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ROI of AP Automation

How to Build a Business Case for AP Automation

The accounts payable process is often neglected in many businesses. However, the value of an accounts payable department and the accounts payable process is beyond compare. Contrary to popular belief, the accounts payable process of a business is about much more than just making payments to suppliers. Accounts payable automation can have a lot of benefits for businesses, such as reducing costs, saving time, growing revenues, enhancing supplier relationships, etc. Although automation in accounts payable process can have all these benefits and many more, many businesses are still lagging in adopting an automated system.

For these businesses, it is important to build a business case for AP automation. This can be achieved in four simple steps, as below.

1.   Defining the requirements

As a first step, businesses must define their requirements. This can be done by assessing the current accounts payable process of the business and identifying areas that are manual and repetitious. While accounts payable automation software can fulfill many needs of a business, it should be tailored according to the needs of the business to be truly efficient. Once the accounts payable process is assessed by the management, they should have an idea of which areas of the process they want to automate. Similarly, the management should also have an idea of what their expectations are from AP automation.

This process requires the management to properly evaluate the accounts payable process of the business. However, the management of the business should involve the accounts payable department in the process as well, as, ultimately, they will be dealing with the automated system.

2.   Researching the requirements

Once the requirements of the business are established, it is important to perform proper research regarding the requirements. Research is an important part of any process as it allows for better decision-making. Proper research can help build a strong business case for AP automation.

The research should consider some financial aspects of the process. For example, management should research the costs related to the existing systems and compare them to the costs once the process is automated. These costs can be further broken down into a single area of the accounts payable process or how much it costs the business to process a single invoice.

Besides, the research must also consider non-financial aspects of the process. For example, the research should consider how many invoices are processed during a set period and compare it to the automated process. Similarly, the research should take into account how the efficiency of the accounts payable cycle will improve to AP automation. To get an idea of how AP Automation can be implemented, visit

3.   Identify stakeholder needs

The accounts payable automation should consider the need of all stakeholders. These stakeholders are parties within the business, and outside of it, that will be affected by the automation in accounts payable. This process should cater to the needs of all stakeholders.

For example, the employees of the business that will be affected by the automation must be catered to. Some employees may not understand the automated accounts payable process and would, therefore, need to be trained.

Similarly, the need for other departments of the business that will be affected by the project should also be considered. These will include departments such as the finance, procurement, and IT. The needs of external stakeholders such as the suppliers of the business will also need to be considered.

4.   Calculating the Return On Investment (ROI)

Once all the research has been conducted and the needs of different stakeholders are considered, it is necessary to calculate the return on the investment the business will get due to the adoption of automation in accounts payable. It should be fairly easy to calculate an ROI for the process if proper research has been conducted.

To calculate the return on investment on the project, all the costs that were researched in the research phase should be taken. These will include costs such as costs related to training employees, future upgrade costs, maintenance costs, license costs, etc.

Once the costs of the project are calculated, the savings due to the automation in accounts payable should be calculated. The savings can be in the form of employees’ time saved due to automation, savings due to the efficiency in process, savings due to better supplier relations, etc.

Businesses can also use an online calculator such as to calculate the ROI for the project.

Performing the above four steps properly should ensure that there is a strong business case for AP automation.


Accounts payable process can have many benefits for a business. However, many businesses still use paper-based accounts payable process. For these businesses, it is important to build a strong business case for AP automation. This can be done in a 4-step process. This process starts with defining the requirements and then researching those requirements. Once these steps are taken care of, the needs of different stakeholders are also identified. Finally, the Return on Investment is calculated to build a business case for automation in accounts payable.