“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”… or should we?

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I have often heard the phrase “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” when discussing accounts payable automation with many different levels of finance professionals who can’t see the problems caused by manually processing invoices when compared to an automated process.

Whilst leaving processes running the way they have been for the past 10 to 20 years is much simpler than undergoing a streamlining project, it could be costing your company hundreds of thousands of pounds per year. In fact, according to our whitepaper “Transforming supplier invoice processing into a competitive advantage” a company processing 30,000 invoices per year could see over £200,000 in savings when compared to a manual process.

When it comes to a compelling business case, the biggest factor will usually be cost. This can be split into several different categories: Time, Mistakes, Environment, Office Space, and People.


Automated processes are, by their very nature, much more time efficient than manual processes. A piece of software can scan and read a document much faster than a human, and, with Intelligent Capture Recognition (ICR), will remember and understand everything that it has read. This, paired with machine learning to refine each process, can process invoice over eight times faster than a manual process (Increasing from 50 per person per day to 400).


Misreading, mistyping, allocating to the wrong code, sending the document to the wrong person (or department) for approval, submitting the same document twice, and even losing or destroying the document are common place mistakes easily made by humans. When utilising Robotic Process Automation (RPA), these errors will never happen, unless of course the human that creates the workflows makes a mistake! Mistakes mean time and as we all know, time means money.


A lot of time is given these days to the affects us humans are having on our beloved planet earth, especially since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II in which he shares the devastating effect we have had on life in the ocean (whole coral reef’s becoming bleached etc). Automation and the digitalization of documents means a drastic reduction in paper consumption and fuel for transportation. These environmental benefits come with other perks such as saving time (it’s much faster to email than to send in the post), and of course, saving money as you no longer need to service printers or bulk buy paper and postage stamps.

Office Space

No, I’m not talking about the 1999 comedy film staring Ron Livingstone and Jennifer Aniston[ii] (which, by the way, I recommend you watch if you haven’t seen it already), I mean the actual space in your office. If you deal with lots of documents, you must then have the inconvenience to have to store them, either on site or off site. Either way, you will be spending money on that space, through ground rent, heating (if part of your office), and lighting costs. Instead you could be using that space to give your employees a little more desk space, or even transform larger storage areas into meeting rooms and enclosed offices.


When automation is brought up in conversation, someone will inevitable pipe in “automation is destroying jobs”. Whilst it is true that automation is taking away menial tasks from humans, it is mostly thought that it will open the doors to more meaningful (and valuable) tasks such as organising early payment discounts with suppliers and chasing suppliers that frequently leave PO’s off invoices (yes, these kinds of analytics are available with automation). This implementation could give you the availability to upskill your workforce and promote from within without the need to replace your clerks, saving the department tens of thousands in salaries year on year.



To conclude, there are many more benefits to reviewing, perfecting, and updating your processes than there are to keep the status quo and sometimes what you think is working smoothly, could in fact be prohibiting the progress of your company’s bank balance, as well as your work force. To find out more about other reasons to automate, join us for our webinar “The Importance of Building a Strong Business Case” on 12/06/2018 at 13:00 BST.


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Post by Francesca Timpson