Automate This Episode #05: Empathy for AP, part 2
Automate This #05: Empathy for AP, part two
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. In the second episode of this two-part series, continuing their efforts to shed some light on this back-office function and help us all walk a mile in their shoes, Helee Lev and Ryan Nelson finish explaining the inspiration behind Goby’s accounts payable cartoon, Automate This. New episodes are posted on social media every Friday!
Read the podcast transcript:
HELEE: Hello and welcome to Automate This; the podcast for conversations about accounts payable and beyond. Today’s episode, episode five, will be a continuation of our two-part podcast “Empathizing with the Accounts Payable Professional.” I’m Helee Lev, Chief Revenue Office at Goby.
RYAN: And I’m Ryan Nelson, Chief Operating Officer. And just as the last episode that empathizing will come by way of talking through Automate This the cartoon where we’ll speak to some of our favorites and how they kind of came about and the fact that they’re all actually connected to real life AP stories. So looking forward to finishing that discussion. We had some great laughs last time and I expect we’ll go here.
RYAN: All right. The next category we will refer here to as “The Status Quo.” Kind of the things are the way that they are and it’s very hard to change management and all that is somewhat difficult. In this first one, I want to walk us through. I’ll let you do the second one which I think you…
HELEE: I wrote both of these…
RYAN: It says here credit to HL on both of these. So this first one, okay. So there’s these two villains and this gentleman is pointing to this map. He’s got this intricate plan. It’s kind of a, what’s that movie? Ocean’s Eleven, right?
HELEE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
RYAN: This heist.
HELEE: That’s good.
RYAN: So he’s got this heist plan. It’s like, “We’re going to fly a helicopter in here. Meanwhile someone is going to dig under the building and then we’re going to grab the stock and we’re going to steal it.” And his woman, this other villain here is saying, “No need, partners.” She’s got like a toothpick. She’s saying, “No need, partner. Their AP department only uses checks. This is going to be easy.”
HELEE: Yeah, that’s good.
HELEE: Again, just kudos to this illustrator who I’ve yet to meet because this was just an idea and then that was exactly the visualization. He just brought it to life.
RYAN: So using checks…
HELEE: But yeah, check fraud. Real life example is actually someone in my family within her business got check frauded to the tune of you know high five digits amount of money that was just straight up simple check fraud. Someone took a paper check, however you do it, I don’t know. Copied it over, I haven’t defrauded anyone myself personally, but checks, paper checks.
RYAN: So let me ask you this and tread lightly here, what do you have against Debbie?
HELEE: I don’t know. Debbie is just she’s like my accounting persona. I don’t know; nothing against Debbie. I know Debbies. I like Debbies that I know.
RYAN: So you have Debbies that you know. There are Debbies…
HELEE: They’re not in accounts payable.
RYAN: That you like and in your head, you’ve separated Debbie from a Debbie or something.
HELEE: It’s nothing against, I won’t say it’s an against. That’s just my accounts payable persona. Maybe Helee is someone’s CRO persona and that could be fine. They could have a podcast, they could write cartoons and I wouldn’t be offended.
RYAN: Yes, but this Debbie persona, is it someone that you think is awesome and you want to hang out with and it’s like you respect her decisions?
HELEE: I think Debbie, like Bill, Bill’s dark, but I think Debbie has a layer to her as well.
HELEE: You know…
RYAN: All right.
HELEE: You might want to have some Rosé with Debbie and just figure out what’s going on.
RYAN: She does look pretty serious in this image.
HELEE: She’s super serious. Okay. So here’s the one again inspired by reality, right? So Debbie from accounting sitting at the top of this hill and she’s got this Zen like Yoda thing about her and she’s saying, it’s almost like a mantra, “You must always confirm the DPI of the MFD.” And then you have all these other people holding bills and like, “All hail Debbie.” And then the quote at the bottom, “That’s Debbie. She’s the only one that knows our payment process.”
And this one was kind of inspired because again, a lot of customers you talk to, they use the word “tribal” or they say there is someone like Debbie who has been in accounting for 25 years who is the only person that knows how to do these processes which are oftentimes antiquated or backwards or have extra steps or just not like super streamlined. But because that’s just the way it has always been done, no one challenges it. They just accept it. And oftentimes that person Debbie might carry a lot of clout because she has been there for 25 years and she has always done things that way and it’s maybe not broke, but you’ve got to get those processes. The process should always survive the person. And whether that’s accounts payable or anything else, but the processes should survive the one person.
RYAN: Hilarious. And the DPI of the MFD which if you don’t know, I believe these are real things. I believe that’s Dot’s Per Inch or something? Dots Per Inch of the Multi-Functional Device. Yeah. So you’ve got to print the thing or whatever. I don’t know.
HELEE: No, that’s good. That’s good.
RYAN: Hilarious all the way around. Don’t worry, there’s another category too here. So “The Benefits of AP Automation.” This one you have to say it in his voice and it’s hard. I don’t know if other people totally got it. I mean it’s cute and fun. It was on…
HELEE: I got on this one.
RYAN: Valentine’s Day. Oh, it was Valentine’s Day. Do you watch Saturday Night Live? There’s this woman, I forget the comedian’s name, but she’s one of my favorites, but she does the target lady. And she’s always, her thing is like, “Where’d you get that?” Like she’s checking people out and she has to run back and get something. She’s like, “Hold on…”
HELEE: Oh no, I haven’t seen that.
RYAN: Because she wants to get it. And then like if you swipe your credit card when she’s checking you out, she’s like, “Approved!” and she does that.
HELEE: That’s funny.
RYAN: So this lady is going, “It’s a match!” And she’s holding up her purchase order and an invoice and they have hearts. This is Valentine’s Day, okay? And so this purchase order and this invoice are in love with each other because it’s a match. So this is what happens when you’re automated kind of thing.
HELEE: That’s darling. I don’t know. It takes me back to the Tinder comical…
RYAN: And darling is sometimes what I go for; credit to RN. What do you got?
HELEE: All right. Oh, this one’s funny. Actually this was a good RN one. Not that they’re all not good, but this was a better of the good RN ones. All right. So you’ve got a desk. Again, it’s the woman CEO, CFO, excuse me; CFO. She’s often frustrated behind her desk and she’s like hitting her head almost like that emoji with the hand on the face. And in front of her desk, there’s a man down on one knee, he’s holding steaks like meat like steaks. And then he’s almost proposing to a lady who’s also holding steaks like raw meat in her hand. And the CFO, she’s saying, “That is not what I meant when I said engage the stakeholders! Jeez!” It’s funny. Literally…
RYAN: So those people are…
HELEE: Engaging the stakeholders. That’s good.
RYAN: Holding steaks…
HELEE: Yeah, they’re holding steaks…
RYAN: While getting engaged?
HELEE: It’s good.
RYAN: It’s absurd.
HELEE: But she just meant to engage the stakeholders…
HELEE: For her initiative.
HELEE: Right. It’s clever.
RYAN: Thank you. I appreciate that.
HELEE: One of your better ones, nice work. Nice work.
RYAN: Thanks. Thanks. I know it’s our CEO’s wife’s favorite.
HELEE: Oh good.
RYAN: So that’s…
HELEE: Shout out to Emily then.
RYAN: That means something, yeah. I think two more here on the benefits of AP automation and then finally, we talk about life after AP automation. This one, credit to CO. Glad to see another person, CO, getting involved here.
HELEE: All right.
RYAN: And this is about again about audit trails and about fraud avoidance, governance, those types of things. This one is a very specific thing that it connects to, but there’s a person. He’s all sweaty and his name’s Dave and he’s at his computer typing. He was supposed to do something. He says, “Oh man!” He was thinking, “Oh man! I’m three days late on approving this. Please backdate my approval for me.” And the technology is saying, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
HELEE: Yeah. This is a reference to a movie or something, but my problem with it, it’s adorable, clever, darling, amazing, I’ve never seen the movie.
RYAN: I mean…
HELEE: I’ve never seen the movie.
RYAN: If you look up greatest movie of all time, this will come up.
HELEE: It’s like Braveheart or something?
RYAN: Like 80% of the time.
HELEE: All right. I don’t know. I’ll put it on the weekend list.
RYAN: I think it’s called 2001: A Space Odyssey I believe is the full title, but…
HELEE: Yeah. It will be top priority for my upcoming weekend.
RYAN: Like it’s Stanley Kubrick. It’s like the best movie ever on most top lists or whatever.
HELEE: Except mine.
RYAN: Yes, not on yours. Well, you haven’t seen it.
HELEE: I haven’t seen it.
RYAN: So maybe…
HELEE: Fair enough.
RYAN: Maybe it would be.
HELEE: But very clever.
RYAN: This next one I just want to mention is probably the first one ever.
HELEE: Oh yeah. This might have been the inspiration for the cartoon.
RYAN: No. The inspiration to do this…
HELEE: Do the cartoon…
RYAN: Was a movie that I watched…
RYAN: That I can talk about later. It’s an excellent movie. In it, there’s a gentleman who has a similar concept as a cartoonist, but it’s not about AP. It’s about something else, but very specific and very niche-y. It was a great movie.
HELEE: But wasn’t this the first joke?
RYAN: This was the first joke.
HELEE: That was it. Okay.
RYAN: So I walked in the office and all of a sudden I was like, “TG! I’ve got this…”
RYAN: “Idea I want to do. I want to do this cartoon that only AP people are going to get.” It was just very specific about this world and dad jokes are popular now so I think we can pull this off. And he’s like, “Yes.” I’ve always had this idea about this poor mailroom person. And it says, on the wall, it says, “The benefits of AP automation.” But there’s this mailroom person with a letter opener and all the paper ware and he’s got Band-Aids all over him. And he’s saying, as far as the project goes, he’s saying, “Well, don’t forget the ROI from less Band-Aids.”
HELEE: I like that there’s Band-Aids on his hat. That’s funny.
RYAN: Yeah, he cut his hat and he had a Band-Aid up. Yeah.
HELEE: He has got to open all these envelopes.
RYAN: But yes.
HELEE: The struggle is real.
RYAN: Thanks to TG for, where has TG been in this inspiration since then? He blasted in his early one and that was it, huh?
HELEE: He’ll be here live in the flesh tomorrow. So feel free to rouse him about it. We won’t let him leave Goby HQ until he comes up with another.
RYAN: I like it. That’s not legal, but I like the concept. All right. “Life After Automation” our final cartoons here. “Life After Automation.” This one…
HELEE: Euphoria, no?
RYAN: Again, euphoria. This one…
HELEE: Perfect Zen state of accounts payable bliss…
RYAN: I’m sorry.
HELEE: Post AP automation.
RYAN: I have to take these next two and then you get the couple…
HELEE: You go…
RYAN: After that. All right.
HELEE: You go ahead. You do you.
RYAN: This next one, you’re maybe too young for this. This is a shout-out to the Maytag man. If people remember this guy who didn’t have anything to do because these dishwashers were so good that the repair person never got a call. So that was the inspiration here. So this person is a Supplier Relationship Manager and the little thing behind him says, “Days without a complaint: 326.” And he’s thinking, “Ugh. Thanks to the self-service vendor portal, I guess I should start on some other initiatives.”
HELEE: Aw he looks sad. He looks like he liked his job.
RYAN: He did. He liked taking these calls and being like, “Oh, so what’s the problem? I can help you out,” but no one calls. They just go on their self-service vendor portal…
HELEE: It’s a beautiful thing.
RYAN: Figure out the information they need and move on. This person could do other important things.
HELEE: Well, this may shock you, but not everyone, not every AP department likes to receive phone calls and vendor inquiries. Believe it or not, they actually prefer that their vendors might log in as to enquire about the status of their payments…
RYAN: Helee, I’m not shocked.
HELEE: And not call them up.
RYAN: I’m not shocked. I’m not. Okay.
HELEE: I don’t mind. I’m on board with that. Like someone could text me anytime about any sort of inquiry and I might prefer that to a telephone call.
RYAN: Right, but if that person never had to get a hold of you because they could just go see it…
RYAN: Okay. Good. So we agree on that. And this is the…
HELEE: Oh! This is the award-winning…
RYAN: Yeah, the award-winning…
HELEE: We’re 42 minutes in…
RYAN: And GR…
HELEE: But I’m happy you stuck with us for this long because this is the best AP joke of all time.
RYAN: GR got it.
HELEE: Of all time.
RYAN: Everyone loves it.
HELEE: Wait, wait, the drumroll.
RYAN: Stickers have been made. Shoot! What was I going to say about it? Had something…
HELEE: Oh go on! Just reveal it.
RYAN: Oh, what’s the…
HELEE: It’s the best one.
RYAN: What’s the something de resistance or something?
RYAN: What is that? You know like this great thing? Whatever. This is that great painting in the thing.
HELEE: The Sistine Chapel?
RYAN: The Sistine Chapel. This is…
HELEE: Oh yeah, this is the Sistine Chapel of AP cartoons.
RYAN: Whatever, yeah.
HELEE: Absolutely. Alright, let me do the drumroll again.
RYAN: No, no, no because I don’t think it’s good for the mic. All right. So there’s an AP supervisor.
HELEE: It’s so good.
RYAN: She has got her arms behind her head, she’s kicked back in her desk and it’s the end of the year and it says her computer is telling her, “Automated AP inbox currently empty” with a check.
RYAN: “Automated AP inbox currently empty.” Next to that, there’s an inbox of paper that says, “1099 Prep” right? You have to prep all these 1099s for all these vendors that aren’t corps and everything. And she’s singing, “I got 1099 problems, but AP ain’t one.”
HELEE: That’s amazing. That’s amazing.
RYAN: I’ve got 1099 problems, got 1099 problems…
HELEE: But AP ain’t one; it’s good.
RYAN: Oh jeez.
HELEE: I got 99 problems, but…
RYAN: No, no.
HELEE: Can’t say the rest of it.
RYAN: No, no. It’s not…
HELEE: Too political for this podcast.
RYAN: It’s not a good song. It’s not appropriate.
HELEE: No, Jay-Z is amazing.
RYAN: Jay-Z is amazing, but I mean you shouldn’t…
HELEE: He’s an icon of our generation, of my generation.
RYAN: Yeah, I’m sure. Yes. I know. Totally agree, but you shouldn’t really talk like that. But I don’t think he does anymore either. But I got 1099 problems, but AP ain’t one.
HELEE: It’s amazing.
RYAN: I mean the people that have snapped us and told us about that is just great.
HELEE: I do think that’s why GR retired; rightfully so. He peaked.
RYAN: Oh yeah. From giving us inspiration? Yeah.
RYAN: Yeah. We have been keeping him busy, but yeah. But yeah so that’s good. Walk me through your favorite one on this page.
HELEE: All right. Maybe we rapid fire through the rest of these, but again, #automatethis all social media channels. Go read them for yourself. Are you on this page?
HELEE: All right. Let’s see. Let’s see. Let’s see. All right. I’m going to digest the first one just because it’s the one I know the best. All right. So it’s a gentleman, he’s very Patrick Swayze looking circa Dirty Dancing movie. He’s holding up this giant trophy and he’s like kind of doing a little like a cute little step. And he has got this award, but the quote under it is, “No one puts AP in a corner.” It’s good, right? It’s good.
RYAN: No one puts baby in a corner. That’s the…
HELEE: Like the movie…
HELEE: “No one puts baby in the corner,” but…
RYAN: And on the…
HELEE: Again, it’s metaphorical of like accounts payable. It’s often as we talk about at Goby when we say rethink what AP can be, it shouldn’t just be shoved in the corner as a back of house forgotten about function. We want to put AP in the spotlight so we don’t want AP in the corner much like baby. AP should be out dancing with Patrick Swayze doing the lift and getting the credit that the AP department deserves.
RYAN: No. This one speaks exactly yeah to our passion and the whole thing. On the billboard in the back, there’s a memo from CEO that says, “AP makes company a million dollars.” And that’s kind of the idea like literally. It’s not just about processing more efficiently. Accounts payable can be a career choice. It can be something that contributes through data acquisition and actually make the company money. It can be a profit-centered, doesn’t have to be a cost because all that stuff that we can talk about forever, but it is. This next one, I thought was pretty fun. It’s pigeons, it’s the Carrier Pigeon Union. It’s the president of the Carrier Pigeon Union. All right.
HELEE: It’s a pigeon behind a desk, that’s good.
RYAN: It’s a pigeon behind a desk reading a newspaper talking to another pigeon and this pigeon is the president. And the newspaper says, “Nearly all invoice delivery has gone digital” and the pigeon’s saying, “We’re just going to have to reinvent ourselves. Think we could deliver babies?”
HELEE: That’s good, that’s good.
RYAN: Yeah. Right. That’s…
HELEE: They can’t deliver invoices anymore…
HELEE: By carrier pigeon…
RYAN: Carrier pigeons, it’s like what are you? Snail mail, carrier pigeons. And then like a pigeon’s going to deliver a baby? No! That’s for those, what are those birds that deliver babies?
HELEE: I like there’s a little waste basket in there.
HELEE: Just in case.
RYAN: The pigeon, yeah.
HELEE: The pigeon behind the desk…
RYAN: But who delivers?
HELEE: Might need to toss out some trash.
RYAN: Storks deliver babies.
HELEE: Yeah, I get it. It’s good.
HELEE: We should move on though.
RYAN: But the idea that a pigeon could deliver a baby, I mean that’s aspirational. Yeah, “Life After Automation.” It’s simple. It’s slightly less humorous perhaps, but it’s simple and it revolves some of the nuance language. Yeah.
HELEE: We’ve got to do the ghost card one.
RYAN: Yeah, yeah. All right. Do it.
HELEE: Do it. All right. So we talked about payments, check fraud, paper checks, poked some fun at that, but this one celebrates you know ghost payments, ghost cards, electronic payments, how safe they are. So it’s a group of people at a dinner table and there’s a ghost you know full head-to-toe sheet like a Halloween looking ghost. And they’re all kind of squabbling over like, “I got the bill” “No, I got the bill” “No, I got the bill;” typical dinner. And the ghost, he says, “Hey, hey! I got this. It’s more secure that way.” That’s good.
RYAN: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got to kind of know your stuff here to know what’s going on, but yeah ghost card is a more secure way.
HELEE: It was pretty cool. If anyone doesn’t know what a ghost card is, I’ll explain it. Because I, truth be told, did not know maybe a year ago. But the card number’s only valid one time for one payment for that exact amount. So it’s not like storing a credit card that could be debited every single time you have a payment or stolen or used. You’re getting a one-time credit card number. It’s valid for a one-time payment of 56 dollars and 27 cents. And the number, like a ghost, it just disappears so it’s extremely secure.
RYAN: And you see all these nice people kind of reaching for their wallets and their cards, but this one guy, he’s just kind of whistling and doing Tyrannosaurus Rex arms.
HELEE: They call it like the T-Rex hands, yeah. Yeah.
RYAN: It is.
HELEE: That’s a thing.
HELEE: Oh, just let me get my wallet.
RYAN: Just, yeah. Can you, oh whatever. At least other people are trying, but the ghost is happy to pay.
HELEE: Yeah, he’s happy to pay.
RYAN: Very similar concept. A woman comes back to the table of these two people who try to pay by virtual card and she’s saying, the server is saying “I’m sorry folks, but your fancy virtual card needs to be backed by actual currency.” So that’s hysterical. You can’t just make up money. Even though money as we learned from our book club is just imaginary; the whole thing’s just imaginary. You still actually have actual currency backing those cards. Well, thank you Helee and you know to the listeners, but thank you Helee for going on this journey of Automate This the cartoon. Hopefully, people…
HELEE: I don’t know what’s more fun, the podcast or the cartoon.
RYAN: Yeah, that’s…
HELEE: It’s awesome.
RYAN: One of those tough ones that you can’t answer…
HELEE: It’s for the listeners to decide.
RYAN: Answer that, yeah. But I do have another question for you before we wrap things up here, the usual thing which we just renamed now. It was “Craft Coffee” or “Craft Beer,” but a CL told us it’s “Beans or Beer.” So is it beans or beer?
HELEE: I don’t know, tell me.
RYAN: I’m just going to name some…
HELEE: Yeah, tell me.
RYAN: Some nice place and you tell me if it’s beans or beer.
HELEE: That’s nice. So that’s like, isn’t that a hint?
RYAN: I don’t think so.
HELEE: Oh okay. All right. Go.
RYAN: A nice beer place. You have a nice beans place. It says it serves nice coffee. You ready?
RYAN: That’s not the thing. I didn’t say the thing. “Colectivo.”
RYAN: That’s correct. Okay.
HELEE: Done. That’s a wrap. All right. Well, for those of you still with us, thank you for listening. We appreciate it. Check out these cartoons #automatethis and we appreciate you tuning in for another episode of Automate This the podcast. Have a good evening.