New Accounts Payable Starter Checklist

Congratulations on your new accounts payable starter role! The first few weeks of a new job are often tricky no matter the industry- we’ve all been there. Between finding your feet, grappling with office politics, and proving yourself, it takes a lot to set yourself up for success.  

It’s a smart idea to have a think about what you, and your company, want from your new role. Are you aiming to tighten costs, make the team more efficient, provide more spend visibility, or stop staff buying without approval?   

Have You Considered Accounts Payable Automation?

Something you can do to set you up for success in all these areas is to implement purchase order automation software. Accounts payable Automation teams who automate purchase orders significantly improve efficiency, accuracy, and overall financial management, what’s not to love?! This guide will walk you through the steps of transitioning from a manual or clunky accounts payable process, to a more automated and streamlined one.  We'll set you up for success so you can bring it up to your boss if you're a new accounts payable starter. Alternatively, the guide's also useful if you're established in your career and need funding for your AP automation project.

First Things First:

To open the conversation, start by focusing on the benefits of automating and what this might mean for the company: 

  • Enhanced Efficiency: Automating purchase orders eliminates the need for manual data entry and paperwork, saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors.  
  • Accuracy and Consistency: Automated systems reduce human error, ensuring that information is entered consistently and accurately across all transactions.  
  • Approval Workflows: Software with built-in customisable approval workflows ensure that purchases follow the appropriate authorisation channels.  
  • Audit Trail: Automated systems keep a clear digital record of all transactions, thus making audits smoother and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.  
  • Supplier Relationships: Streamlined processes lead to faster approvals and payments, helping maintain better relationships with vendors.  
  • Cost Savings: By eliminating paper-based processes and minimising errors, the company can save money on resources, time, and potential penalties.  

Your Current AP Process:

Once you’ve established the benefits and can picture how the future might look, you should investigate your current processes to ensure it’s possible.  If you're a new accounts payable starter it's a good idea to ask your team lots of questions about how things work. This will speed up the process of analysing the way your company currently runs the AP function.

  • Assess: Understand the current accounts payable processes. Identify pain points, bottlenecks, and areas where automation will make the most significant impact.  
  • Research: Explore different purchase order automation software options available on the market. Look for features such as approval workflows, integration capabilities, reporting functionalities, and user-friendly interfaces.  
  • Analyse: Prepare a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis that demonstrates the potential cost savings and efficiency gains from implementing the software. This will help justify the investment to management and back up your points with hard facts.

If you’re faced with pushback, it's always good to have a few comebacks up your sleeve. Not everyone embraces change, even if it’s for the best, because change is often viewed as unsettling. Getting your justifications in order could be the difference between getting the go-ahead or plodding along as you are.  

Considerations and Justifications: 

  • Cost vs. Benefit: Highlight the initial investment cost against the long-term benefits, emphasising the potential for cost savings, increased productivity, and reduced errors.  
  • Time Savings: Explain how automation reduces the time spent on manual tasks, allowing the finance team to focus on strategic activities that drive the company's growth.  
  • Scalability: Discuss how the software can grow with the company, accommodating increased volumes and adapting to the changing business needs.  
  • Risk Mitigation: Emphasise the audit trail and compliance benefits, which reduces financial discrepancies and helps the company adhere to regulations. 
  • Employee Satisfaction: Mention that automation leads to higher employee satisfaction by removing mundane tasks resulting in a more engaging and fulfilling work environment.  

You’ve Got the Go-Ahead!  

So, you understand the current processes, and have management onboard, it’s now time to begin the transformation! Our onboarding team at Zahara has completed thousands of customer implementations in our time. We've gathered what we think are the most important steps to cover, in the following order.  

  1. Software Selection: Based on your research and analysis, choose a purchase order automation software that aligns with the company's needs and budget.  
  2. Customisation: Configure the software to match the company's existing processes and requirements. Define the approval matrix, set the approval conditions for multi-step workflows and decide on users and their roles. You may choose to outsource this to the software’s onboarding team if you have the budget.
  3. Data Migration: If transitioning from manual processes, migrate existing data to the new system. This is a good point to data cleanse too, all those 5+ year-old suppliers can absolutely be archived, ensure only relevant data is moved to your new software! 
  4. Testing: This is key! Don’t skip this step and ensure you allocate enough time to it. This is your opportunity to refine and adjust settings to make it work for you.  We’ve found this works best when you involve a small group too. 
  5. Training: Provide training sessions to employees who will be using the software. Highlight features, benefits, and how it integrates into their daily tasks. The key to success is getting users on board. 
  6. Pilot Phase: Start with a pilot phase involving a limited number of transactions and users. This allows you to identify any potential issues and adjust before full implementation.  


After successful completion of these six stages, you should be up and running with your new AP software, congratulations! Get ready to make the most of the cost and time savings, and enjoy the fruits of your efforts! The best way to establish yourself in your new accounts payable starter role is to bring efficiency to the team. If you do have any concerns, you can contact the Zahara team here 


Accounts Payable Automation: Best Practices for Beginners


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