AP Automation Success Factor #1: Can You Rely on your Structured Data?

Marketing Team - Monday, December 29, 2014

The tenets of records management are to provide a reliable, authentic record with auditable integrity which are critical in an AP Automation initiative.  In the past few years, I have been involved in a number of AP Automation projects where the underlying assumption that the data in line of business applications, such as Oracle and SAP, were accurate and complete.  This assumption proved to be costly, in terms of both time and money, as projects were delayed and additional resources required to identify and remove true duplicates, or, rename non-duplicated information, and then, to standardize naming conventions so that the project could move forward, often after the original go-live date. 

There are so many adages that apply – “pay me now or pay me later”, “garbage in/garbage out”, it’s almost funny (almost).  If you have lived through a project where an underlying assumption proved false, you understand the pain.  In many cases, the test environment uses a database of made-up data, so as to not compromise security requirements.  In any project, though, live data is used in the production environment.  My experience has been that production data needs to be thoroughly examined, and tested, before the go-live date in order to celebrate a successful implementation. 

What should you do?

1. Know Your Environment

    a. Databases and configured limitations

    b. Technology resources

    c. Communication resources

    d. Current metrics and SLA’s

2. Select a Service Provider

    a. Companies specialize in this field, you do not – find one that fits your company culture

3. Get Organized

    a. Identify the proponents

    b. Identify the opponents

4. Plan the Communication with Stakeholders

    a. Procurement

    b. Vendors

    c. Approvers

    d. End users

5. Execute the Technical Project

    a. Allow at least 3 months to develop and test

    b. Look at the SLA and metric reporting

6. Train and educate

    a. Training = How

    b. Education = Why

7. Evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly

8. Keep an eye out for further improvements

Something to think about:  Involve a records management professional.  We’re trained to create classification plans that make business sense, understand the implications of abbreviations and acronyms, and know that a record will lose its value over time and will need to be discarded. 

Dealing with the here and now, in migration or business process automation projects, we also understand the importance of cleaning and purging information during the development stages, prior to testing, so that the testing is a reflection of the usefulness of the application and not the integrity of the data. 

Cheryl Ahrens Young, CIP, CDIA+, CTT+, APMD, ermM, ecmP

Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct:   (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile:  (626) 824-1628


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