Is your team working remotely?  See how DX Cloud gives them instant access to the files they need.
Trends in DMS

Automating Your AP Document Management: Is it Worth It?

In 2022, DeliverIt Pharmacy shaved weeks off their approvals process, increased financial record accuracy, and spent a whole lot less on gasoline (no, really) by changing how they manage AP documents.

October 4, 2022

Pile of disorganized accounting books

Frustrated by manual AP processes? You’re not alone.

Jenny Wong used to spend her work day driving all over town. The accounts payable manager for DeliverIt Pharmacy picked up orders and invoices, and secured approvals by hopping in her Rav4 and zipping between DeliverIt’s four locations in greater Houston. 

“It was quite a long process. I’m gonna say it used to take me about a good week to get everything put together and verified,” she tells us. And she always felt behind.

We recently saw accounts payable work—specifically AP document management—described as full of “friction-rich business processes”. That’s a fancy way of saying “frustrating and inefficient”, but it’s accurate nonetheless.

In a 2020 survey of 250 CFOs in mid- to large-sized companies, it was estimated that the average finance team spends 520 hours per year of labor on routine tasks that are easily automated. That’s 13 work weeks. Between invoice processing, receipt management, PO matching, and vendor payments, manual AP processes take time and—finance teams know better than anyone—time is money. Jenny decided to see what she could do about it.

The importance of a customized document management solution

Moving AP document management online was an obvious choice, but Jenny needed to make sure that her suggestion would work for DeliverIt. Any paperless AP management she proposed had to:

  • Manage receipts and invoices
  • Speed up payments, invoicing, and approvals
  • Verify AP documentation accurately
  • Reduce data entry errors
  • Process AP documents with consistent methods
  • Save files related to transactions, e.g. POs, checks, signed contracts

And it all had to happen in a way that made sense to DeliverIt employees, with minimal disruption to their day-to-day work. 

DeliverIt Pharmacy is a family business started by two married pharmacists in the Houston area. Over the years, they’ve expanded to three pharmacy locations and one infusion location. 

As Jenny describes it, “We have a bit of everything within our facility. It’s 360-degree service.”

DeliverIt serves the community at four locations and also provides some home care services—and it offers service in seven different languages. While this variety of locations and services creates a comprehensive business offering, it also increases the complexity of their AP documentation needs. 

Tips for automating AP document management: DeliverIt’s approach

In her research, Jenny found that most document management software for accounting is fairly inflexible, has hidden additional costs for extra features, and tends to be designed for enterprise-level organizations and budgets. Investing in automated document management, for small businesses, can feel overwhelming without the right support and tools. She wanted to get a clear picture of what a Document Management System (DMS) could do for DeliverIt and chose an approach that allowed her to implement changes at her own pace.

Using a customized proof-of-concept pilot program, Jenny could see how the changes would impact her AP documentation processes before buying. She started with one of DeliverIt’s multiple delivery companies as a sample case.

“It gave us a glimpse of how it would look for our company, and it helped us in making sure that it was the right process for us,” she says. 

“I thought, OK, yes, this is what we’re looking for. This is how we want it.”

As a best practice, Jenny started by automating AP processes one location at a time. This allowed her to train staff and identify any issues in one pharmacy, before moving on to the other two, and eventually also the infusion center.

So, was document management automation worth it?

For DeliverIt, it was the right move. 

So far, Jenny has seen these improvements:

  • Faster payments to vendors
  • Real-time access to documents as they’re scanned on location (no more driving around)
  • Faster AP approvals and verifications 

“It has helped me provide payments more efficiently, more on time,” she says, adding that her coworkers appreciate it, too. 

“I’m not calling them constantly, like, ‘Hey, where is my documentation?’” As a bonus, Jenny’s boss took notice of her initiative and smart change management. So, not only does she have more time in her day, but she’s set herself up as a strategic partner. 

Nearly a year after their initial switch, DocuXplorer continues to support Jenny when she has a question and offer tips to improve her efficiency in the platform.

The next steps for DeliverIt’s paperless AP management future include implementing more automatic accounting workflows and incorporating digital signatures

Considering automation for AP document management? 

DeliverIt’s story offers some universal lessons for professionals looking to make their AP documentation processes more efficient:

  1. Make sure you understand exactly what is included in any DMS and if there are additional costs for extra features.
  2. No business is exactly like yours. Ask potential DMS vendors how their solution fits with your specific needs.
  3. Manage the change. It makes sense to start small and scale slowly so you’re able to deal with hiccups on a small scale before expanding.
  4. Ensure that your DMS provider offers comprehensive support throughout and after implementation.
  5. Be prepared to look good to your boss. You just saved your company a lot of money.