What Every CFO Needs To Know When Adding Invoice Automation To Their Organization

July 23, 2019

Travis McCallum


100 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations became a reality after the League of Covenant was adopted at the Paris Peace Conference. This marked the beginning of a New Age of collaboration, and the 28th U.S. President would spend many months rallying Americans across the country to adopt this new world of diverse connectivity.

We have now entered another agreement to include software bots in our lives. Bots whom work in tandem alongside us to further goals, making work better and more meaningful.

Still, the adoption of invoice automation (IA) and robotic process automation (RPA) has been slow, thanks to its varying complexity of understanding and proper execution. For a full overview of IA, I recommend you read our eBook.

For the Chief Financial Officers, Comptrollers and Accounts Payable Departments interested in creating their own IA solution, here are some tips to help you bring RPA to life.

Slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be

In my earlier article on finding the right invoice automation partner for you, I had asked if a vendor’s process aligns with your own.  Ask yourself: Do you even have a process in place? In a traditional invoice processing scenario, your AP person is collecting the invoice via email or paper copy and then uploading it to your ERP line item by line item.

But have you outlined these steps in your documentation?

Any new solution implementation has its own checklist of tasks that need to be run through in sequential order. In the discovery phase, you might need to put on the brakes and audit the existing process and refine it for efficiency.

It takes on average 4-6 weeks of engagement from a technical perspective. That extends to 1-3 months once you factor in:

  • Programming the code
  • Testing and quality assurance
  • Training staff on IA usage
  • User Authentication Management (UAM)
  • New developments in workflow requirements

This might seem a long time but compare it to the 12-18 month window for most IT projects and RPA becomes more attractive. 

Slowly is the fastest way to get where you want to be

IA is meant to augment your existing process; not redefine how your organization currently runs things.  It might shed clarity on some steps you are currently taking with suggestive recommendations.  But without an existing framework to amplify, IA does nothing in a vacuum.

Before implementation of RPA, ensure you:

  • Create and manage a master vendor file (including federal ID numbers)
  • Know what your Key Performance Indicators are (KPIs) for vendor performance
  • Digitize your data for transparency and easy search
  • Plan for exceptions

According to Ardent Partners, the top AP pressures is the percentage of exceptions which slow processing to a crawl.  There are both formal and fundamental exceptions processed which often require approval from sometimes the CFO himself. 

If you aren’t sure whether your existing process is working, don’t fret. Process consultants know their stuff and can advise you on the best course of actions.

Have A Plan For Resource Allocation

IA is a gamechanger, no doubt about that. Removing repetitive work gives way to productivity, cost savings, quality, customer service and so much more. Now you have a new challenge to contend with: How will your employees spend the extra free time they’ve been allotted?

If there’s one thing robots cannot replicate, it’s the human emotion element that well, makes us human. Not all vendor relationships are equal and there will be ongoing conversations staff will need to manage to ensure healthy longevity. For example, there may be negotiations where vendors might reduce payment percentages in exchange for a faster payment.

And while IA will reduce human error in data entry, bookkeeping duties for double entries will still be an invaluable step in approval and quality assurance. In the immediate present, AP staff will still schedule and prepare checks for payment. However, RPA is quickly expanding into payment systems like Quickbooks.


Invoice Automation does not happen overnight. It takes strategic planning with flexible adjustments. Technology is accelerating exponentially, according to Moore’s Law. And any smart CFO knows if their organization doesn’t adapt to the inevitable change, they will lag behind their competitors. Invest in your future with Eleviant Technologies, a partner who will keep you on top of the cutting edge of software.

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