so many options on the market, it’s important to first understand which type of solution–point or platform–makes the most sense for your business.
- Point solutions are designed to address a specific process or workflow and tend to be ready to use “out of the box.” While this might sound like the quickest way to upgrade your processes, it’s important to consider whether they offer scalability as the needs of your business change over time.
- A platform solution, on the other hand, is an end-to-end solution for automating any of your accounting processes, whether simple or complex. They also offer you the flexibility to customize these configurations as your business grows over time.
DocuPhase offers options for both point and platform approaches to back-office automation. Our solution suite is user-friendly, highly configurable, and designed to work together or separately, making it suitable for any and all of your organization’s specific needs, workflows, and integrations.
A platform that leaves you on your own after implementation is a waste of your time and money. After all, if your accounts payable department can’t get help resolving their automation concerns, what’s the point of having the solution in the first place?
At DocuPhase, we support our customers with a team of client support professionals who are ready and able to help you not only navigate your ap automation challenges but also meet–and exceed–the goals and expectations of your business.
Upgrading to new systems can be a daunting task, but you can make the most of your tech stack improvements by adding a dedicated AP automation solution to your ERP system enhancements.
To help you evaluate the benefits of AP automation in your organization, we’ve created a workbook that helps you identify the needs and opportunities of your organization and can help you drive rapid ROI. Click here to download the workbook!