The Ultimate Resource for AP Automation
If you're looking to streamline AP processes, automate invoice or payment processing, or curious about how accounts payable automation works, this is the guide for you.
If you're looking to streamline AP processes, automate invoice or payment processing, or curious about how accounts payable automation works, this is the guide for you.
If you work in AP, you're no stranger to stress, but it's time that changed. Let's bring strategy to the invoice management process and replace strain and questions with confidence that you're running a successful AP department. Read our AP best practice guide to learn how to get started.
Jump forward to what interests you via the table of contents or start from the beginning and get all the good stuff.
AP automation can be complicated to explain. To make it simple, consider first what accounts payable is.
Accounts payable is the portion of a finance department that handles paying vendors and sellers for the received goods and services. If you looked for accounts payable on your balance sheet, it would be on the incoming side.
The definition of accounts payable is: invoices or commitments (like rent or utilities) from suppliers you haven’t paid yet. From a cash flow standpoint, this is great. You are getting a free loan from your supplier — they deliver goods or services to you, and you don’t have to pay for them in cash right away.
Next, we’ll tackle “‘automation.”’.
Automation can mean different things, to different people, to different industries. In the modern AP world, it means moving away from manual workflows and paper invoice and payment processes. Instead of receiving paper invoices manually and paying your vendors via paper checks, automation enables you to process and approve invoice and payments electronically from wherever you are.
Let's jump into the guide and learn the steps to trade stress for strategy — so you can actually go home at 5:00 PM.
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Jump to the chapter that interests you below or for a deep dive, read the whole guide.
Studies have estimated that 48% of B2B payments and 40% of invoices are still paper-based.
That's a sizeable portion of businesses that are still using antiquated invoice and payment processes. One possible reason? People, and businesses, are hesitant to fix what isn't broken.
Of course, that only lasts as long as that premise remains true.
Simply put, accounts payable is the department that ensures your bills (i.e. invoices) are paid in-full and on-time.
Common day-to-day tasks include hours of scanning and entering invoices into relevant systems and printing and signing checks for mailing, as well as working with different banks for different payment types – all opportunities that open you up to risk and fraud.
The tasks above are often manual and bogged down with paper — making for convoluted processes. It is a broken process with plenty of room for advancement and improvement. For instance, paper-based AP processes cost businesses hundreds of billions of dollar per year.
Reducing the use of paper invoices and checks would have an enormous impact on AP departments.
In general, U.S. businesses are still reliant on paper. Paper checks have continued to linger in American businesses because they're familiar and easy to use. To pay by check, you only need a name and a mailing address.
Forward-thinking companies are the exception to the rule — they've introduced accounts payable (AP) automation in order to transform paper into electronic payments and streamline their payment processes.
AP automation creates:
These benefits are just the beginning, and just the most quantifiable. AP automation ensures you never miss another payment. No more late fees, no more unexpected shipping costs for back-up check printing.
And as a bonus? Your consistent and reliable electronic payments will endear vendors into offering you more favorable terms and discounts in the future.
However, less than half of U.S. businesses take advantage of accounts payable automation. If you're one that isn't, not only are you missing out on the benefits we just went over — you're also dealing with a variety of frustrating friction points and wasteful activities.
Tip: Leaving these AP pain points unaddressed will ensure your company falls behind your competition.
No doubt you’re already aware of some of these constraints that you or your team likely encounter on a regular basis.
There are parts of the payment system and processes that are needlessly tedious. The tasks that often leave your finance staff frustrated and unmotivated.
Accounts payable departments waste a lot of time and energy on tasks that would be better off automated. The digitization journey for AP is an essential undertaking for companies looking to stay competitive.
Best-in-Class AP teams achieve invoice processing times that are 81% faster than the rest of the marketplace, per Ardent Partners’ The State of ePayables 2022 report.
Have you heard the saying: “efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things”? Various versions of this saying abound in corporate settings, but we all know what it means. There are efficient ways to file paperwork or to type data into systems. But is it effective to spend time on those tasks?
The answer is “no.” Automated accounting processes would remove these tasks from your team's to-do list, allowing them to focus on increasing their effectiveness by working on the right tasks that benefit from their time.
Without further ado, let's dive into what these friction points are:
Time management is the foundation of creating an effective business. Accounts Payable departments are among the most burdened, as too much time is spent on manual tasks. Recent studies have estimated that 25% of the average workweek is devoted to manual tasks. By automating easy aspects of business invoicing and payments, employees would be free to focus on more meaningful tasks.
25% of a standard 40 hour work week, roughly equates to 10 total weekly hours per employee spent on manual tasks. With an average of 48 weeks working weeks per year accounting for holidays, that's 480 hours of wasted time! That's equal to 12 weeks, or three months. Automation allows you to allocate that time to better purposes.
This is good for the department and for your staff. High-value tasks have a mental pay-off that low-value ones do not. Empowering your team to do more worthwhile work will help prevent burnout and keep their morale up. Not to mention, with the growing trend around the great resignation, we want to create a positive environment for employees to work.
Manual processes don't just waste valuable time — they also have a monetary cost.
In the Ardent Partner State of ePayables 2022 the average cost to process an invoice is 10.18, actually up from the previous year's report of 9.25. It's not a good sign to see the trend in the wrong direction.
The cost above is only in terms of money, it's essential not to discount the time employees spend writing, mailing, collecting and reconciling checks.
In today's world, doing more with less is an art form we all strive to master. It's common for a team to be understaffed and overworked.
Eliminating double-work and antiquated processes is the key way to do that in accounts payable. Manual processes are more open to human-error and mistakes that will result in having to go back and repeat tasks.
Automating manual payment processes allows you to cut down on the time and work that goes into invoices and processing payments. It's possible to keep B2B payments moving forward via AP payment automation. You can't afford to not take advantage of that.
A department weighed down with paper is one that can't operate in an optimal manner.
Stacks of paper invoices and checks are a daunting sight that often represents a vulnerability for fraud and misplaced documents.
Per a study OnPay Solutions, now part of Medius, partnered with PYMNTS.com on — paper-based invoices are the most-cited source of AP friction. Research shows they cost companies an average of $173,340 per year and 125 hours per week.
Reducing paper saves money, time, and the environment.
Imagine coming into work to find a desk stacked feet high with paper or to a printer putting out piles of checks waiting to be signed and mailed. It's enough to make you want to quit on the spot — but it's a sight we see more often than not.
Figuring out where to start sometimes seems impossible. It overwhelms staff and is prone to error. Instead of spending precious brain-power trying to make a dent in the never-ending influx of paper — proactively eliminate it from the equation through accounts payable automation.
If you've ever worked a job that required moving back and forth between multiple systems — you already know why this is a friction point.
An AP professional may have to pull or input information into these systems in a single day:
This practice creates an opportunity for mistakes that doesn't have to exist. All it takes is one typo in an excel sheet that is then entered into other systems to cause a domino effect of mistakes that will eat up time and burn through money to fix.
On top of that, finance departments could save 40% or more on costs by eliminating time-consuming manual report building and tracking.
By the end of this dive into the pain points of AP departments, you're probably asking: what can you do to eliminate these problems? Proscribing 'automation' is a true answer, but what does that really mean in practical terms and actions?
Keep reading to find out what forward-thinking finance departments are doing to stay ahead of the curve!
The bar has been raised.
Just getting payments out the door isn't enough if you want your finance department to be successful.
Today, you need to not only make payments, but to do it consistently and efficiently — and on time! And (oh yeah), make sure you aren't paying fraudsters that have bypassed your IT security to send in fake invoices.
The challenges in accounts payable (AP) departments are often organizational, rather than people. The biggest indicator that your issues are organizational in nature — is the overabundance of paper.
When invoices are minimal, it's possible to manage them as paper. When the amount grows to be too much, some businesses hire more staff.
This ensures that invoice processing occurs, but at a massive cost increase as well as increasing your risk of fraud. The solution to handling an increased amount of work, without expanding your team and your personnel costs, is a better system.
An automated accounting system. An ideal AP system will:
The first step to a more efficient AP team is getting rid of paper. There are more benefits to an automated system.
41% of accounts payable professionals are interested in adopting electronic invoice solutions, according to Ardent.
Imagine a duplicate payment gets through and is approved. It's not necessarily due to malicious intent from an employee or a vendor.
More often, in a manual system, an incident like this can be traced back to human error. Something is typed wrong or entered into the wrong field. These errors can cascade and cause all kinds of issues.
On one hand, there is the old-school manual way of processing invoices. The more steps involved, especially ones that require human manual entry, the higher the potential for a mistake.
On the other hand, is the more efficient and secure electronic process such as invoice automation. In this process, most steps don't require a human to manually enter or monitor anything.
Upholding a consistent workflow is difficult when it's manual. Automated payment systems make it easy to have a profitable process.
The right platform will also empower your AP staff with out of the box business best practice so you aren't constantly re-inventing the wheel.
Payment fraud is a tremendous risk that every CFO has on their mind. It has only gone up on the priority list with the advent of today's high tech, low touch economy.
When it comes to protecting your business from payment fraud — it's imperative to consider both external and internal threats. Disregarding either out of hand is a mindset that can become dangerous.
5 guidelines for preventing payment fraud:
1. Diligence matters
2. Don't ignore suspicions
3. Limit rushed decisions
4. Take quick actions on problems
5. Make everyone accountable
The first three steps result in benefits that are best measured in time saved and costs removed as well as avoided by reducing the risk of fraud.
Preventing process breakdowns and identifying elements that cause inefficiency are key to a thriving accounts payable department. AP automation equals freedom and focus. It empowers accounts payable teams with the ability to approve and track payments remotely.
Keep reading to get the full breakdown on how automated accounts payable works!
For more information on the state of fraud in ePayable today, check out the free and educational report from Ardent Partners!
Click on the report image — downloading is easy and fast.
Take the first step towards assessing and addressing the areas in your AP department vulnerable to fraud.
Click to download
Contrary to popular belief, implementing AP automation is not a process that takes years.
"Automation is too expensive, and it takes too long to get running," is a common response we get from organizations looking to advance their AP processes.. In truth, automating accounts payable and enabling electronic payments with the right platform has a low entry point, high returns, and a quick turnaround.
Not sure if your accounts payable process is already automated? Check out our recent blog post on this topic to confirm one way or the other.
Spoiler Alert: most departments are already partially — but not fully — automated.
Is your invoice processing workflow full of manual tasks such as sorting, categorizing, and entering invoice data?
This is true for a wide swath of U.S. finance departments. Ardent Partners finds that 48.1% of all invoices are still manual and not processed electronically. If you have a convoluted payment process, odds are, somewhere in it is too much paper.
If your invoices are still paper-based, this is a prime area to introduce automation and electronic invoices. Invoice automation simplifies your otherwise convoluted payment process. Check out this blog post to find out how.
Best thing about invoice automation in today's age? It enables remote approval! As the modern workforce becomes
more mobile, it's essential to have a process that allows invoices to be processed from anywhere your staff may be.
The benefits don't end there, it also:
Paper-based processes have left many organizations at a disadvantage for years. U.S. businesses are behind our European counterparts in this regard. Electronic payments are prevalent in our personal lives — and almost entirely lacking in our B2B payments.
Payment automation empowers AP departments to issue electronic payments remotely and more efficiently. Plus, it makes real-time tracking easy and gives you 24/7 access to payment information.
Externalities, such as email phishing attacks and spoof events, are inherently unpredictable, becoming more common, and out of our control. But we can control how we react to them.
Having the ability to adapt quickly is essential in today's world, and AP automation is an critical tool for finance departments looking to prepare for the unknown.
Do you like your current ERP? Most people do (at least to some extent)! ERPs are expansive and useful tools for businesses.
They make it easy to handle tasks that include business support, supply chain planning, supply chain execution and merchandising. It may even have a way to manage invoices and payments — usually as an extension you can purchase and add on to your current process.
That being said, your ERP isn't the best choice for automating your current payable processes. To go even further, it isn't the best choice on its own.
The right invoice and payment automation solution will integrate and work with your ERP — ensuring you get the transparency and transaction security from a proper payments platform without losing the ERP tools you like and are familiar with. ERP integration also enables remote AP solutions.
We can integrate with your ERP in a matter of weeks. We partner with well-known ERP's like the ones listed below:
AP automation comes with sweeping changes, and they differ for each role involved in the accounts payable process.
The human side of accounts payable (AP) automation.
Accounts payable management covers the day-to-day operations of accounts payable — they're the subject matter experts on how the department ticks and succeeds.
At its core, AP automation is a type of digital transformation. It's a technological tool that allows AP managers to become even better at what they're already great at.
Transforming accounts payable processing with automation gives staff:
Completely cloud-based and automated accounts payable frees IT personnel from dedicating their time and resources to AP upgrades and security risks. AP automation not only gives you more control over your department — it increases security at the same time.
Automated accounts payables equals:
This is another area that AP automation can advance. It creates a positive relationship between you and your vendors, which in return, allows you to work together rather than against each other. This makes increasing security to protect your interests — and theirs — a much smoother process.
Medius is designed and built for Microsoft Azure to provide our customers with the security, scalability and business continuity offered by the Microsoft infrastructure. In addition to security compliance and certifications provided by Microsoft Azure, Medius maintains SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, relating specifically to data security of the Medius platform.
At a high-level, CFOs are responsible for managing accounts payable strategy and goals, while Controllers focus on the connections between AP and the rest of the company. For both, it is essential to ensure that AP helps rather than hinders their company's growth and well-being.
AP payment automation = 100% control by enabling:
All of this is possible with a payables system that makes real-time business intelligence analysis easy. Accounts payable automation enables reporting and tracking from anywhere you have a laptop, tablet, and or mobile device.
Our AP solution allows you to track payments by type, payee, or vendor. Gain complete visibility into your accounts payable department.
Electronic payments and platforms make life easier for everyone involved in accounts payable. There are a variety of digital payment options out there, and they all have their own pros and cons. Keep reading to get details on what's out there!
There are many payment methods for AP out there. Enough that choosing what to use can be a challenge.
It’s no surprise that B2B eCommerce is rapidly growing. It's essential for companies to have a payment method and process in place to meet the increased demand on the horizon.
Ease and cost-effectiveness are often behind which payment method a company ultimately chooses as their primary B2B payment option. Here we'll briefly go over the different digital and no-touch payment options.
Over the years, automated clearing house (ACH) has managed to remain one of the top five most common B2B payment methods in North America. But with the rising movement to reduce costs — while simultaneously increasing security and streamlining cash-flow — forward-thinking companies are moving towards new technology and payment methods.
Regular ACH is a direct and electronic payment that isn't immediate. It can take anywhere between three and five days to process. It's essentially a check in digital form.
It has all the benefits and ease of paper checks without creating piles of paper to bog down your AP staff. Buyers like it because of how convenient it is and sellers like it because they get access to funds quicker when they don't have to wait on a paper check to arrive in the mail.
Even better, with same-day ACH sellers will receive their payment within one business day.
What is same-day ACH, you may ask? It's a newer and more immediate form of ACH. It will allow payment posting on the same business day if initiated before 2:45 pm. Studies show that same-day ACH is rising in volume with a 42% increase in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019.
The ability to make ACH payments recurring and automatic is their strongest selling point. It saves time, reduces paper, and ensures bills are paid on time. It also comes with a loss of control, less privacy, and the potential for automated payments that aren't monitored to overdraw or overpay a charge.
We can't talk about digital payment methods for AP without talking about the second most-preferred option for B2B in North America — wire transfers.
It also comes in second for incidence of fraud.
In a modern environment that includes increased remote working, this vulnerability to fraud has serious implications. Wire transfers are at a greater risk when authentication and network security are more lax.
Wire transfers also cost more because their use comes with greater bank chargers than methods like ACH. For this reason, wire transfers are predominantly used by larger firms that make and receive international transactions.
Purchasing cards (P-Cards) are a form of company card that enables goods and services to be procured without using antiquated purchasing methods such as paper checks.
They are issued to employees who are trusted to follow the guidelines you set for using the card. A variety of controls can be put on these cards, such as:
The major drawback to using purchase cards is that they're one of the least secure options — exposing companies to credit card fraud and identity theft.
Purchase cards are often confused with virtual cards (V-Cards). Check out this blog post to find out when to use one over the other.
Real-time payments (RTP) are one of the newer payment methods. It combines:
In terms of cost, real-time payments cost the same as other non-instant electronic payments and significantly less than traditional methods like paper checks.
However, it's important to be aware that RTP has risks. It is at a heightened risk for fraud and transactions can't be halted once finalized.
A real-time payment transaction is completed in less than five seconds, which removes any window to cancel a wrongly authorized payment. Virtual Cards
Last, but certainly not least, is virtual cards. V-cards are a B2B payment method that is rising in popularity. Approximately 26% of companies are planning to incorporate virtual cards into their payments strategy within the next year. We expect this number to go up as more companies invest in no-touch payment methods.
A virtual card is a 16-digit unique card number that is created to be single use. In practice, it is a virtual credit card that is designated for paying your vendors.
Swapping out paper-burdened payment methods with one that uses virtual cards will streamline AP processes, give you the ability to earn cash rebates, increase security, and enhance internal controls.
Keep reading for a deeper dive on the benefits that come from using virtual cards and debunk the myths going around about them.
The opportunity for new revenue is perhaps what entices companies to try virtual cards (v-cards) the most. The ability to earn monthly rebates is a game-changer. It's the difference between a department that operates at a loss and one that is earning money for your company.
Virtual cards can generate upwards of 1% cashback on AP spend. It's an immediate return on investment (ROI) on any transaction with a vendor that is done via v-card.
Still skeptical? Use our Savings Calculator to find out how much you stand to save.
Don't miss out on the chance to be the finance hero your AP team is looking for! Virtual cards make it possible to earn extra revenue, extra cash, in the course of your regular duties.
For every dollar of virtual card payments, you have the potential to earn a cash rebate when you select the right program. The more virtual credit card transactions, the more you earn back.
Leveraging virtual cards instead of outdated paper checks goes a long way towards streamlining your accounts payable process. The ability to remove manual processes makes the entire thing more efficient by default.
This allows accounts payable departments to focus less on processing payments and more on essential financial responsibilities. Relieve them of tasks such as:
It also eliminates the opportunity for human error by decreasing the amount of times a person is involved in a step of the payment process. Another aspect that protects against mistakes and fraud is that virtual cards are designed to be for one time use.
Virtual cards are a B2B payment type that is rising in popularity both because of the ease of their use and how much more secure they are than antiquated methods. A v-card is a virtual credit card, complete with a unique 16-digit card number.
They are designed to be used for paying vendors and come with heightened security standards, transparency for your staff, and easy processing. Virtual cards are designed to be single-use between a payer and a payee — and as the payer, you get to predetermine the amount paid.
Another part of what protects you is that virtual cards are just that — virtual. There is no physical card that can be stolen or re-used.
One factor that holds firms back from adopting virtual cards is the fear that they may be charged a fee by the card company when they issue a payment. In truth, the opposite is more typical.
Virtual card payments earn cashback and issue payments at no cost. As mentioned above, it's possible to earn up to 1% back on AP spend. This is why 30% of companies are incorporating virtual cards into their payments strategy and according to Ardent Partners, 26% more are looking to do so in the next year.
The best part of cashback on virtual cards is that it doesn't really require extra work. With the right program, you'll potentially earn cashback on any virtual card payment. Watch out for partners such as bank treasury programs that don't pay cashback monthly — they hold it on an annual basis or require that you hit a certain minimum before receiving your rebates.
Swapping out paper-burdened payment methods for one that leverages virtual cards will streamline your AP processes, open up new revenue streams, increase security, and enhance your internal controls. Adopting virtual cards isn't the major change that most expect. If your accounting system can output a check file, the right payment platform provider can convert the file to the correct format for virtual card payments and transmit it via secure FTP. Finding a solution that lets you keep control of your AP department and payment process is crucial.
It has never been easier to say goodbye to paper processes in favor of electronic payments and a digital workflow customized specifically for you!
A paperless accounts payable process will:
Why wait to take advantage of these benefits? We can take care of all the onboarding and system set-up for you.
Virtual cards are a key feature of an automated accounts payable process. They open the avenue for cashback and are more secure than other payment methods.
Are you interested but not sure where to start the automation process? Keep reading!
Most professionals agree that making a sweeping change in processes can be challenging.
Which is why it's helpful to break it down into stages. Any task broken down into smaller steps is easier to imagine and implement.
Imagine you're going to organize your closet. Just looking at it, at the clothes cluttered together, the mysterious boxes stashed away, will leave you unsure where to start. You might even lose motivation to even attempt the project.
But when you break it down into easy steps — such as pulling everything out first, then separating what's trash, what's being donated, and what you're keeping — it's less intimidating. We're going to do the same thing with AP automation.
The natural place to begin is with automating payments. It's the first step to removing paper from your accounts payable department. It's also a quick turnaround — with the right accounts payable software, automating payments is a natural next step.
Removing paper via accounts payable payment automation results in:
Checks remain the most targeted payment method for fraud. By shifting your risky paper-based payments to digitally disbursed payment methods like ACH and virtual card transactions, you significantly reduce your chances of being the subject of a successful fraud attempt.
There's never been a better time for businesses to transform their payment processes through automation.
“There’s a misperception that receiving an invoice as a PDF document attached to an email is an electronic invoice,” says Katarina Anderson, VP of Capture at Medius. “That’s not the case. That PDF is probably still going to be printed out at some point.”
One of the outcomes of the Covid Pandemic was the requirement for employees to work remotely to avoid the risk of exposure. This shift has driven companies to scan and email invoices out to their clients.
This not only provides a false sense of digitization — and lulls you into the mistaken idea that you have adapted to the low touch economy — it leaves you vulnerable to fraud.
Many companies believe they have already automated invoices because they no longer mail out or receive paper versions. However, they still manually scan invoice into their systems and input data by hand. So, even though most invoices are received via email, they're still required to open the email and print the digital invoice. Reintroducing paper to the invoice process. Modern invoice software that enables invoice automation to free up your AP staff, and it's infinitely more secure. It will also save you time and money. There is a cost to antiquated invoice processes, and often, it's a convoluted workflow that leaves you open to errors.
Automating paying invoices & enabling remote AP will:
There are many ways to automate your AP department and payment processes. The best way is to do it by working with your current ERP and processes — not getting rid of them. ERP accounting systems are valuable finance tools. They enable taking care of tasks such as business support, merchandising, and supply chain planning and execution with ease. There are ERPs that have an option to automate your payments, but often as an extension you pay to add on. Enabling payments via ERP integration is not only possible, it's the best way to do it. For automating your payments and invoices, it's crucial to work with a partner that understands the industry and has built a solution specifically to ensure your success.
Integrating with your ERP is easier than most think. The right payables platform has a low entry point, high returns and a quick turnaround. Our solution here at Medius can integrate with your ERP and get up and running in as little as 8 – 12 weeks. In accordance with our goal to make our solution easy-to-use and flexible, we partner with well-known ERPs such as Microsoft Dynamics.
Automating your finance department doesn't mean throwing out everything you’ve worked on to start from a blank slate. It's possible, even preferable, to automate and maintain your current processes. Automation can take the tediousness out of your processes while allowing you to keep the effective parts in place.
It's never been easier to transform your payments process. Keep your current processes and digitize payments and invoices at no capital expense. Fully automated approval processes and out of the box best practices will revolutionize your department and ensure your team can survive and thrive even should another unpredictable event happen.
Remote AP automation can be setup quickly and allow you to save time, money, and resources. Whether your ERP or accounting system supports multiple payment file types or can only generate a check file, our solution makes it so you can seamlessly migrate to making electronic payments of all types. You will be able to transmit to any bank or banks that you have a relationship with.
The ability to maintain your existing bank relationships is a good guidepost to ensure you're on the path of least resistance to accounts payable automation.
Our custom integration allows you to keep your bank(s) and accounting systems. We can also help you seamlessly migrate from an old bank to a new one.
The right partner is a key ingredient to success. Talk with our expert team today to see if we're the right partner for you.
Do you have an effective business continuity plan in place?
Many businesses didn't have an effective plan in place when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and had to scramble to find ways to accommodate their workforce move to remote environments.
The band-aid solutions included: off-site check printing, sending printers home with staff, and scanning and emailing invoice to vendors. These half-measures will work in a pinch, but are untenable in the long term.
Paper is inherently an issue for a business continuity plan. Physical invoices, checks, and the tools involved in those processes tether staff to the office. It can put your finance team in a position where they're taking printers and boxes full of paper home with them if, or more like when, the next big event occurs that requires us to quickly adapt to a new way of working.
With studies predicting periodic stay-at-home orders and the workforce largely happy working remotely — businesses need to lose paper in favor of electronic invoices and payments.
Digitizing your invoices and payments is the first, and most essential, step towards having an effective business continuity plan in place.
The large majority of people who have shifted to work from home have stated they want to continue doing so for the rest of their career, at least part of the time. Making offsite and decentralized processes not only allow your finance staff to work from wherever they want, it also has benefits for your current and prospective vendors.
This is done by:
Antiquated invoice processes are no longer a workable option. Digital payable platforms and invoice automation enable you to approve invoices on any device that has access to the internet.
Individuals and companies alike are looking to decrease their high touch processes in favor of low touch, with the goal of moving to autonomous processing - meaning only need to deal with exceptions. These processes allow them to complete purchases from the comfort of their home. Don't be late in joining the new high tech economy!
The ability to complete processes from anywhere is crucial for more than just invoices. It's also important to have the capability to process payments from wherever you or your finance staff are. Payment automation not only makes this possible, it also takes over the more tedious and mundane aspects of your workflow.
Having the flexibility to allow staff to choose where they're making payments from will also make your business more competitive when you're scouting for new talent. According to a new poll, 44% of professionals would trade a pay cut to keep working from home.
What's one of the biggest time wasters in an Accounts Payable (AP) office?
If asked, most would say it's fielding calls and emails from vendors for status updates.
A portal that allows your staff to have 24/7 access to the accounts payable process and statuses will not only make their daily tasks easier. It will also cut down on vendors asking for updates since they will also have transparent access to the portal.
This is essential for any business continuity plan since it allows around the clock updates for your staff and vendors. It will also make everyday life easier, even when you're not actively using your back-up plan. Having it place in the event of a crisis is what's motivating businesses to make the change now, but it will pay dividends even before such an event occurs.
The landscape of the business world, and the world at large, has changed.
Flexible work options that allow remote working are one adaptation that is going to last beyond 2020. Companies and staff alike have gotten a taste for the benefits of a flexible and low touch economy.
No-touch accounts payable is more than just a step towards achieving that flexibility — it's the future we were always moving towards. That journey has been accelerated by necessity. It's a key stepping stone to the fourth industrial revolution.
The main reason businesses hesitated to implement remote work on a large scale before was the bevy of unknowns. How would collaboration work? Would productivity suffer? What tools would their staff need in their home office?
These worries prevented corporates from making the change on any wide scale, leaving flexible work options to the select few whose role required it. Thanks to COVID-19, both staff and businesses found answers to their questions. Collaboration is still possible with creative solutions and advanced technology like video calls and real-time programs that allow staff to work on the same project simultaneously. Productivity doesn't suffer — for most it improved.
Recent polls have found that 54% of professionals report working remotely had a positive effect on their productivity.
The trick is communicating effectively, adapting to the changes brought by COVID-19, and preventing AP burnout among your finance department.
Per Forbes, the average U.S. business spends upwards of $12,000 per employee per year for office space. This number could be reduced, if not outright eliminated, by having a portion of employees continue to work from home.
Already businesses are looking into options that move away from leasing large office buildings to house their entire staff. Instead, they can rent smaller spaces for meetings that require being in person and to accommodate those who prefer coming into an office, while simultaneously keeping costs down by having the majority work from home. Some business may stay entirely remote now that technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has made remote collaboration less of a challenge.
The office settings that remain will look different compared to before 2020. They'll be designed to allow social distancing when required and to be low touch — not just in the function of the office but regarding what the staff does as part of their daily duties.
No-touch AP means that even the personnel that choose to come into the office can do so with minimal touch processes, a feature no one can afford to dismiss out of hand.
The future is here, and it's in the form of a high tech, low touch economy. The journey towards financial digital transformation isn't a long and leisurely anymore. Necessity has spurred it into a race against time and your competition.
Touchless invoice approvals and payment processes are an inevitable and crucial piece of our new low touch reality. With CFOs planning to shift a portion of their workforce to remote work permanently, it's essential to find an accounts payable invoice and payment solution that makes that workable. Autonomous payables solutions and automated processes are efficient — and more importantly — provide the flexibility and security needed for a team split between home and the office.
There are multiple routes to AP automation for companies, many of which include obstacles, detours, and dead-ends. However, with a few guidelines it's possible to find the path of least resistance forward.
Are some, or all, or your finance team working remotely? Not a problem! No-touch payments make remote accounts payable possible.
Empower your finance team to make no-touch payments — at any time, from anywhere.
Remote AP automation and no-touch accounts payable will:
There's never been a better time to transform your accounts payable department and leave behind paper processes. Our solution enables you and your team to handle the entire invoice through payment process from your kitchen table or from your office building. It gives you access to remote invoice approvals and payment issuing via 24/7 access to our secure cloud portal.
Thanks for reading our AP automation solutions and best practices guide! Check out our resources to keep learning or reach out for a conversation to take your AP department to the future.
Get ready for AP automation with six simple steps.
The cost and effort to automate accounts payable are minimal compared to most digital transformation projects, and the benefits are nearly immediate for the entire organization. The decision to automate AP should be a no-brainer, but where do you start?
Follow the six steps in our Buyer’s Guide to AP Automation Solutions to build a solid business case that illustrates how you can help your business save time and money, reduce fraud and risk, increase visibility to data and cash flow, and more.