AP automation: Ease of use and ERP integrations top the list

Simplicity of use, good pricing, and ease of integration with ERP systems have risen to the top of the purchase criteria list.

Those were the findings of a recent Payables Insight Report in which Levvel Research surveyed more than 250 finance and accounting decision makers to find out, among other things, how important certain features and characteristics are when considering AP automation solutions.

More than half of respondents from nearly all size segments rated the attributes above as “most important.”

It’s not surprising to see pricing as a priority. Budgets are tight and most of these decision makers are looking to automation solutions to help further reduce costs in their departments. However, many of the features we hear vendors tout most often – emerging technologies, mobility, industry-tailored – were all out-favored by making things easy.

AP solution criteria

Take it easy

For small, medium and large enterprises alike, “ease of use” is the most important criteria when evaluating AP automation solutions. According to Levvel Research, “Ease of use” is highly valued for a few reasons.

For one, usability is key to ensuring high adoption and employee productivity – two key ingredients for automation ROI. If end users can’t swiftly adapt to the new technology and processes, organizations won’t be able to achieve the efficiency goals that drove the automation purchase in the first place.

Also contributing to ease of use are user experience and user interface, which together were important purchase criteria for just under half of all survey respondents.

To make things easy, some AP automation solutions feature streamlined, modern designs. Others take an ERP-oriented approach, making their UI similar to that of the organization’s primary ERPs, which can expedite adoption because users are already comfortable with its look and feel.

Come together

The third-highest criterion considered by AP automation shoppers is the ability to integrate with an ERP. For the enterprise segment, however, it is the most important of all potential criteria. Large organizations valued integration at twice the rate of small and medium-sized enterprises, and far more than mid-market organizations.

Why is getting along with the ERP so important?

Large enterprises are not only more likely to have an ERP in place, but for most of them, the ERP is at the center of business operations. In accounts payable, the ERP is the main system of record for all vendor data, purchase orders and payment information – often across multiple locations.

In other words, the ERP isn’t going anywhere. Organizations looking to optimize AP processes with automation need solutions that will complement their core IT systems. Automation solutions that don’t integrate well with the ERP can cost organizations additional time, dollars and resources in creating custom workarounds, on top of missed process efficiency and productivity gains.

Ready to learn more? To access the complete Levvel Research 2019 Payables Insight Report, click here.

Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate paper-based processes and improve operations across accounting and finance, human resources, and contract management. Danielle joined Hyland after more than six years with a research and advisory firm devoted to helping senior executives manage their departments and teams more effectively. She received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and her MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate... read more about: Danielle Simer