* The problem of access. Inside ERP processing can impede the ability of some users to perform their daily tasks. Storing an invoice inside the ERP provides access to the document, yes, but only select, high-ranking team members have access to all of the information needed to decipher how an invoice was approved, whether signatures were received, or whether instructions were followed correctly. Unlike an ERP-independent solution, it's difficult to configure the options and resources shared by all of the users so that usability and visibility are maximized while still protecting security. In other cases, especially when working remotely or traveling, some users may prefer to not use the ERP interface for AP workflow altogether. It's more efficient for them to use a mobile device to check and approve invoices, especially if it's a Web-based application that doesn't require incremental ERP licensing costs to approve invoices through the ERP interface.
* The problem of complexity. Opening up your ERP system to add AP workflow automation is not as easy as 1-2-3 -- with it comes a significant amount of costs, risks and complexities. More often than not, solutions that function within the ERP environment require a major investment of time and money for installation, integration and maintenance by ERP application engineers.
* The problem of flexibility. Solutions that are developed to operate within the ERP environment are, by nature, limited in their ability to integrate with multiple systems.
* The problem of performance. With an IT landscape that is constantly changing and ever-evolving, it is critical to integrate AP workflow automation at a level that maintains ERP system integrity while performing seamlessly. Tools that operate within the ERP environment have a habit of tapping system resources allocated to core ERP applications and other enterprise systems. The impact is only multiplied as companies add systems through mergers and acquisitions, and as additional staff requires more resources.
* The problem of recognition. While the part of the "inside ERP" process that extracts data from sources (paper invoices, email, faxes, EDI, etc.) resides outside of the ERP system, approval workflow is done inside, which creates a break in the end-to-end audit trail. Plus, instead of validating recognition and initiating the workflow from the same screen, AP personnel have the burden of dealing with two different applications and interfaces.
Thinking outside of the ERP for streamlined workflow