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10 Questions To Ask To Ensure A Successful Accounts Payable Automation Partnership

The decision to partner with a software provider for Accounts Payable Automation can be a complicated one. Your organization is looking to solve problems in Accounts Payable, but conveying those issues to a vendor can be difficult. It can feel like your ideas are too abstract to explain in concrete terms or you lack the necessary knowledge to start your search on the right path. Not to mention, the wrong choice can turn your investment into more of a gamble than you might care to admit.

If your accounting department has plateaued in terms of productivity, partnering with a vendor that can offer best-in-class AP Automation can help you turn a common cost center into a source of savings — both in terms of productivity and your bottom line. The trouble is, with so many vendors offering so many different products, it can be difficult to trust that the one you’re being pitched is the best fit for your organization’s specific needs.

This article discusses 10 vital questions to reference when vetting Accounts Payable Automation solution providers, including:

  1. What Are Some Unexpected Invoice Processing Issues Our Organization Has Faced?
  2. What Do You Know About Our Business and Industry?
  3. Does the Accounts Payable Automation Solution Integrate With Our Current Technology?
  4. How Do Plan to Address Our Specific Needs and Communicate Results?
  5. Will We Have to Change the Way We Process Invoices?
  6. Does Your Solution Put Style Over Substance?
  7. How Does Your Strategic Approach Align With Our ROI Goals?
  8. Will We Be Included in the Implementation Process?
  9. Can We Speak to One of Your Customers About Their Results?
  10. How Will You Demonstrate a Successful Accounts Payable Automation Project?

These questions will help you gauge the possible benefits and drawbacks of any AP Automation partnership. By the time you’re done browsing these 15 important questions, you will have all of the information you need to perform your due diligence when shopping AP Automation solutions.

1. What Are Some Unexpected Invoice Processing Issues Our Organization Has Faced?

This is the big one. The productivity of your Accounts Payable department is entirely dependent on your team’s ability to swiftly process invoices as they arrive. When an invoice can be matched to its corresponding purchase order, the biggest slowdown is typically the manual data entry required to key that information into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Unfortunately, for larger companies with dozens or even hundreds of vendors, it’s far easier for Accounts Payable to become inundated with exceptions that require one of your end-users to manually verify information that extends beyond what is indicated on the PO. For example:

  • How do you handle a duplicate invoice?
  • How do you ensure that you’re taking advantage of as many early payment discounts as possible?
  • What steps must be taken to resolve a pricing discrepancy?
  • How do you verify that items on the invoice match the PO when they have different units of measure?
  • How do you account for special charges that are added after an invoice is received?

In a manual AP department, these questions are often left unanswered; after all, simply managing the volume of invoices entering your organization can be a tall order in itself. Or worse, each of your end-users has developed their own strategy for dealing with these exceptions, resulting in a lack of process standardization across the enterprise. Your chosen Accounts Payable Automation solution should have enough advanced features to automate AP beyond simply verifying that an invoice matches a PO. Detail these specific challenges to any vendor your organization is engaging with and verify that their solution can in fact handle these specific circumstances. Don’t be shy. Request a demo to see for yourself.

2. What Do You Know About Our Business and Industry?

Accounts Payable Automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Automation runs the gamut from point solutions for small businesses dealing with one specific AP problem to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that employ a variety of technologies to digitally transform Accounts Payable into a fully automated, 100 percent paperless department. But the size and scope of your operations aren’t the only things to consider when vetting AP Automation solutions. You want to find a vendor that has already deployed AP Automation for other companies in your industry. These vendors will have a particularly fine-tuned sense of what you need to accomplish as well as the steps to get you there.

Familiarity with industry norms, standards, and regulations is becoming increasingly important as regulatory compliance continues to push businesses to improve information security. Whether your company deals with SOX, HIPPA, or some other regulatory body, a vendor that knows your industry will understand your pain points and actively work to meet your requirements.

3. Does the Accounts Payable Automation Solution Integrate With Our Current Technology?

Integration is the crux of successful Accounts Payable Automation implementations. AP Automation isn’t just a piece of software you upload to your computer. It must be integrated with your existing technology, such as your ERP system or any other system of record you utilize to run your business. It needs to be able to access and affect this information; otherwise, your solution will be hamstrung from the beginning.

In the last section, we mentioned that familiarity with your business and industry is important to ensure a successful AP Automation partnership; however, integration with your core technologies is equally as important (if not more so). You don’t want an inexperienced company mucking up your ERP or trying to replicate their success with one ERP by following the same procedures they always do with a system they aren’t accustomed to. Look for a vendor who is certified to work with your current ERP or can provide evidence of past project successes to show you exactly how your AP Automation project will be approached. Integration is key to getting the most bang for your buck. If you want “real” automation that doesn’t get stumped on simple exceptions, you need seamless integration that can provide real-time updates to your ERP tables.

4. How Do Plan to Address Our Specific Needs and Communicate Results?

Do you want to ensure that your Accounts Payable Automation project is successful? When speaking with vendors, detail your specific needs and requirements but don’t forget to follow up with them to see how they plan to address these concerns. Furthermore, remain steadfast in your pursuit of measurable results. You can’t track what you can’t measure, and any AP Automation solution worth its salt will be able to provide you with data to verify that you’re meeting important KPIs, such as:

  • The overall cost per invoice processed
  • Number of invoices processed straight-through (touchless) per day versus manually processed invoices
  • The average percent of invoice exceptions
  • Average time per invoice processed
  • Reduction in received not vouchered invoices

You’ll only be selling your organization short by solely looking for a reduction in costs. Accounts Payable Automation can help you achieve so much more — as long as your vendor works with you to establish a plan from the beginning. Any vendor simply looking to sell you a product is not going to help you utilize AP Automation to the fullest extent possible.

5. Will We Have to Change the Way We Process Invoices?

Let’s face it, there are going to be some changes to your process flow when implementing AP Automation; however, these changes should only serve to benefit your team and help make their jobs easier. Understandably, businesses are reticent to alter workflows that have served them reliably for years, but keep in mind that reliability doesn’t equate to cheap or fast. Therefore, when asking this question; don’t be afraid to be told that, yes, you will have to change the way you process invoices. The important thing is to ask “how” your workflows will be changed. There’s a very good chance that you will like what you hear.

Now, here’s what you should look out for. If a company doesn’t offer a tool for designing, editing, revising, fixing, or eliminating workflows in accordance with your business needs, it’s probably not going to be a long-term, viable solution. You only want to eliminate steps in your process that hinder your bottom line, such as:

  • Manual data entry
  • Searching for files in a filing cabinet
  • Printing, scanning, copying, etc.
  • Manually verifying invoice matches
  • Manually performing 2-, 3-, and 4-way matches

There’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken, but many vendors are limited by the solution they are selling. This is another reason why a strategic partner is far more valuable than a standalone product; a strategic partner will align their technology with your existing processes to help your project launch quickly and efficiently while limiting the learning curve for your team.

6. Does Your Solution Put Style Over Substance?

When it comes to AP Automation, no amount of surface sheen can overcome a solution with limited capabilities. During your due diligence, it’s important to focus on function over form. Clean interfaces, bright buttons, and attractive analytics dashboards are superficial if they don’t serve your overall automation goals — or exist solely to masquerade a lack of functionality. This isn’t a question you should pose directly to a vendor, but it’s one that should be considered internally (at all times) as you perform your due diligence. When digging for the truth about the functional capabilities of an AP Automation solution, “can” questions are important, for example:

  • Can your solution automate invoices with multiple lines or pages?
  • Can your solution resolve exceptions automatically by scanning multiple database tables and performing complex functions?
  • Can your solution integrate with all of my core technologies to boost overall performance?
  • Can your solution solve my company’s specific problems?
  • Can you prove that your solution does all that you claim? Or does it simply “look” like it’s up to the job.

With so many AP Automation solutions available on the market today, it has become imperative for businesses to focus on function. Allowing yourself to be led astray by a solution that looks great and claims to have all the bells and whistles you need could result in major disappointment if your requirements aren’t actually met by the time your solution is deployed.

Another thing worth your consideration is how you plan to utilize your solution in other departments. When you purchase AP Automation, you’re really purchasing automation software and the implementation know-how to automate AP-related processes. Why is this important? Well, for example, by reverse engineering automation in Accounts Payable, you can apply a similar solution to Accounts Receivable. By further tweaking your automation rules, you can automate other departments, too. And don’t forget, all of this can be achieved with a single vendor and solution to keep your tech stack clean, integrated, and free of errors.

7. How Does Your Strategic Approach Align With Our ROI Goals?

There are countless vendors to choose from, all of which are vying for your valued partnership. When it comes to Accounts Payable Automation, one of the greatest differentiators is the strategy being proposed to help you meet your ROI goals. As you perform your due diligence, you may find that some vendors are eager to throw around jargon while providing scant evidence of a cohesive, strategic plan. If you find yourself in this position, it’s a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate whether that particular vendor is the right fit. In most cases, the vendor that speaks plainly and is straightforward when detailing their strategic plan is the vendor you want to select.

Remember, your company is seeking a solution that will help them cut costs, save time, reallocate resources, and improve business for everyone — not a solution that relies on confusing technobabble to circumvent your real concerns.

8. Will We Be Included in the Implementation Process?

You might believe that signing an AP Automation partner means your portion of the work is done, but that’s far from reality. Your AP Automation vendor needs to be your strategic partner. They need to work directly with leaders from Accounting, IT, and the C-Level to ensure that every nook and cranny of your business processes are explored thoroughly, mapped accurately, and tested to perfection. This is only possible by working together throughout the implementation process. This doesn’t just give you an opportunity to oversee the implementation, it gives you time to connect with your vendor’s representatives, ask questions, and keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

There will be hiccups; every AP Automation project is confronted with unexpected challenges, but together, these challenges can be overcome. Don’t be shy. Press every vendor about your role in the implementation process. The more involved they allow you to be, the more assurance you have that your implementation is headed for success. To avoid potential concerns, ask vendors how they are going to manage communication and collaboration and what degree of your involvement they expect to have.

9. Can We Speak to One of Your Customers About Their Results?

As we mentioned previously, any vendor that has worked with a company with a similar profile to yours will be more likely to meet your goals and requirements. It might feel like a bit of an overreach, but if they are willing to connect you with one of their existing customers, you should take advantage of the opportunity.  Don’t be afraid to ask. This might not be a common practice for every vendor, but it is certainly a common practice for vendors that strongly believe in their products and services.

Typically, other companies that have experienced AP Automation success will be eager to share their stories and assist their vendor. Why? Because these customers understand the value of a strategic partnership that extends beyond a simple software sale. The software industry is rife with snake oil salesmen. Sometimes, it’s better to speak directly to a customer to see how a vendor succeeded — or how they failed.

10. How Will You Demonstrate a Successful Accounts Payable Automation Project?

You’ve purchased and implemented a solution, but after 90 days, you’re not saving time or money. In fact, your AP team is more confused than ever. They can’t find what they’re looking for. Database searches yield zero results. Invoices continue to pour in but you’ve changed your workflow to align with a system that only causes you more trouble. At this point, your only question is:

What went wrong?

To avoid a crisis like the one described above, it’s important to establish clearly defined milestones to show evidence of the progress being made. By the time your solution hits “go-live,” you should already have all the data you need to justify your decision to automate Accounts Payable. Ask your vendor if they will use real data or models during the implementation phase, and don’t be afraid to set strict 30/60/90 day milestones to ensure that your system is getting faster and more accurate. If your chosen vendor can’t provide evidence of ROI before you go-live, they might not be the right vendor for you.

Successful Accounts Payable Automation Starts With a Strategic Partnership

Are you ready to automate Accounts Payable to cut costs, save time, improve visibility, preserve supplier relationships, and increase your bottom line? You can’t do it alone, but you can transform your business by aligning your organization with the right strategic partner for Accounts Payable Automation.

Together, you and your strategic partner will build a business case for AP Automation that will “wow” leadership, provide clear evidence of ROI, and present a comprehensive plan that accounts for every minute detail of your business processes. If you can find a solution that can be expanded to other departments, like Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more, you can squeeze even more value out of your solution without muddying your technology with various point solutions. You might even find that your best friend on the job is your strategic partner.

To learn more about IntelliChief and our successful Accounts Payable Automation projects over the last 10+ years, contact us today.

Procurement Automation, Payments Automation, and Accounts Payable Automation: Determining the Right Solution for Your Business

As the United States transitions into 2021 with a full head of steam and the burden of 2020’s unique challenges, it has become apparent that organizations are facing an uphill battle. Industry leaders and analysts agree that automation has become a top priority to not only improve efficiency but also become more resilient. For most businesses, this starts in the Accounting department, where automation can unlock unprecedented invoice processing speeds while mitigating errors and generating an ROI of as much as 200 percent.

There are several types of automation that can be used to improve the Accounting department, including:

Selecting the “right” solution depends on several factors, such as the scope of your AP operations, the core technologies you rely on, and the growth objectives that have been established for your company.

By failing to identify which type of automation is best suited to serve your business, you might miss out on some of the most important benefits that help you achieve true automation, often referred to as “touchless” or “straight-through” processing.

When it comes to automation, even the most minute detail matters. From the moment you start to perform your due diligence, you need to be wholly aware of your endgame. Are you trying to automate procurement specifically? Or does your organization want a solution that can automate Accounts Payable from start to finish? Can your solution also be used to automate Accounts Receivable? And what about other departments and business units?

Unfortunately, this article will not answer all of these questions — you will need to talk to an expert for that — but it will help you answer the most important question of all:

How Can My Business Automate Accounting Workflows?

As we mentioned earlier, Procurement Automation, Payments Automation, and Accounts Payable Automation are three technologies that can help the Accounting department become faster, more accurate, and resilient to business interruptions — all while reducing costs and freeing up assets for reallocation throughout the organization.

Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered “point solutions” that automate one function of the Accounts Payable process. For some companies, point solutions such as these can be a relatively inexpensive and effective solution for specific Accounting challenges. Accounts Payable Automation is considered an end-to-end solution because it automates the entire AP process. Accounts Payable Automation is inherently more complex but yields the greatest ROI in terms of operational improvements and long-term cost savings. By taking a closer look at these three types of automation, you can determine which is right for your business.

Procurement Automation

Procurement Automation is used to automate the first step in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process — procurement. Essentially, it helps organizations manage spending by consolidating vendors and products to a single platform to streamline purchasing. Users can compare prices and volume discounts manually, or automation can perform procurement according to programmed business rules. It also makes the process of following workflows, policies, and guidelines much simpler.

One of the most significant benefits of Procurement Automation is its ability to help you prevent unapproved purchases by taking out the element of randomness introduced by a human procurement professional. That said, this type of automation is somewhat limited in functionality and highly dependent on integrations with other applications that may require assistance from the vendor’s professional services team.

Payments Automation

Whereas Procurement Automation handles the purchasing phase of the P2P process, Payments Automation deals with the latter half of this crucial process. Payments Automation helps to streamline payment completion and delivery. Whether your business makes payments via check, ACH, wire, or virtual card, Payments Automation can help improve efficiency and minimize erroneous payments.

When approached as a point solution, Payments Automation requires integration with other technologies, including Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, AP Automation, and more. Some solutions depend on third parties to complete payments, leading to privacy concerns. When implemented properly, Payments Automation can lead to faster cycle times, cheaper transactions, fewer instances of fraud, increased visibility, and more.

Unfortunately, Payments Automation has a glaring weakness. Integration is spotty at best. Some users may need to login and logout of multiple systems to complete a payment, such as the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and any other platforms that are not seamlessly integrated with the solution. These concerns are largely addressed by Accounts Payable Automation, which considers the entire P2P process from start to finish.

Accounts Payable Automation

In today’s increasingly competitive markets, simply automating procurement or payments oftentimes falls short of an organization’s ultimate goal. The P2P cycle starts with procurement and ends with payment, but there are many workflow steps between these tasks. This is where Accounts Payable Automation truly shines, although a robust solution can also factor in procurement and payment, too.

AP Automation is highly dependent on integration. Your solution should integrate seamlessly with your core ERP system and any other technologies that help you collect, review, process, and pay invoices. Seamless doesn’t just mean “playing nice” with the various applications that keep your business running smoothly. Seamless integrations will allow users to control all aspects of Accounts Payable from a single platform. Therefore, if your solution allows you to process transactions in your native ERP system without accessing it directly, it is highly likely that it has been seamlessly integrated. Very few vendors offer this level of compatibility and integration, which is why Accounts Payable Automation is typically seen in SMEs and large enterprises where anything except touchless processing is simply too slow or erroneous to stay competitive.

Some vendors offer a single product marketed as Accounts Payable Automation Software (or similar). Others offer a single-source solution for all enterprise content, including (but not limited to) Accounts Payable documentation, as part of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. There are some important distinctions between the two that must be considered before moving forward with a purchasing decision.

AP Automation as a Point Solution

Earlier, we mentioned that Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered point solutions. However, AP Automation can also be a point solution when the software focuses specifically on Accounts Payable and nothing else. These solutions might require you to realign your AP process with their preferred methodology to help automate AP from start to finish. From a cost perspective, these solutions might be less expensive upfront but prove more costly in the long haul due to a lack of control over the direction of the software and a high level of reliance on the vendor.

AP Automation as a Component of Your ECM System

When your organization utilizes AP Automation features as part of an Enterprise Content Management system, it is getting the most sophisticated and exhaustive feature set possible, meaning more robust integrations and capabilities from Day 1. As we mentioned above, some point solutions rely on other third-party solutions to achieve “true” automation. With ECM-based AP Automation, every step of your Accounts Payable process is supported with integrated technologies housed within a single platform. And while that single piece of technology is highly complex, this complexity is tucked away out of sight within a single user-friendly platform. For example, our Enterprise Content Management system covers all your bases, including:

Any SME or large enterprise is going to require all of these technologies in one form or another. Enterprise Content Management consolidates them into a single platform to make integration simple and avoid process inefficiencies.

Still Uncertain About Which Automation Solution Is Right for Your Organization?

Finding the right automation solution for your Accounting department is a crucial decision that will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications for your business. Although making a decision in a timely manner is important for accelerating the timetable on your automation project, it’s more important to find the right solution and move forward at a gradual pace to account for any potential pitfalls that may pop up during your due diligence. If you have questions about automation for your Accounting department, our experts are standing by to assist you — no commitment necessary.

Are you interested in learning more about the various types of automation that can help improve your Accounting department? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning automation solutions.

Enterprise Automation

Clearing the Air: Let’s Talk Enterprise Automation Myths and Misconceptions

Enterprise Automation

It is impossible to ignore the impact of automation across the enterprise. With benefits ranging from reduced provisioning times to fewer data entry errors, duplicate payments, and lost documents, there are countless ways for enterprise automation to make a marked difference in your organization. The enterprise is evolving, and skeptics will find themselves at a significant disadvantage if they attempt to resist automation. If you want to keep pace with your competitors, you will first need to address some of the common automation myths and misconceptions that cause business leaders to pause.

 

What Is Enterprise Automation?

Enterprise automation expands the concept of departmental or “office” automation and applies it to the enterprise at scale. It places a strong emphasis on automating all aspects of the enterprise that can benefit from faster, less error-prone, and more streamlined processes, such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more.

Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about enterprise automation, which is largely due to the fact that this technology is capable of enhancing the enterprise in virtually endless ways. Furthermore, since no two enterprise automation projects follow the exact same rules and guidelines, the term has a tendency to defy a singular description. Lack of clarity can lead to incorrect ideas and blatantly false information, preventing you from acting in the best interest of your company. Therefore, as the premier provider of enterprise automation featuring universal compatibility with all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and applications, we have decided to take some time to clear the air and dispel some of the most common (and problematic) myths and misconceptions preventing you from automating in 2020.

Myth: Implementing Enterprise Automation Requires a Ton of Coding Expertise

Whenever business leaders consider software-based solutions like office automation, their most common concerns are typically centered around the amount of coding that will be required to ensure solutions are seamlessly integrated and easy to maintain and update. The amount of manpower that goes into coding projects can be extensive, resulting in more billable hours than you anticipated or were led to believe during your initial consultations.

Consider this: the cost to develop a professional-grade application with custom coding for iOS can cost as much as $150,000 or more if you want a reputable, US-based vendor to take on your project — and that is just for a smartphone app.

When it comes to enterprise automation, if you can find a solution that supports no-code programming, you will be able to save a lot of money during the implementation phase as well as ongoing maintenance after your solution is deployed. You will not need to retain an expensive independent contractor or full-time employee to keep your system running smoothly. Rather, with a no-code solution, your team will be trained on how to make the necessary changes to your system whenever needed. Additionally, if you do require support from your vendor, they will be able to quickly and efficiently tweak your system to help improve operational efficiency and increase your bottom line without the exorbitant service fees associated with custom coding projects.

Myth: The Learning Curve of Enterprise Automation Creates a Chaotic Work Environment

Your business needs a competitive advantage to survive but is entrenched in processes that need to be overhauled to improve operational efficiency and save your company; how can you ensure that enterprise automation will be a good fit? More importantly, how can you be completely certain that your workflows will not be thrown into chaos? To be fair, this myth has some truth to it depending on which vendor you select to take on your project.

Too often, businesses find that the solution that seems like the best fit on paper is actually more restrictive than they were led to believe. These vendors want you to play by their rules to ensure that their solution is capable of satisfying their contractual obligations, which means your company’s best interests may become secondary to those of your vendor. This is how a “solution” becomes a problem, resulting in a chaotic work environment that ironically creates more challenges for your team.

That said, when working with the right vendor, this should not be a problem. Enterprise automation does not have to be complicated. Your solution should offer you more direct control of your workflows based on your existing procedures while integrating with your core technologies. This will result in streamlined workflows that eliminate menial tasks and give your team more time to focus on tasks that require human intervention. Best of all, the business rules applied to your workflows will mirror the exact processes already being utilized by your team, significantly reducing the learning curve of implementing new technology into your existing infrastructure. If you are currently browsing enterprise automation vendors, it is highly recommended that you confirm whether or not you can keep your existing workflows intact. This is crucial to a successful office automation implementation.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Is a Static Solution

Many organizations consider automation a purchase like any other. They assume their solution will be designed, purchased, and implemented — and that’s it. However, this could not be further from the truth. Enterprise automation is not static, and your experience with automation will extend beyond your implementation. Your project might contain multiple phases, and the scope of work could be altered several times before your solution is deployed. These course-corrections are important if you want your solution to generate ROI from Day 1 and onward.

Enterprise automation should be scalable. Whether you deploy it department by department or in one fell swoop, there will come a time when you need to pick up the phone and talk to your vendor. But how can you be sure they will be there when you call? Enterprise automation needs to evolve alongside your business, which means your selected vendor needs to be all-in on your mutual success. Our recommendation? Start with departments that are heavily reliant on paper or have the maximum ROI potential for automation, then expand your solution from there.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Focuses on Patching Up Inefficient Business Processes

When it comes to enterprise automation, your goal should not be to simply bridge the gap in workflows that are inefficient. Enterprise automation is far too robust and flexible to be utilized as a “patch.” Instead, your enterprise automation project gives you a chance to take a step back and gain a global view of your entire organization.

From here, it is easy to spot operational inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other obstacles that prevent your business from maximizing profitability. It is even easier when your vendor takes the role of a strategic partner to help you unearth and, ultimately, address these inefficiencies. If your business is only dealing with a single issue, a point solution might be suitable; however, many businesses later discover that these simple solutions lack compatibility with future software integrations, or the scalability to meet their growth objectives. The real benefits of enterprise automation include:

  • Faster, more accurate processing across all departments
  • Instant storage and retrieval of all enterprise content
  • Superior enterprise collaboration
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Significant cost savings
  • Improved working environment
  • And more

Myth: Your Enterprise Automation Project Will Fail If Your Organizational Structure Is Overly Nuanced

Do you have an approved automation project? You want to be frank when discussing your requirements with vendors to ensure that you do not waste time with a vendor that cannot deliver. One of the best ways to separate suitable vendors from those that do not have the capabilities to help you reach your goals is by discussing your business processes and their corresponding workflows ad nauseum. Do not be shy if the way you do things is unique (or even impractical). If a vendor tells you that your organizational structure is too complex or nuanced for automation, they are not the right choice for your business.

Enterprise automation solutions exist for virtually every business in every industry, regardless of the legacy components, systems, and applications inherent to those industries. Look for a provider that has established integrations with your core ERP system, even if there is more than one. As we mentioned above, you want to work with a strategic partner who has a mutual interest in your company’s success. When you find a partner like this, no organizational structure is too complex to automate.

Myth: The Key to a Successful Enterprise Automation Implementation Is the Features of the Product Itself

Take a second to think about some of your recent purchases. What compelled you to buy? If your psychology matches most consumers, you probably weighed the features and benefits against the cost of the product to find the most feature-packed product for the price. This strategy is effective 90 percent of the time for 90 percent of purchases, but it is not a good buying strategy when shopping enterprise automation solutions.

Of course, features are important, but with enterprise automation, accessibility to a full suite of features is dependent on the success of your implementation. Most enterprise software implementations fail; not because the technology is flawed but because the team tasked with implementing the solution is not up to the task. Any vendor that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to office automation is going to find themselves at a standstill when attempting to configure their solution to the precise needs of their clients.

Selecting the right vendor and ensuring that they map their solution to your existing workflows is vital. It is easy to be won over by a robust feature set, but if you cannot use those features, what is the point? Keep in mind that features and a successful implementation are not mutually exclusive, but they are two considerations that should be weighed equally.

Myth: The Cost of Enterprise Automation Is Too Expensive to Justify the Project

Cost justification. The stage of automation where good projects go to die. In many cases, the justification is warranted by the potential for ROI but there is skepticism about whether projected models can be relied on to move forward. Let’s be clear, models help you understand how ROI will be attained, but they are less effective at giving you a precise measure of cost savings and performance improvements — this can only be accomplished by utilizing models that pull from a company’s real data.

Therefore, this myth is rather easy to dispel. When looking to justify your project, ask your selected vendors about their process for calculating ROI. Do they calculate ROI strictly in dollars saved? How do they attach a dollar amount to performance improvements? These are vital questions to ask during the research phase. When reaching out to vendors, ask if they have an ROI calculator that lets you plug in your unique business data to get a rough estimate of potential savings — but do not stop there. You should also ask how (or if) they calculate ROI during the implementation phase.

Are You Ready to Automate in 2021?

The enterprise automation buzz is everywhere. Business leaders have faced some of the greatest economic challenges in our country’s history this year, and the consensus is clear. It is time to automate in 2021 and beyond to not only stay competitive but viable as well. As digital transformation shifts the balance of power across markets, now is the time to cast skepticism to the side and embrace enterprise automation for what it is — the future of business as we know it.

Want to learn more about the benefits of our enterprise automation solutions? Contact IntelliChief today to learn how your business can leverage an Enterprise Content Management system to become faster, leaner, and more profitable.

 

Business Process Automation Benefits

4 Benefits of Business Process Automation in the Workplace

Business Process Automation Benefits

Automating inefficient, time-consuming products has become essential in every industry in the United States. Whether you are a project manager working in construction or an Accounts Payable professional for an enterprise-class manufacturer, automation can help you forge a path forward during one of the most challenging economic periods in American history.

 

According to a recent Harris Poll survey, Accelerating Automation: How Businesses are Adapting to a Post-COVID World, “92 percent of business leaders agree that to survive and flourish, companies must enable digital channels and process automation in the workplace.”

As a business leader, your reasons for automating your company will differ drastically from those of others. Some automate to cut costs, while others do so to help control the workload being placed on employees. If eliminating costly transactional errors is your objective, automation can help with that too.

Business process automation benefits can be a significant game-changer for your company. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss four benefits of Business Process Automation. Keep in mind that these benefits are NOT mutually exclusive.

1. Meet and Surpass Your Growth Objectives

At the end of the day, every business has the same goal: growth.

Whether you want to grow to generate revenue, to spread your message, or to give yourself the tools to make a positive impact on the world, the most direct path to your goal is through growing your business – and business process automation gives you an array of tools to do just that.

The initial cost barrier of automation can be a tough pill to swallow; however, just beyond this initial investment lies an endless bounty of opportunity for businesses that decide to take the risk. Ironically, the risk of not investing in automation for the workplace is significantly higher – especially if your competitors are already getting their own automation projects underway.

Once your competitors automate their companies, you must begin calculating the opportunity cost of your decision to not automate, including:

  • Stifled profits
  • Overburdened employees
  • Erroneous processes
  • The rising cost of paper and storage
  • Lost market share
  • A growing gap in the capabilities of you versus your competitors

After you have justified your investment with the help of an expert, you will be able to forecast your ROI and create a plan to help you scale your solution into the future. With your company firing on all cylinders and productivity elevated by as much as 90%, you can rest assured that your company will continue to meet its growth objectives year after year.

2. Reduced Time to Fill Keeps Productivity at Peak Levels

Whenever an employee decides to quit or retire, they will leave a void in your business process that must be filled with another employee who possesses the same or similar skills and knowledge to complete the job at a high level.

If that role is unable to be filled, the responsibilities of that employee will fall squarely on the shoulders of your other workers. An overly long time to fill can cripple productivity and create bottlenecks in your workflow.

Automation can help you eliminate issues caused by an excessive time to fill. Better yet, it can bridge the gap when an employee leaves for good. If there’s no other candidate out there who can capably do the job or a lack of qualified talent, automation can nullify the impact.

3. Cultivate an Employee-Friendly Working Environment and Improve Retention

As a business leader, you are not only at war with your competitors when it comes to dollars and cents, you are also battling over the top talent in your industry. If your employees report being overworked or overburdened, regularly being tasked with taking on multiple duties or a large volume of manual tasks, they could be heading for greener pastures sooner than later.

The competition in the recruitment market is one of the least talked about struggles facing all employers, but that does not diminish its impact. The best way to avoid this obstacle is to retain employees, and the only way to retain employees at a high rate is to ensure that your working environment supports your employees and is willing to make necessary changes to improve retention.

Here’s the thing: Shallow improvements to the workplace, like installing pong tables and vending machines, won’t actually help you retain workers. Bells and whistles are nice, but they won’t help your workers relax if they are constantly working on repetitive or menial tasks.

Business process automation benefits your working environment because it takes on redundant tasks, freeing up your workers to focus on more meaningful responsibilities or those that require some form of creative problem-solving. Workers that arrive each day with a sense of autonomy over their work-life balance feel valued, which means they are more willing to stay with a company in the long run, as opposed to employees who constantly feel anxious or depleted.

4. Unheralded Efficiency Drives Your Business Past the Competition

Companies that focus on maintaining efficiency across all areas of their business generally have a leg up on the competition. They outfit themselves with superior technology that allows them to establish streamlined companies that waste very few resources. Take Tesla for example, which is now considered the most valuable car company on the planet despite being founded in 2003. Not only is their product more efficient, but their entire business model is also structured on the principle of efficiency.

Efficient processes ensure that information flows in and out of your business without any interruptions, resulting in faster transactions and increased operational bandwidth. For the enterprise, this is achieved by forming a seamless integration with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at the core of the business (i.e., Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle PeopleSoft Infor LX, JD Edwards World, etc.). Once integrated, business process automation software can help you reclaim the 520 hours per year lost to repetitive tasks per employee.

Your company can cash in these hours on new projects, additional training, and other important organizational benefits. Repetitive tasks that could be automated cost the US economy over $10,000 per employee each year. How many employees does your company keep on its payroll? How many “invisible” dollars are you really losing? And how do these dollars lost compare to the dollars gained after investing in automation?  These are important questions that should be answered with the help of an expert who has experienced implementing automation in the workplace.

Automation in the workplace can help you establish stronger and more resilient business processes to help you become an industry disrupter? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about the benefits of business process automation.

Why Your Company Should Consider Going Paperless

Going Paperless

Information is the heartbeat of an organization. Businesses need to manage and distribute information related to all of their departments’ business processes. This list can be long, as it typically includes Accounting, Customer Service, Human Resources, Legal, Operations, and more) and may need to be compliant with Sarbanes Oxley or HIPAA. If the circulation and management of this information slows down or becomes ineffective, progress gets stalled, and business concerns start to surface.

When a company is working under a tight budget in a demanding economic environment, every technology-related decision is predicated on its ability to generate an appreciable ROI. One major cost area in companies getting scrutinized is paper-based business systems. Traditional paper-based methods for creating and delivering documents are fraught with huge costs, chronic inefficiency, costly errors, and offer little flexibility. Some of these costs, which can be mitigated with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation, include:

  • Paper and paper-related expenses
  • Storage
  • Labor
  • Capital expenses
  • Employee productivity
  • Business processes

Why Do Companies Still Rely on Paper?

Many companies keep old paper-based systems for two reasons:

  • They do not know how much they’re really spending
  • They fear negative ROI from implementing a new solution

Paper-intensive companies need to find alternatives to these methods to reduce paper usage and eliminate paper costs that decrease their bottom line.

Successful ECM Projects Start With a Review of Your Current Expenses

Converting a company from paper-based processes to digital processes can seem like it is going to be an overwhelming expense, but it doesn’t have to be.

Calculating an ROI financial analysis requires careful study of current physical costs (paper, toner, paper storage, postage, shipping, envelopes) and labor costs (retrieving, handling, and filing paper copies).

Forrester Research references the ROI of imaging, suggesting companies follow these steps before converting to a paperless process management system:

  • Create a formal needs assessment
  • Establish specific goals to be addressed
  • Know your costs
  • Evaluate solutions
  • Build a business case with a clear ROI.

When companies go through the exploratory process, they begin to discover the excessive costs related to paper and inefficient processes. They can now consider adopting a paperless process management strategy document to achieve long-term cost savings and better efficiency.

Why Going Paperless Is the Only Solution for Large Enterprises and SMEs

The Gartner Group recognizes the components of Enterprise Content Management as top technology priorities for businesses.

An ECM system makes it possible to lower the high costs of paper and paper-related products, reduce manual processing of documents, improve business processes, enable businesses to scale their operations, and improve general efficiency in their organization.

Cost reduction from eliminating paper and storage for documents, a cut-back in operating expenses (daily time savings, eliminated rework, time lost looking for misplaced documents) are some of the benefits businesses achieve immediately.

A new paperless system can be added in stages, with a series of projects that do not require converting all paper documents and business processes at the same time. New processes can be added over time as a business grows.

Are you interested in learning more about adopting ECM and Automation for your business? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning, time-tested solutions that have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.

Clear Choice ECM

Why IntelliChief Is the Clear Choice for Enterprise Content Management

Clear Choice ECM

IntelliChief is the clear choice for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), helping you meet your ROI requirements while streamlining and automating your company. Users can create, capture, manage, archive, retrieve, and distribute mission-critical documents directly from their PCs, eliminating the need for storage facilities, fax machines, copiers, and paper files.

As the industry leader in Enterprise Content Management, IntelliChief helps companies of all sizes go paperless with a typical ROI procured within one year or less. IntelliChief’s time-tested methodology is easily integrated with existing ERP systems and business processes. In fact, as one of the only universal integrations on the market, IntelliChief is uniquely suited to help companies across all industries regardless of their existing ERP infrastructure.

IntelliChief uses its workflow functionality to focus on business process improvements, resulting in smarter, more powerful results for users. It is easily incorporated into existing business applications without any customization or coding. IntelliChief enhances business processes in numerous ways, including:

Integrates Seamlessly With Any Enterprise Resource Planning System

IntelliChief integrates with any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, providing users with document retrieval directly from the ERP application, and access to the application data itself. It enables auto-indexing and the ability to initiate the workflow process. As the most flexible integration on the market, IntelliChief can be deployed across the private and public sectors to enhance businesses over every type.

Helps Employee Manage Problem Resolution

A documented, electronic version of business processes expedites approvals, automating sending and receiving of files for reviews, along with other related operations. IntelliChief enters all documents in electronic format for easy retrieval and resolution so employees can serve customers quickly.

IntelliChief creates a faster process by electronically routing information to the right person to approve, then route to customers or vendors. The workflow engine helps gain better visibility of the entire business process by notifying employees where certain documents are in the business process. It lets authorized users focus on the task at hand without worrying about following up on requests or hunting for lost transactions.

Complies With Industry Regulations

The electronic trail available for authorized users guarantees compliance with industry regulations. You’ll be able to meet specific deadlines to avoid penalties. IntelliChief is designed for highly flexible document retention rules. These rules help provide detailed audit trails and security against unauthorized access and loss of records.

Offers Web-Based Access from Any Location

IntelliChief offers full functionality through a Web browser. It is available to all authorized users from any Internet-accessible location where there is Internet access. IntelliChief is accessible directly from a green screen, a GUI, or a Windows-based dashboard.

Brings a Wealth of Knowledge and In-Depth Technical Support

IntelliChief has helped hundreds of clients across all industries solve their paper problems and business process challenges. They have long-standing expertise and are industry experts who offer support for all types and sizes of businesses to meet specific support requirements. Support includes highly trained personnel, offering both on-site and live remote assistance to respond quickly to problems for complete resolution.

Are you interested in learning more about how ECM and Automation can help your business gain a competitive advantage? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about why IntelliChief is the clear choice for Enterprise Content Management, and how our award-winning, time-tested solutions have helped hundreds of customers work smarter, not harder.

Decrease Unnecessary Spending

Decrease Unnecessary Spending With Enterprise Content Management and Automation

Decrease Unnecessary Spending

Staying competitive is a challenge for every business in today’s business climate. Innovation is at an all-time high, and if you fail to keep up with the trends sweeping your industry, you could find yourself at a significant disadvantage. Fortunately, there are two ways to increase your bottom line:

  1. Generate More Revenue: This can be a challenge. Creating new pipeline typically requires a heavy input of company resources.  You need to invest in training salespeople, marketing your product or services, and closing deals at a rate that supports your expenses.
  2. Decrease Unnecessary Spending: On the other hand, you can eliminate (or at the very least reduce) the types of unnecessary expenses that most businesses are completely unaware of. By doing so, you can free up capital to spend how you see fit or save for a rainy day.

In this article, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Automation experts at IntelliChief will cover the types of unprecedented cost savings that can be achieved when your company is running at peak efficiency.

Say Goodbye (and Good Riddance) to Paper

Paper and its related expenses are one of the biggest spending items for a company. Enterprise Content Management greatly decreases costs due to printing, faxing, storing, and otherwise using paper for all types of business transactions.

Replace Costly Physical Storage With Consolidated Digital Storage

Storage is an expense many companies incur for keeping paper documents. If a manual system requires the retention of paper documents, such as accounting records, for a certain number of years, the cost of doing business can rise sharply. These expenses only grow as more physical storage is required, as does the cost of retrieving these documents. ECM eliminates costly storage and consolidates all documents within your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with everything available at the press of a key.

Improve Working Conditions for Your Valued Employees

Labor is one of the largest expenses in most companies. Making copies, manually routing documents, and hunting for lost paper items is time-consuming, inefficient, and repetitive. Companies that can pass of menial tasks to automation tend to have happier employees. These employees are empowered by the use of electronic tools to search for information and complete customer service tasks with ease. Documents move through an electronic workflow system so employees make decisions quickly. Losing information is no longer a costly problem. Employees can collaborate to resolve problems and issues directly from their PC or mobile devices, in any location, working together at the same time for speedy resolution.

Bolster Confidence Among Your Customers

With a manual system, companies need to keep constant track of purchase orders, requisitions, orders, and invoices. Not only is it time-consuming but it also leads to important items falling through the cracks. ECM and Automation improve customer relations because it shortens the time to find information, produces invoices faster, and keeps employees updated for faster turnaround with vendors and customers. It frees up employees to go where they are needed, rather than continuously handling paper to get business done.

You can still receive Purchase Orders, Requisitions, and Orders how yo always have, whether it is a fax, postal mail, email, or Web; however, once these documents enter your system, they will be accessible on-demand whenever and wherever they are required.

Overhaul Accounts Payable for Immense Savings

With Enterprise Content Management, any authorized employee can gain immediate access to all Accounts Payable documents – purchase orders, acknowledgments, receiving documents, invoices, and checks.

A major advantage of using ECM is avoiding lost or missing documents and the costs incurred with a lost document — costing an average of $500 per document to replace. Other major savings by going paperless with Accounts Payable documents include lower costs for printing, postage, faxing, special delivery, and storage.

Electronically managing the Accounts Payable has many benefits:

  • Saving money by taking better advantage of vendor discounts
  • Saving money by using less equipment, furniture, and supplies
  • Saving money and time with immediate access to all Accounts Payable documents
  • Saving time with faster research, better organization, cross filing and matching documents
  • Saving time for employees because of higher accuracy, avoiding manual keying errors, and
  • Utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for quick, accurate search and retrieval of electronic documents

It’s also worth noting that these benefits are largely transferrable to other departments, including Accounts Receivable, Order Entry, and more.

Superior Compliance and Security…Simplified

Regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA requires strong security and specific legal mandates for companies. They have to consider external government regulations and internal security policies as a critical part of doing business. With paperless process management, time limits for retaining documents are easily established. When documents are no longer needed, they can easily be purged according to strict time controls to limit any liability issues.

An Enterprise Content Management system provides security against unauthorized access as well as the accidental or deliberate loss of records. Documents are automatically stored according to company-designed rules and regulations.

Stay Safe With Industry-Leading Disaster Recovery Services

The Gartner Group concludes that two out of five organizations that experience a disaster go out of business within five years. The principal reason: loss of documentation critical to a businesses’ daily function. A paperless process management solution has built-in backup and recovery capabilities in the event of a disaster.

All business processes can be integrated into a Disaster Recovery Plan with paperless process management. All documents can be retrieved as needed from any location.

Want to learn more about decreasing unnecessary expenditures with ECM and automation? Contact IntelliChief today.

The Hard and Soft Dollar Savings of Automation

In theory, making a case to automate your company shouldn’t require much justification at all. Businesses that automate are faster, leaner, and less susceptible to interruptions. Not only do they benefit by pleasing their customers and employees alike but they also save critical dollars that can be used to future-proof their businesses for years to come.  If your main goal is to cut costs and gain a competitive advantage over other businesses in your industry, automation is the answer —and the hard and soft dollar savings ensure that your project generates the ROI you’ve been promised by your vendor.

Hard Dollar Savings

The first category is the hard dollar savings or increased revenue in the operating budget. Hard dollar savings are usually the result of having tangible and identifiable reductions in expenses. These savings include:

Lower Business Operating Costs

Automation drives down business costs by:

  • Substituting electronic repositories for filing cabinets to eliminate long-term storage space
  • Using workflow automation to easily manage high volumes of orders, receiving documents, and invoices
  • Scanning, classifying, recognizing, validating, verifying and exporting data/images quickly, accurately, cost-effectively
  • Providing built-in tools to help avoid late payment penalties, and capture higher percentages of discounts
  • Reducing mailing, postage and shipping costs associated with document delivery, to and from customers or vendors
  • Cutting labor expenses – slashing time for printing, copying, filing, and document research using unsearchable paper
  • Lowering equipment expenses by reducing the need for printers and fax machines, and added maintenance cost

Better Utilization of Personnel

Another benefit of automation is the elimination of menial tasks. Employee productivity increases because they no longer must make copies of documents or look for lost or misplaced files.

It also reduces the need for employees to manually send documents to supervisors to approve expenses and purchase orders. Using automated workflow routing of documents eliminates management time and expenses to manually move documents from one department to the next. They can complete tasks right from their desktop.

Increased Cash Flow

It can also automatically prompt users to take advantage of vendor discounts, and to invoice earlier, faster, and more efficiently. The result is increased cash flow, which allows your company to invest capital in the things that matter most.

Soft Dollar Savings

The second type of cost justification revolves around soft dollar or intangible savings. Benefits are realized, but they may not easily translate as cost reductions.

Increased market share, higher employee retention, and the ability to bring products to market faster are examples of strategic benefits that tend to get ignored in hard-dollar ROI discussions.

Other soft dollar savings include:

Better Customer Service

Immediate access to automated documentation encourages better customer service. Companies that go paperless show improvement in overall customer satisfaction with products and services. Employees have fast access to information to meet customer requests in shorter timeframes.

“Green” Improvements

Environmental savings are realized by bringing a company paperless. According to the Environmental Paper Network, “If the United States cut its office paper use by roughly 10 percent or 540,000 tons, greenhouse gases would fall by 1.6 million tons. This is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.”

Eliminating the printing of multiple documents alone can dramatically cut carbon and energy costs. Lighting, heating, and cooling costs for print equipment are also significantly reduced.

Ready to find out how automated sales order processing can fit into your business? Contact IntelliChief to learn moreor to request a custom demo of our order to cash automation software, click here.

Software Implementation

3 Reasons Why the Software Implementation Phase Will Determine the Long-Term Success of Your Automation Project

Software Implementation

Automating your business processes gives you the opportunity to gain a distinct competitive advantage, but all your hard work can be undone by an inferior implementation or a lackluster integration.

 

“Since the software implementation ended, we’ve literally never used it,” sighs an Accounts Payable Supervisor for a chain of Midwest manufacturing plants.

He sits back in his chair as his eyes slowly rise towards the ceiling.

“We purchased our current solution six months ago because it checked all of our boxes. Unfortunately, we have not had enough help implementing it to actually use it properly. That’s why we called your team.”

Another man, dressed neatly, sits across from him taking notes on a legal pad. “It’s just sitting on the shelf?”

“Well, not literally,” the AP Supervisor laughs. “But it might as well be.”

“Well first, let me start by saying that I’m sorry your business had a poor experience with your last vendor. However, I’m happy to say that we can help! We aren’t going to leave your side until your system is fully functional and you’ve observed an appreciable ROI. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like we’ve got a deal.”

When our Solution Engineers hear horror stories like this from our customers, which, unfortunately, is more often than we care to admit, they are flabbergasted. Whether you’re looking for a simple fix to address a single issue with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or a robust solution to transform your business, it is the vendor’s responsibility to ensure that your purchase is not only integrated securely in your existing work environment but also generating the ROI your company needs to justify its purchase.

When it comes to automation, you cannot afford to waste money on an unusable solution. Comprehensive, industry-leading features are important, but not if they’re locked away behind a wall of complicated code. Therefore, it is paramount that businesses keep implementation and customer service top of mind when shopping for an automation solution.

Caution: Companies Purchase the Wrong Solution All the Time

Let’s face it, shopping for enterprise software isn’t easy. When you start your search, you’re going to be confronted with hundreds, possibly even thousands of software options, but only a handful of those will have the features you’re looking for. Among those, maybe two or three will be compatible with your ERP system or line of business application – if you’re lucky.

It’s not uncommon for a company to purchase the wrong solution. In fact, it happens more often than you might think. Sometimes, it results in a situation similar to the scenario described above. In other cases, a solution might yield positive results but fail to live up to its true potential or the potential of a different solution. There’s an opportunity cost when you implement the wrong software integration, one that can undercut your bottom line for years.

The software implementation phase is your chance to test your system, ask questions, train your employees, and ensure that you have everything you need to successfully automate your company. Here are three reasons why you can’t afford to make a mistake:

Reason #1: Seamless Integrations Require Intimate Familiarity With Your Core Business Processes

Most businesses are seeking a seamless integration with their existing ERP system. In other words, a solution that has been carefully architected by an expert who understands the vulnerabilities of the system, how to work around them, and how to get the highest level of functionality from the integration – but that’s only the beginning. Let’s set aside the technicalities of a seamless software integration and focus on what matters most – your business. You need to be able to answer a lot of questions before you can be certain that your proposed solution is the right fit, chief among them:

Can the solution emulate my core business processes perfectly?

 

At IntelliChief, our Solution Engineers are trained to answer this question, and because IntelliChief has the rare distinction of universal compatibility with all ERP systems and line of business applications, our team’s implementation experience is unparalleled. Here is a brief summary of some of the steps that must be taken for a perfect implementation:

  • Detailed analysis of top vendors, processing time, and opportunities for business process optimization
  • Robust testing and validation of AP automation with top vendors
  • Automated OCR testing using real transactional content
  • Integrated training using live samples in the actual working environment
  • Daily engagements to answer questions and address challenges
  • 30-60-90 milestones to validate independent metrics against testing metrics

Reading #2: Only an Expert Can Provide Evidence of ROI Before Launch

Models and statistics do a fantastic job of conveying what should happen following your software implementation; however, many businesses find that their results differ drastically from their expectations. It requires a unique talent and a gift for working within the fabric of a client’s company to guarantee ROI that meets their goals.

There is only one way to truly know whether your software integration can meet your requirements, and that is by testing it live with your authentic business data. This will give you an unrestricted look at how your solution operates within your existing ERP environment. You will know precisely what to expect on Day 1, ensuring that there are no unexpected surprises as you begin to work faster, smarter, and more accurately than ever before.

Reading #3: Planning for Future Projects Begins During the First Phase of Implementation

Another reason why the software implementation phase is a strong determiner of future success is that it gives you the opportunity to establish a long-term plan. This is one of the major benefits of a software partnership as opposed to a faceless software vendor. There are only a handful of vendors who offer this level of service, IntelliChief residing chiefly among them.

With IntelliChief, you can automate one department (i.e., Accounts Payable), reap the benefits, and then use your new-found capital to continue automating other departments. For example, automating Accounts Receivable is essentially the inverse of automating Accounts Payable, which means you can essentially double your savings. It’s worth noting that a software partnership with an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendor like IntelliChief will give you the ability to scale your solution according to the needs of your growing company.

Are you interested in learning more about the ECM and Automation implementation process? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning team of implementation experts.

 

 

process improvement automation

What Are the Consequences of Canceling an Automation Project?

process improvement automation

Due to the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, executives gearing up to automate their companies are facing a difficult choice – whether to cancel their project or proceed full steam ahead. Quick decisions can have long-term consequences for your business; these are the risks.

 

Business interruptions tend to pop up at the least opportune times. In early 2020, Americans were on track to reap the benefits of the strongest economy in the history of our country. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly swept in, erasing years of economic progress since our country began to rebuild following the Great Recession.

As a result, the economy tanked, millions of jobs were lost, and the future of our country’s business leaders was brought into question. Meanwhile, stock market speculation shifted into bear territory with a series of record Dow Jones point losses on March 16 (-2,997), March 12 (-2,352.60), and March 9 (-2,013.76). For reference, the previous record loss was -838.55 point on September 29, 2008.

Many businesses were forced to make difficult decisions to remain viable, such as whether to pause (or cancel) plans to automate their company. While it’s true that process improvement automation projects can be costly upfront, they can also give businesses the tools they need to remain viable regardless of the type of business interruption keeping them from operating at full capacity.

There’s an opportunity cost for every canceled project, and in the case of process improvement and automation, that opportunity cost can be crippling. Before you cancel your automation software implementation, consider the following risk:

1. The Financial Cost of Cancellation

One of the biggest selling points of process improvement automation is the tremendous ROI to be gained from faster processing with fewer errors. Automation can increase productivity by as much as 90% while ensuring that every opportunity for an early payment discount is secured. Furthermore, in the context of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, it can also eliminate duplicate payments when integrated into an intelligent workflow.

In other words, you do not want to squander your future ROI by cutting ties with a vendor you have already signed an agreement with, especially if you are already several stages into your implementation. Performing exhaustive due diligence is critical to making the right purchase. If you want to make things easy on your company, find a vendor that offers a reliable integration with your core ERP system.

2. Overburdened Employees

Automation can help reduce employee stress by eliminating time-consuming and redundant tasks, giving them more time to focus on big picture projects that have a long-lasting effect on the company. For example, the keying of data into your ERP system is inefficient when performed manually. It is a highly error-prone process that requires several internal confidence checks on the part of the processor. If any of the information is input incorrectly, it could lead to a delayed payment or order – either of which will have a negative effect on your bottom line. When employees are forced to do jobs that are impractical or overly repetitive, it affects morale daily. When these same employees are criticized by management for their work ethic, it raises the question: Is the employee’s performance lacking? Or is the process the problem?

Oftentimes, we find that the process is the true cause of a company’s woes, not the employees. With automation working alongside your employees, you can reach unprecedented levels of productivity while ensuring that your most important assets, your employees, are given the support they need to serve your company for years to come.

3. Loss of Market Share

There is no other competitive advantage quite like process improvement automation. The before-and-after data following an automation software implementation can be staggering. Not only does your company get faster but it also gets smarter and more cost-friendly. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common reasons why companies decide to start looking into process improvement and automation is because they have caught wind of their competitors doing the same.

Now, here is the inescapable truth. And please be warned, it can be a tough pill to swallow. In the future, every company will rely on automation in some capacity. It is not a matter of if but when your competitors will begin to use automation to improve their processes. It is highly likely that some of them have already started. Automation can help you maintain your market share and fend off your competitors by placing a wide functional gap between your capabilities and theirs. The longer you can take advantage of this functional gap, the brighter the future outlook for your company will be.

4. Legal Disputes

Have you already signed a contract with your selected vendor? If so, you could find that canceling your project is a bigger challenge than you initially expected. While not all companies will penalize you for pausing your project, there are many who will. Read your contract carefully before signing; otherwise, you could find yourself on the phone with your lawyer. To avoid a situation like this, seek out a vendor who treats you like a partner and not a customer. At IntelliChief, we are invested in the mutual success of our partner businesses. By helping you meet your goals, we can continue streamlining your business processes and helping you reach your next milestone. In fact, IntelliChief has several capabilities to help your business improve legal compliance, such as Retention Manager, which can automatically schedule purge policies and provide quick audit support.

Whether you are thinking about taking on an automation project or your current project has been placed on indefinite hiatus, our team is standing by to discuss any questions you might have regarding business process automation and successful implementations. Contact IntelliChief today!

Reduce Your Operating Costs With Process Automation

The cost of doing business has been increasing every year – and not by just a few percentage points. Some experts calculate that operating expenses double every 14 years. This makes it increasingly hard to stay competitive.

Of course, as industries change, new tools emerge. Businesses have a number of ways to reduce their operating costs, both now and in the future.

One option? Using technology to handle time-consuming tasks. This not only makes things easier for your employees, but it helps you reduce your expenses in the process.

Choosing Processes to Automate

Many routine processes are good candidates for automation. Software can help reduce the operating costs associated with:

Some companies turn to outsourcing services to help cut these costs. Unfortunately, there are downsides – most notable, poor visibility and a lack of control. But with automation, businesses don’t have to trust these responsibilities to a third party. Companies can still handle them on their own while placing less of a burden on their internal resources.

How Much Can Businesses Save With Automation?

The more you automate, the more you can save. At IntelliChief, we’ve seen companies cut their costs by as much as 70 percent.

It all starts with a comprehensive strategy.

Individually, each of the processes listed above may not seem that costly. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there can quickly add up.

Let’s use invoice processing as an example.

The average business can save $10 (or more) for each invoice they process automatically. At 1,000 invoices per month, that’s a savings of $120,000 per year.

And if that business were to also automate their order processing?

The best companies can process a sales order for just over $5. Meanwhile, inefficient companies spend around $40.87.  That’s a difference of more than $35 per order. Over the course of a year? A business that processes 1,000 orders per month can reduce their annual expenses by $420,000.

An Increase in Business Doesn’t Have to Mean an Increase in Operating Costs

Most companies see an increase in operating costs as they grow. More transactions mean more administrative work – and more employees to keep up.

With automation, though, the economy of scale can make a big difference.

Software can do in seconds what an employee may need several days to complete. As you earn more business, automation lets you handle the increased workload with the resources you already have.

The only caveat: you need to invest in a solution that can solve your current problems, while also accounting for future growth.

Weighing the Cost of an Investment Against the Potential Benefits

When you’re looking to reduce your operating costs, paying thousands of dollars for a solution can seem counterproductive. But for the right technology, your business can easily recover the expense.

In an article for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Stephen O’Hearn states that “the crucial priority isn’t the costs you cut, [but] rather where you focus resources to stimulate growth.” Technology helps you work smarter – as long you spend smarter, too.

The best way to increase your ROI is to find one solution that can work in several areas of your business. This brings down the total cost of ownership.

It’s also important to find a solution that’s simple to use. A new software program can’t do you any good if your employees don’t understand how to use it – or if it makes them abandon their current processes. It can be hard to bring about meaningful change in a business, but when you introduce a solution that makes everyone’s lives easier, they’re more likely to adopt it for the long haul.

How IntelliChief Can Help You Reduce Your Operating Costs

At IntelliChief, we understand how important it is to keep your operating expenses low. We can help you implement cost-saving strategies across your entire business.

Our process automation tool can help you lower your operating costs across Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Finance, Production, Distribution, Customer Service, and even HR. And the financial justification is there: our customers typically achieve a full return on investment in just one year.

Our solutions integrate with the business programs that you already use. This lets you extend the usefulness of your legacy programs – programs that could otherwise be too costly to justify keeping.

To learn more about reducing your operating costs with IntelliChief’s business automation software, contact us today. Or, visit our Resource Library to see how other businesses have implemented our cost-saving measures in real life.