Automate This Episode #04: Empathy for AP, part 1
Automate This #04: Empathy for AP, part one
Subscribe to Automate This on your favorite podcast provider & never miss an update!
Accounts payable can be accrual world, and AP is generally a misunderstood function within an organization. Without this understanding, it becomes difficult to empathize with the people who work there and the problems that they have to overcome on a daily basis. For this 2-part episode, in an effort to shed some light on this back-office function and help us all walk a mile in their shoes, Helee Lev and Ryan Nelson explain the inspiration behind Goby’s accounts payable cartoon, Automate This. New cartoons are posted every Friday!
Read the podcast transcript:
HELEE: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Automate This; the podcast for conversations about accounts payable and beyond. Today is episode four, part one of the two-part podcast where we are going to empathize with the AP practitioner and walk a mile in their shoes. I’m Helee Lev, CRO at Goby.
RYAN: And I’m Ryan Nelson, Chief Operating Officer at Goby. Thanks Helee for the introduction of today. The way that we are going to approach this empathizing with the AP practitioner is to I guess it’s to our benefit a little bit. We’re going to promote our cartoon, Automate This. And we’re not promoting it, we’re going to dive into the history of how and why individual cartoons were created and I think what will interest people…
HELEE: Wait, wait, wait! So you’re saying Automate This is also a cartoon, not just a podcast?
RYAN: That’s right. It’s more an idea and it’s an abstract intangible to inspire and empathize with the AP practitioner, if you will.
RYAN: So we’ve put together, we’ve categorized these cartoons and you know we’re taking this a little bit lightly kind of the holiday time. We’re hoping to have some fun here and revisit some of these laughs and you know hopefully others will be able to relate. So we’re going to talk about a few things here that really they fit into misunderstanding AP. That’s kind of the theme of these and feel free to branch out from that, but imagine the first one, okay? Imagine this. There’s a person, a gentleman sitting outside an office, looks like he is waiting for an interview. He’s got a Gap hoodie on, he’s got a Gap, you know the store Gap?
HELEE: Mhmm. I do recall.
RYAN: You get all your stuff there probably, right?
HELEE: I mean I frequented some malls you know in the middle school.
RYAN: Yes, as did I. Yes. Okay. So he got a Gap hoodie on, a Gap baseball cap, just a Gap bag, he has got all this stuff. The CFO is looking out of her office and she’s whispering to the administrator who set this interview up with this gentleman. She’s saying, “Nope, not the kind of GAAP expert I’m looking for.” But you guessed it, she’s saying G-A-A-P; Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. And he was confused for someone who is an expert with the clothing store Gap so obviously hilarious.
RYAN: Hilarious. Credit to GR, by the way.
HELEE: Very clever gentleman.
RYAN: A Goby heir, I’ll leave it at that. But I don’t know what to take from that other than again the misunderstanding. There is a lot of very specific terminology in accounting and financing and AP world so we thought we’d have a little fun with that.
HELEE: Yeah. And I think as you said, all these cartoons are inspired by real life happenings and real life scenarios and real life situations that we just happen to find the comedy in.
RYAN: So I enjoyed that. Another one we have here. I thought this was great. We’ll just say credit to RN on this one, leave it at that, but I’m not sure everyone got it. There’s this map on the wall, okay? There’s a map on the wall and it says, “Bill Wilder Account” and it’s got this process flow and it’s just showing that an invoice was rejected because the amount was wrong. So it says, “Bill” the invoice, it says on here, “Bill rejected by Bill.”
HELEE: Ah because that’s also his name.
RYAN: That’s right. And this gentleman is looking at it going, “Wow, that must’ve been difficult for Bill” because he kind of rejected himself, but he had to. He saw this as like, “I gotta reject Bill…”
HELEE: That’s deep.
RYAN: But his name’s Bill. I don’t think it’s deep. Well, yeah I guess it is kind of deep.
HELEE: No. I think it’s dark.
RYAN: But I don’t know what lesson there is to be learned there. It’s just process flow and approval engines and general AP living and empathizing on dealing with invoice exceptions which is something everybody lives every day. So moving on from there, another credit to GR here; one of our fine cartoon joke writers. The CFO is sitting at her desk. She is looking at her computer screen, it says, “Compliant” with a checkmark, right on her screen, “Compliant, yes. Done.” She’s really kind of kicked back. She has no shoes on. Her bare feet are there and she’s saying, “It’s just wonderful not having to worry about SOX anymore.” Another play on words, she’s saying S-O-X. Coincidentally, she has no shoes on.
HELEE: Yeah, I got it.
RYAN: But she’s not worried about Sarbanes-Oxley because of the technology in platforms and systems that she has in place. So again, the fun with the nuance, not nuance, but the language of finance and accounting, if you will.
HELEE: Should we have piqued your interest enough at this juncture and you would like to visualize with your own eyes the cartoon, not just have Ryan explain them to you, the handle is #automatethis and you can find it on any social media channel. So do follow along, but we will continue to describe them for you.
RYAN: I’m going to walk you through one more misunderstanding AP here and then Helee I’m going to let you walk us through one. I’m going to talk about this young gentleman in a stocking hat who had just opened a piece of mail and this mail that he opened is escargot. And he’s saying, “Literally, snail mail.”
HELEE: I don’t know. I don’t know about that one.
RYAN: Oh, come on. What’s extra funny about this one is kind of a two-pronged thing here. We’re poking at the use today of “literally” although we had a whole thing on that. We figured out that what? Like the fourth definition is whatever, but anyway we’re poking at the use of “literally” by this person and they received snail mail that actually snails.
HELEE: Yeah. I’m not sure that the issue with that one is understanding it correctly.
RYAN: Touché. Touché. Anyway it’s hilarious. Why don’t you walk us through this next one?
HELEE: I might. I might. All right. So in this next one, and I do hope you’re following along because they are funny to see. Again, shameless plug, #automatethis all social media channels, have a look. So in this image, you have a gentleman behind a desk and he is covered in bills, paper bills, no automation, stack of bills. There’s a couple falling off of his desk onto the floor and he looks really dismal, just really hopeless and the caption is, “AP can be accrual world.” Get it? Get it?
RYAN: Yep. Yep. Yep. Good old GR again…
HELEE: That’s good.
RYAN: On that one?
HELEE: Yeah. That is GR at his almost finest, but I won’t spoil that one.
RYAN: And again, the interesting part about in any industry, there’s a lot of technical terms and acronyms and those sorts of things. And for all of us, we need to respect and understand that not everybody is going to immediately know what you’re talking about.
HELEE: But it’s funny too. This one especially because accruals do tend to be a real pain point for people.
HELEE: It’s something that is troubling and I know that, swear this is not a shameless plug, but maybe it is. In Goby, in our AP automation platform, there is an accrual tool that people actually get really excited about because it helps them do this one thing that is kind of the bane of you know their end of the month closing.
RYAN: Yes. Hilarious joke on so many levels.
HELEE: It is. That was a good one. That was a good one.
RYAN: So those were kind of representing some of the misunderstanding of accounts payable and kind of speak to people specifically in that world. We’re going to talk about a few now that we’ve categorized as “Bad Process” or highlighting the concept of bad process. And this is the first one although there are many that we came across that are credit to HL. And this one…
HELEE: Ah, so now they’re going to start to get good is what you’re saying? Better?
RYAN: I guess if you’re pointing out that GR and RN were not good and that HL’s are better then sure.
HELEE: You’re not the only one that’s your biggest fan.
RYAN: Okay. So this one did quite well. I’m going to compliment you and say that this one actually did quite well. I think it was my parents’ favorite so far actually.
RYAN: A woman’s on the phone and this is Accounts Receivable Supervisor. So AR
Supervisor and she’s talking to someone on the other line. On the other end of the line is an AP person. She goes, “How about this? I’ll send you an e-invoice, you send me an ePayment, done! e-quid pro quo!”
HELEE: That’s good and current and very in the now.
RYAN: And that’s how this came to be, right? We said why don’t we do something a little more pop culture or current? But we, Helee, were a little you know was just pushing the political what are we trying to do with these cartoons and let’s step into that a little bit.
HELEE: I don’t mind getting a little political.
RYAN: I don’t mind getting a lot political…
HELEE: I’ll dip a toe in political waters.
RYAN: I can get a lot political if we need to, but anyway that’s as far as I think we’ve gone in the cartoons.
HELEE: Maybe that’s the beyond; the conversations about accounts payable and beyond. Maybe we just get super political.
RYAN: I have been wondering what the beyond is. I’ve wondered for a while about Bed Bath & Beyond. Like what the beyond. Like it’s bed, bath, bed stuff, bath stuff…
HELEE: I mean in that scenario, it’s like cheese popcorn and like best dad socks you know.
HELEE: That’s the beyond. There’s towels…
RYAN: Is that what it is with…
HELEE: There’s pillows, but then there’s like you know chachkies.
RYAN: So Automate This, is that dad socks too? Or what’s the beyond in Automate This?
HELEE: No. The beyond is like you know every now and again, you’ll get like an off-color political AP cartoon.
RYAN: Oh wow. Okay.
HELEE: For now.
RYAN: So yes.
HELEE: Maybe it’s on-color. I don’t know.
RYAN: Obviously, the bad process that we may be highlighting is if it’s not e, if it’s not electronic invoice and payment so your whole deal isn’t e-quid quo pro.
HELEE: And that’s a real thing. Check fraud is real. Paper checks are a huge source of fraud and opportunity for thieves. So moving to ePayments is not, I think that’s the undertone, right? Hilarious cartoon, but that’s the undertone.
RYAN: Let me tell you about this other one. I find this one to be hilarious and it’s the first and only one so far credit to PM. This gentleman is looking at an invoice and it’s got something that I think is just funny out of the gate. “Invoice due on receipt,” “Due on receipt” right? And he’s thinking to himself, “Never should have looked at this one. Already five seconds late on payment now.”
HELEE: That’s a good one. That is a good one.
RYAN: What is this is due on receipt? Like you pick it up and you’re like, “Well, this is what I’m working on now.”
HELEE: Like was it when you…
RYAN: Like you have to do it.
HELEE: Started to open the envelope or when you like removed the bill from the envelope? I suppose it would be easier if the invoice came in email.
RYAN: See, I don’t know whose bad process this is. I mean is it the other side? Like should you really be sending due on receipt? I get it. Like can we say like at three or something? I don’t know, but I was glad PM mentioned that and we had a couple iterations of how to present it. We had one where there was like an envelope sitting on a desk and everyone was scared to look at it because they’re like, “Don’t look! If we open that, we owe it.”
HELEE: It’s due!
RYAN: It’s due! But I like how it came out. Why don’t you walk us though this next moderately funny…
HELEE: Yeah, this is funny. And like I think I said earlier, this one’s inspired by true events. So when I walk into a new prospective customer’s office, right? I kind of like to see, if I have the opportunity, if we’re not on the phone, I like to kind of see how things are working, right? So this was an actual prospect’s office who I walked in. And there was, as soon as you walk in, like not even through the reception, there’s a basket on a desk that just has the invoices; inbound invoices. There’s a stack, it’s not quite neat, a couple are falling out, one had a coffee stain and like I said, that’s a true story. So that’s kind of what inspired this one is like what other egregious, irresponsible things can you do with a bill from a vendor other than use it as a coaster, put it in a basket, possibly let it fall off a desk, have it be the first thing a guest sees when they walk into your office? So we thought table football. You could fold it up and you could play a game with it. That would be equally as egregious. And these are all of course perhaps a play on just non-automated scenarios where these bills are coming in the mail, they’re coming in paper, they’re sitting on a desk. And obviously, I think I’ve illustrated the plethora of opportunities for a disaster.
RYAN: And we’ve seen these things very nearly happening that literally or something close. I mean I’ve seen you take photos in people’s office.
HELEE: I do.
HELEE: I do. I’m guilty as charged. I might walk into your office and snap photos of things I don’t like.
RYAN: I thought this next one, credit to HL, was quite funny myself. There’s a gentleman in the dark. He’s holding a candle up. It says, “Power bill overdue” and there’s no lights. He’s holding a candle because there’s no lights. He can barely read this bill and he’s saying, “Well, quite the pickle. I need to get this bill paid to get the lights on, but I need to get the lights on to get this bill paid.”
HELEE: At least he’s doing ePayments, right? I mean he can’t pay the bill without the lights to turn on the computer to make the ePayment. Or you’re saying he can’t even handwrite a paper check?
RYAN: Um it’s just a joke. So I mean…
HELEE: Is it though? Is it?
RYAN: He’s just struggling…
HELEE: I still think about Bill who had to reject bill. That’s not a joke. Like I said, that’s dark.
RYAN: Yeah, those are issues. Yeah.
HELEE: Those guys just…
RYAN: It doesn’t show us whether he’s going to get a check out of that desk drawer and try to write it or he’s going to be able to type on his keys. Either way, he wants some lights to pay the bills.
HELEE: It’s fair enough.
RYAN: The bad process, I guess was upstream. They didn’t get this thing paid on time so now he’s in this pickle.
HELEE: And utilities are notoriously fussy. They are not flexible on payment terms or due dates or even the way they accept payments. So when you deal with a utility, you’re dealing on their terms. And they will shut off your lights. It has happened.
RYAN: For sure.
HELEE: It has been known to happen.
RYAN: All the time. Lights, water, everything, yeah. We just had someone got shut off; the water got shut off.
HELEE: Not a Goby customer, good God!
RYAN: No, not a Goby customer. Someone who is in the sales process and you know considering us, but they have a lot, the water shut off which caused a flood which I thought was interesting. Because I’m like if you don’t have any water then how there could be a flood, but that’s a long story. This next one, first one credit to CH…
RYAN: And what I like about it, I think it’s saying not every idea is a good idea; not automation
for the sake of automation. And it’s the CFO again saying, “That’s not what I meant about utilizing tech for our approval process.” And what you have is some inventor looking person who has a hat on.
HELEE: Inspector Gadget, I think that was the actual…
RYAN: It’s essentially Inspector Gadget with a hat on…
RYAN: Yes, coming out with a stamp saying “Approved.” So there’s a hat that will help you stamp an approval. Not very helpful whatever. Don’t do technology for the sake of technology. Thank you, CH.
HELEE: Yeah, that’s a good one.
RYAN: And another credit to HL. This is where you really started to pick things up and a lot of inspiration’s coming out of…
HELEE: Oh yeah.
RYAN: Our CRO.
HELEE: That’s right.
RYAN: So talk us through this.
HELEE: So this one’s like a live example that I have to say. So it’s an actual panel I was listening to. Like I said, a lot of this is inspired in the real world. And maybe it’s the fact that my background is not conventionally in finance or accounts payable that enables me to pick out the humor in these things that to me are humorous, but you know to the practitioner who we’re empathizing with today, this might just be like your real life. So I get it. That’s tough.
So I’m listening to a panel where a CFO was up there and she said something along the lines of, “I’m going to pump the brakes on this RPA, AI, automation initiative and project. I need you guys to get caught up on all this paperwork. Okay. Thanks.” So she’s basically saying they’re so behind on their paperwork and they can’t possibly process all these paper bills. And in the image I’m looking at, there’s cubicles and there’s stacks of paper that are stacked high above the cubicles. So she cannot pause to take a step back, rethink things, save money, automate her AP process because they’ve got to get through the paperwork. So I thought that that was just a really bass ackwards, pardon my French, way of looking at it you know. So the technology can be intimidating, but you’ve got to see the big picture. It’s going to help you, it’s going to help your process, it’s going to help you save money and you might have to take half a step back to take like ten steps forward.
RYAN: The other pickle, when does it become worth the time to fix the problem instead of just powering through what you’ve got to do today? I was interviewing somebody the other day and he said they call that, he’s a developer, one of those creative programmer types and he’s like, “We call that shaving the yak.” He’s like, “Sure, I’ll get that done. I’ve got to shave this yak first.” It’s just like this thing he has got to do that they hate doing, but it just has to be done real quick. So that was…
HELEE: That’s kind of funny.
RYAN: Pretty good.
HELEE: Oh shoot. It stopped recording. Just kidding, that’s podcast humor. It’s podcast humor. Keep going as you were.
RYAN: All right guys, speaking of bad process. All right. A few more of these bad processes to get through. I was going to try and move us along, but some of these are too good. Another credit to HL, the classic pirate joke; had to be done. This is AP clerk training.
HELEE: That guy’s got a peg leg and everything.
RYAN: This guy’s got a peg leg, he’s got an eyepatch, he’s got a pirate map coming out of his pocket and he’s got a suit on though. He’s a business person now. He’s clearly…
HELEE: Yeah, he’s interviewing for a job.
RYAN: I think he has got the job…
HELEE: He has got the job.
RYAN: I think he’s at the job.
HELEE: Yeah, he has got the job. Oh, he’s training.
RYAN: And he’s looking at this map and it’s saying, “Here’s ACME’s AP process. You’re
here.” And there’s this crazy map of how to get a bill through the process. And can you read
what he says?
HELEE: He says, “This looks harrrder to navigate than my previous job.”
RYAN: That’s good.
HELEE: That’s funny.
RYAN: It was hard to figure out how to find treasure, but this is more difficult.
RYAN: Harrrrder! Yes.
HELEE: That’s good. That’s good.
HELEE: And again, inspired by reality. Part of our sales process, we sit down with the prospective client and we say, “What is your current process? Let’s draw it out. Let’s put it on a whiteboard. Let’s put it on a diagram.” And we draw it out. And it’s oftentimes things like, “Then we get the bill, then we scan the bill, then we print the bill, then we reprint the bill then we put it in a folder then someone scans it then someone else prints it, then they walk it over this person’s desk.” And it starts to look a lot like this convoluted treasure map or AP process map and it’s no one’s fault. Again, these are just kind of tribal processes that happen over time and things got tacked on and no one has taken that step back to just re-evaluate how it got to be that way. So I don’t know. Maybe treasure hunting is easier than paying a bill.
RYAN: And talking about bad processes…
HELEE: That’s where we’re at.
RYAN: This other one is again inspired by HL and you saw this as real. And I understand; I don’t blame people too much. You’re a small company, you’re an emerging company, you’re coming up, you just figured out how to get things done and you come up with things before you’re actually able to step back and do you know improved processes and that sort of thing. This person’s handing a box to a new AP professional and it has got all this kind of stuff in it. Stickers and a pinwheel and a letter opener and a stamp and some tape and the box is just stuffed and he’s like, “Here’s everything you need to manage bills through our process.”
HELEE: A pinwheel.
RYAN: A pinwheel, yeah. Post-it notes and I know you’ve seen this is real life…
HELEE: Yeah. No.
RYAN: And that’s why you came with this.
HELEE: Again, inspired by reality. I was at a round table discussion at APP2P last spring and someone was talking about various you know the people in the circle some had automation, some hadn’t. And one lady talked about, with pride nonetheless, her AP process which included like different color Post-its, different color Gmail flags and tags. She said there are some things that she keeps taped to her computer that she’ll like take off, put in a folder, put back. So again, like this is real life stuff. This is not even stuff I make up in my own head. I’m just translating reality into a hilarious way. That’s…
RYAN: It is hilarious.
HELEE: What it is.
RYAN: We labeled it here as “Bad Processes” which is a little harsh again.
RYAN: People do what they feel.
HELEE: Maybe it’s aggressive to our listeners. We shouldn’t offend our listeners.
RYAN: It’s not an optimal process.
HELEE: Not an optimal process.
RYAN: There’s opportunity for improvement. Our listeners, they know that. Like no one’s sitting here going, “Yeah, this is the way it’s going to be forever” that sort of thing.
HELEE: I don’t know. I’m telling you. That lady with her Post-its and Gmail…
RYAN: She was proud of it, yeah.
HELEE: She was proud.
RYAN: She was proud.
HELEE: She was proud.
RYAN: Why don’t you walk us through this one here? I’ll do it. I think you’ve moved on in your screen there. There’s another one. A woman carrying a big pile of papers, she’s walking up to an AP analyst. He’s at his desk, he’s kind of new, he’s saying, “I get it.” Like, “Understood. Exceptions are the special cases that require additional review.” And she is saying, “Yep, just 70% of the invoices.”
HELEE: Giant stack. Yeah.
RYAN: Where’d you get that?
HELEE: And that’s something to me.
RYAN: Where’d you get that, Helee?
HELEE: Like again, real world, okay? These are real things and again, perhaps if you’ve been in AP your whole career, I do empathize with you. Maybe this is business as usual, but to me as an outsider or getting to be more of an insider with each passing year as I do this, but to me, if 70% of your invoices are exceptions then that’s kind of the rule. That’s no longer an exception. I mean you should be processing most of those invoices straight through and then you have a low percentage of exceptions. But a lot of folks that we talk to, they do require human intervention and there is a high percentage of exceptions and it’s just kind of accepted as business as usual. So again, just you know through the lens of how is this possible?
RYAN: This next one is the one I’m most proud of. It’s not…
HELEE: This might have been the inspiration…
RYAN: Our most loved.
HELEE: For the whole thing. No?
RYAN: Well, we can get into that later…
RYAN: But yeah, it was one of the very early ones. I mean it’s really about audit trail or again,
you know are the invoices being, I don’t know if protected is the word, but secured and is there a process where they’re not going to get lost?
RYAN: So there’s a person talking to another person and he just pulled something out of the recycle bin and it’s at a company called “The Food Company.” And he’s pulling something out of the recycle bin and he says, “Who keeps hiding these invoices? We need potatoes to make fries.” And poking his head out from behind the cube is the culprit who is Mr. Potato Head.
HELEE: That’s good. That’s good.
RYAN: Need explaining? Or no, we get it?
HELEE: No, I don’t think so. But I have to ask, did you steal that? Was your inspiration for that the Chick-Fil-A billboards where the cow is painting the thing that says, “Eat more chicken.” You know it’s a cow, he’s hanging off the billboard.
RYAN: Subconsciously, that sounds right. I’m not trying to promote Chick-Fil-A by the way right now, but yeah that might have been…
HELEE: That’s a political, that’s way more political…
HELEE: E-quid quo pro.
RYAN: Yeah, political. And I have a favorite food company, customer of ours, but yeah. Touché. That’s probably it. This Mr. Potato Head says, “If we don’t pay for those potatoes, we’re not going to get cut up and made into fries.” I did explain it. I snuck it in; just making sure.
HELEE: That’s hilarious. That’s good.
RYAN: All right. Walk us through this last…
HELEE: I give that one a good chuckle
RYAN: Bad process example.
HELEE: All right. Last bad process example, but certainly not the last bad process I’ll see in
reality. And there will be more inspiration for more cartoons. I have no doubt. All right. Lady at her desk, I like by the way that a lot of the leadership in these cartoons are women, got out females CFOs which is not necessarily directly representative of reality, but appreciate it.
HELEE: It’s a changing world.
RYAN: I wish it was more.
HELEE: All right. “We are 100% automated here. You just print the emailed invoice over there then you scan it in the scanner over there then you use this computer here to email it to the requester so they can approve it. Then you just walk it to her desk and tell them to check their email.” That’s funny. They’re all automated.
RYAN: It’s funny.
HELEE: They’re using all this technology.
RYAN: That’s good.
HELEE: That’s a lot of technology in their process.
RYAN: It’s good.
HELEE: It’s automatic technology.
RYAN: It’s a good segue to the next category, “Life Before Accounts Payable Automation.” And the woman here, again accounts receivable, again on the phone. Accounts receivable is always talking to AP. They’re saying, “Okay. Since you still only pay by paper check, should I send you the invoice on a stone tablet?”
RYAN: She’s just…
RYAN: Straight sassing the other person. All right.
HELEE: She’s got a sassy face too. I hope by now you guys are definitely following along…
RYAN: She’s saying…
HELEE: But the face is perfect.
RYAN: “I can’t believe you’re telling me I’ve got to wait for a paper check to come in the mail that I’ve got to open. And I guess I should start invoicing on stone tablets.” That’s pretty funny.
HELEE: That’s good. That’s pretty funny. That’s not even one of yours.
RYAN: It might be. I don’t know. I can’t see on here, but…
RYAN: No. The word T-O…
HELEE: Oh, credit to, jeez.
RYAN: It means “to.”
HELEE: There’s just no to person.
RYAN: To, yeah.
HELEE: I thought it was credit TO.
RYAN: You know it’s just on this image that we’re looking at, we can’t see it because…
HELEE: Ah it’s cut off. I get it. I get it.
RYAN: If you could just move that over, we could see it and give the proper credit.
HELEE: Well, whoever wrote it…
RYAN: That one was really…
HELEE: That’s real good.
RYAN: Exciting. I think if I just exit it.
HELEE: Do the reveal.
RYAN: GR! GR again.
HELEE: Ah GR.
HELEE: He has to be a guest on this podcast…
HELEE: At some point.
RYAN: Yeah, he’s good. Okay. This is one of your early brilliant ones. Why don’t you walk us through that next one?
HELEE: All right. All right. So in digesting the AP process, there’s a lot of parallels; a lot of parallels, stay with me here, stay with me here, to online dating. Not that I know; happily married. It’s all good. However, okay it’s a lady and she’s looking at her phone. She’s like the kind of lady that would be online dating and she says, “I get more matches on Tinder than on POs.” And that’s funny.
RYAN: It is funny. It’s just…
HELEE: A lot of the complaints is that the invoice doesn’t match the PO and then this lady she’s having trouble online dating. You know she never matches with anyone on Tinder. I don’t even know if Tinder’s the thing, but I don’t know. I thought that was pretty funny.
RYAN: It’s funny. Again, pop culture which we haven’t done too much of that. I think this next one is not pop culture. Well, kind of, but again, life before AP automation. This gentleman, he’s in a horse and buggy which is his taxi. He’s a business person. He’s in a horse and buggy, there’s a city behind him, but the person on the other end of his phone is saying, “So your company doesn’t accept credit card in this day and age? Anything else I need to know?” And this gentleman’s on a headset that has cords while riding a horse and buggy. So he’s just all, his company is outdated, he’s outdated. He rides around in horse and buggy taxis. And most of all, and this inspiration came from jokes I have with my sister about how if you don’t have Bluetooth headset and you have cords connected to your listening device, we call that the horse and buggy headset. Like you’ve got to have AirPods, Bluetooth headset, whatever it is. So that was the inspiration there is just the general outdated technology might say something else about your procedures in your company.
HELEE: I totally agree with that. I mean if your back of house isn’t clean and working seamlessly and on the cutting edge technology, to me honestly, it’s an indication of your front of house. How do I trust your product if your back of house is a disaster, you know? I do think it’s reflective of the organization and how they perform.
RYAN: The old M and M test. All right. Two more quickly on life before AP automation. Very simply in this case, a typo and a sassy gentleman. He sees an invoice that says, “Due May 31st, 1019.” He goes up to his boss, the Department Manager of AP and says, “Do we have a time machine?”
HELEE: That’s good. That’s good.
RYAN: He wants to go back in time and pay this invoice on time. That’s fun.
HELEE: That’s good. And again, this one’s reflective of, we get it a lot. So prior to implementing AP automation, a lot of the entry of the invoices upon receipt whether they come in the mail, however they arrived, email, is a person typing it into the ERP. So that’s open opportunity for transposition errors; happens all the time. People are just human. You have a person typing stuff in, it’s going to happen. They’re going to type you know 1019 instead of 2019. It’s going to happen. And then there’s repercussions of that. And sometimes it’s an extra zero in an amount due and sometimes it’s a wrong date. And obviously, different ramifications depending on where the transposition error occurs.
RYAN: What about the traditional approval process? People are able to print and find people and get things approved in time on a regular basis, right Helee?
HELEE: Ha! All right. Another one. Reality is just the best inspiration. So no matter how many customers I talk to, the one unifying factor, there’s varying pain points, this is a nuisance for us, this is troubling, this is why we’re looking for an automation solution, but the one that comes up the most which shocks me is approval times. We just can’t get specifically certain people in our organization to approve their invoices in a timely fashion which is crazy to me, right? Because it’s kind of like do your job. Or even if your job isn’t AP, be a good steward of your company and just approve invoices on time so vendors can get paid on time and so on so forth. But that’s what they say, long approval times. And usually it’s just a couple individuals.
So this gentleman sitting in the chair behind the desk, he has turned into a skeleton. His body has decomposed because he was waiting for an invoice to get approved. He has got an iPhone so he’s definitely doing invoice approvals you know on the go through an app which is awesome, but it says, “Thank you for waiting. Your invoice has been approved,” but he decomposed already.
RYAN: Right. So he’s like, “I’m not going to eat until this…”
HELEE: Yeah, I know. He’s done.
RYAN: “Is fine.”
HELEE: So he died waiting for this invoice to get approved.
RYAN: He just goes, “I’m going to sit here…”
HELEE: And then he decomposed.
RYAN: “With reasonable posture and die. I won’t eat until.” Like I would’ve eaten and just you know escaladed to my boss or something.
HELEE: And the best part, this is a credit to our cartoonist who I’ve yet to meet, but someday. I think he’s in New Zealand or something.
RYAN: The actual illustrator?
HELEE: But there’s a spider web on the back of his chair. That’s funny.
RYAN: It was very good. All right. And that brings us to our listener’s favorite part and that’s listener’s with an apostrophe “s” hi mom! Where we talk about is it craft beer or craft coffee. Craft is such a wonderful thing. Artisan beer and coffee are wonderful. So Helee it’s your turn to see if you can stump, stump? That’s kind of a coffee thing too, isn’t it? Anyway stump me…
HELEE: All right.
RYAN: Give me something, give me a brand. Give me a location.
HELEE: I got one for you.
HELEE: I feel like it’s either a win-win or a lose-lose. Like either you can’t get it right or you have to get it right. Do you know what I mean? Okay. Ready?
RYAN: No, I don’t follow that, but go ahead.
HELEE: All right. “Steel Hands Coffee Lager.”
RYAN: Okay. I believe that to be a coffee-flavored beer.
RYAN: That’s what that is pretty clearly. So…
HELEE: So was it a coffee or a beer?
RYAN: Oh. Oh so that’s a beer place.
HELEE: Okay. Yeah, it’s…
RYAN: It’s a brewery.
HELEE: It says coffee…
RYAN: It’s a brewery.
HELEE: On the can, but it’s in a can and then in a glass.
RYAN: It’s a brewery. Please, as always, connect this back to why accounts payable practitioners would be interested in this particular location?
HELEE: Because somewhere it’s after 5 o’ clock, not quite yet in Chicago, and someone should be having a beer. Maybe a Steel Hands coffee-flavored lager as they listen to this podcast.
RYAN: Is this place in Chicago?
HELEE: Oh, I don’t know. I juts googled it.
RYAN: Interesting. All right. Well, that was fun and that’s a wrap.
HELEE: That’s a wrap. So thanks for joining us for episode four. We hope you will return for the continuation of “Empathizing with the AP Practitioner” in episode five. Don’t forget to check out the cartoons that this podcast was based on #automatethis via all your favorite social media channels and we’ll catch you next time. Thanks for listening.