“We’re surprised at how easy it is.”

One of the things The 2016 New Zealand Accounts Payable Benchmark Report  showed us is that, while many New Zealand businesses are aware of the considerable limitations of manually processing AP invoices, plenty of them see challenges in replacing those processes with an automated solution.

When asked to predict their biggest challenge in AP processing over the next three years, report respondents told us it was eliminating manual intervention, implementing automation with limited ROI, and so on. One particular response stood out: “Training of staff to use the online system.”

That response brought a smile to the face of Jenny Kahi, who runs streamline’s customer service helpdesk. Jenny trains new users of our cloud-based AP solution, PlusOne and she tells us that those new users, both those processing and those approving invoices, are just about always astonished at how simple PlusOne is to adopt.

“Training can be online or face-to-face and it’s usually in groups of between two and seven people,” Jenny says. “Whatever the format, the training session takes no more than 90 minutes and the customer then has all the skills they need to confidently use the system.”

If they wish, new users can practise their PlusOne skills in a pre-production module. They also have access to the helpdesk, but Jenny says the solution is intuitive and she gets surprisingly few requests. “After a month it’s generally me checking in with them, rather than the other way around,” she says.

“Almost always they tell me they’re surprised how easy it is.”

That’s good news for Jenny, who has plenty of other responsibilities at streamline. And even better news for PlusOne users, who are learning that learning a new and better way of doing business doesn’t have to be painful.

The biggest challenge in AP processing? it’s the humans

When the results of  The 2016 New Zealand Accounts Payable Benchmark Report  came in recently, heads began nodding in the streamline office.

Why? Because the report very quickly confirmed something we’ve learned already from talking with back office professionals: for very many businesses, human error is the number one challenge in accounts payable processing.

Thirty-five percent of benchmark participants told us they expect their biggest AP process challenge over the next three years will be one of the familiar problems of manual invoice processing. The most frequently cited problem: unnecessary mistakes, including keying errors, incorrect invoices, the wrong bank account details and inaccurate accounts coding.

That’s what got our heads nodding.

We talk to AP departments every day, most often because they’re looking closely at adopting our automated AP processing solution, PlusOne. Fully a third of them mention human errors as a problem. Wrong invoice numbers. Books not adding up. You know the sort of thing.

Some people talk about losing hours and even days on tracking down errors.

Our view: we are, all of us, only human. Mistakes happen and they happen more often in manual systems. Malice is never the cause; we’re only as good as our own fat fingers.

The good news is that there an answer. PlusOne comes with a guarantee of 99 percent accuracy and, to date, we’ve never had a claim against that guarantee. PlusOne uses logical validation – it calculates the combined net, freight and tax costs and compares them to the invoice gross. If the numbers don’t match, the streamline back office team reviews the invoice on an exception basis.

It just works. That accuracy is one of PlusOne’s key benefits. Without all those hours and days wasted on re-work, our customers can get on with business. And that, at the end of the day, is what we all want.