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Evaluating Accounts Payable Workflow Solution Providers

Making step-change improvements to Accounts Payable processes requires a rigorous approach that considers the end-to-end process that spans order initiation, order receipt and fulfillment from the supplier, receipt of goods or performance of services, and finally completing with payment to the supplier with the resolution of any discrepancies, rebates or refunds.  For processing, many small dollar transactions are perfect for a purchasing card, and others can be automated using Evaluated Receipt Settlement (ERS) Pay-on-Receipt, or electronic invoice processing.   Accounts Payable workflow – defined as the many individual activities that are need to complete a payment – includes many channels for processing, and often has a focus on work activities that are associated with automating paper invoice processing via scanning, imaging, and, in some instances, the use of optical character recognition (OCR) technology. 

A Peeriosity member at a large diversified global company that was considering alternatives for automating Accounts Payable processes using workflow technology wanted to leverage the experience of other companies. To get answers quickly from knowledgeable peers, the member used Peeriosity’s iPollingTM to create a question for members, with real-time posting of poll results and the ability for the member to see immediately who responded, what company and region they represent, with the opportunity to contact individual respondents directly using Peeriosity’s built-in communication tool, Peer MailTM

The iPollingTM question created by the Peeriosity member asked for specifics regarding which 3rd party supplier, if any, was being used, with a follow up question to see how satisfied each company was with the solution they had selected.  Results for the first question indicate that for 29% of member companies workflow capabilities of their ERP software (typically SAP or Oracle) are utilized  without the use of other 3rd party software solutions.  Another 14% use custom in-house software, with 14% using a purchased solution that they don’t specifically identify.  When we consider named purchased 3rd party solutions, the market appears to be crowded with eight different solutions used by member companies, with OpenText, Onbase, and ReadSoft as the top three.   Here are the details:

While there are many possible solutions, when considering the overall satisfaction of member companies with the current solution in place, only 67% were either satisfied or very satisfied, with 26% either indifferent or unsatisfied.  An additional 7% of member companies indicated that it was too early to tell.

Making improvements to Accounts Payable work processes requires a range of approaches to understanding the underlying nature of the transaction and whether or not associated payment details and, specifically, invoice information can be eliminated or automated.  While there are pros and cons to every approach, an important part of developing the right answer for your company is to carefully consider the real life experiences of your peers when selecting and implementing workflow tools.  While every vendor will have a good sales pitch, the truth is that there are substantive differences that need to be understood as you make your decisions about Accounts Payable workflow solutions. 

Here are a few of the comments added by iPollingTM participants:

  • We built invoice workflow directly into our SAP/ERP system.
  • We implemented OpenText in 2013 for NA and 2014 for Europe. We have been extremely pleased with the results.
  • We have been using Dolphin for the past 5 years and are satisfied with the workflow tool.
  • We have developed workflows in house using Onbase (Hyland software tool).
  • We only use Ariba for vendor master data in SAP. We use DART, a Xerox product for invoice processing and payment.
  • Currently, we use a homegrown custom workflow in SAP. We are investigating moving to a 3rd party workflow.
  • We use the inherent workflow in SAP, and Oracle and Ariba for invoice exception resolution.
  • We have started to use OnBase Workflow integrated with our existing Oracle software solutions. In early stages, but happy with results thus far.
  • We use the OpenText modules for SAP Invoice Management (VIM) as well as their OCR module. We have been live in Europe and North America since 2012.
  • We use PeopleSoft Workflow for our indirect processing.
  • We have just begun exploring options for AP workflow in our shared service. We’ve created a proof of concept for one specific error handling process using the Pega BPM tool to integrate offline actions with the financial posting in our ERP. I am interested to see the feedback from your survey.
  • We are in the process of evaluating the different solution providers.
  • We developed an in-house solution with a company called Digital Designs.
  • We use a two tools: a home built workflow tool called AP Online (used for approval routing) and RAPID which is the invoice processing tool of our BPO provider IBM. Both are old and clunky, but generally work.

What solution does your company use for Accounts Payable workflow?  How satisfied are you with the solution that you have selected?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated e-mail system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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