AP automation: Put your money where your money is

AP automation

Relying on manual, paper-based processes in the accounts payable (AP) department often leads to a whole host of well-documented inefficiencies. For example, incomplete invoice information causes delays in payments, while unavailable AP data may cause ERP users to miss important transactions. Staff also spend hours working on manual processes and searching for critical information.

These inefficiencies drive up invoice processing costs and solidify AP’s reputation as a cost center, when the department should (and could) be seen as a strategic partner with unique insights that can improve the organization’s financial health. In today’s business environment — one that has brought new ways of working, new challenges and new risks — how can AP departments rise to their full potential?

This is where AP automation makes a huge difference. With automated AP processes, organizations can save millions in dollars in processing costs alone.

Read on to find out why it’s worth making the switch.

Why payables departments must automate

The ever-changing business climate creates new risks and challenges for AP leaders. In addition to the inadequacies of manual processes, the stakes are higher now with new fraud and compliance risks. Without the right controls, it’s harder for AP leaders to enforce rules, maintain accountability, protect data and prevent documents from being discarded prematurely.

Meanwhile, the possibility of disrupted business processes means having to manage the spike in supplier inquiries regarding the status of invoices and payments, which can be time-consuming. This also hinders AP staff from keeping work on track — even more so when there are insufficient resources.

At a time where data should be easily accessible to staff working remotely, silos can prevent departments from having complete visibility and access to data across units, which can negatively influence operational decision-making.

How AP automation benefits organizations in the new normal

Adapting to the new business climate means accepting the need to modernize your processes on your digital transformation journey. That means having to rethink how your accounts payables department operates.

Here are 5 key deliverables that AP automation offers:

1. Ensures control and accountability

With AP automation, you ensure secure retention of documents, maintain consistent record keeping, track any actions taken on an invoice and control access to documentations. You can also automatically enforce rules and chain of custody to ensure the right people can access information.

2. Enhances supplier experiences

Automation provides easy access and visibility into the status of every invoice in the system, while supplier invoices are easily accessible and seamlessly connected to your organization’s ERP application. This makes it simple for staff to quickly respond to supplier inquiries regarding the status of invoices, resolve issues rapidly and consistently make timely payments — subsequently reducing supplier inquiries in the future.

3. Replaces manual work with digital processes

Accounts payable automation solutions also enable you to reduce manual work. You can automatically capture and extract invoice data and integrate it into the system. There’s no need to manually enter or match data for PO or non-PO invoices with automation.

Integrating an AP automation solution with existing ERPs speeds process optimization by eliminating error-prone and time-consuming tasks of keying in information manually. Automation also reduces invoice approval cycle times from weeks or days to mere hours.

4. Enhances visibility into operations

In an automated AP environment where every document is stored in a single system, there are intelligent features like graphical dashboards that provide near real-time visibility into operations – from cash flow, liabilities and risks to corporate spending. This enables senior management to make better-informed financial decisions. The insights gained from reports also help improve process efficiency and accurately forecast business performance and liabilities.

5. Puts smart cash control in the hands of decision-makers

Automation enables AP managers to instantly access critical metrics, keep tabs on early payment discount offers and leverage smart features to help curb spending. AP automation solutions also provide the flexibility businesses need to adjust to changing market conditions with ad hoc reporting.

Choosing the right AP automation solution

AP automation provides one of the most effective ways to streamline inefficient processes, reduce processing costs and provide more visibility into (and control of) supplier invoices and payments — providing ROI and savings from the very first invoice you process. While it may be tempting to wait on automation until economic conditions improve, the business case for automation has never been stronger.

While there are many solutions in the market today, only the best-in-class AP automation solutions can help you unlock the full benefits and help you thrive in the new business climate.

To learn more — including how one organization cut 80 hours of manual work per week — download the ebook 5 keys to building a winning business case for accounts payable automation in a prevailing business environment.

Mike Malzacher

Mike Malzacher

Mike Malzacher is a solution marketing manager at Hyland and has over 20 years of product and solution marketing with high tech software companies, both large and small. Mike received... read more about: Mike Malzacher

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