According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, “mysteries demand experience and insight … they are receiver dependent, they turn on the skills of the listener.” So how does this play out in business and everyday life?
I remember when, just out of college, I was invited to one of the Big 8 Accounting Firms parties with a bunch of accountants, CPA’s and the like. As an Art History and Sociology major, the idea of spending an evening with a bunch of number crunchers was not at the top of my list of things to do. But having promised a friend I would go as his date, I found myself in a sea of bean counters.
Turns out the folks at the party were pretty interesting. Good story tellers and listeners. In fact, as a lover of mysteries, I was intrigued that we had something in common… we got a buzz out of solving problems. We aren’t talking easy problems, but more complex ones where you need to uncover a number of clues which seem to have no connection until they lead you to the answer. Mysteries. Sometimes the answer is really hiding in plain view. And I never knew Sherlock Holmes was an accountant!
One way that streamlining your AP processes leads to greater productivity is by getting people to manage the difficult problems, (which they find interesting), while the easy stuff is processed straight through. Automation should lead to greater visibility into the process for both internal and external customers, so problems get solved quickly, your staff’s experience and insight can be put to their proper use, and time and resources are freed up for more strategic initiatives.
If you’re making the decision to outtask your AP Process and your goal is to lower costs, free up staff/resources and cut processing time, you should consider working with a vendor who can provide this type of service and can archive the e-invoice as well. Making a business case should be straightforward since there will be no significant up-front capital expense required and recurring processing costs will be lower than your current process.
Your AP staff will focus on what they do best, i.e. quickly solve problems through greater visibility across the entire process, so you can focus on your strategic initiatives. As a result you’ll enable better spend control and capture early payment discounts in addition to gaining bottom line savings from automation. And you just solved the mystery of how you turn AP from a cost center to a profit center.