Facing off with invoice workflow bottlenecks

  • 15 Feb 2022
  • AP Automation
Facing off with invoice workflow bottlenecks Image

Outdated workflows hold organizations back, especially with the increasing global support of a remote workforce. Working in a secure online environment and collaborating in real-time keeps businesses productive throughout as the world changes. However, invoice workflow bottlenecks slow down production and delivery creating delays in profitability. 

Management, including those in AP and Procurement departments, must address these concerns to prepare for an evolving marketplace. For example, custom workflows constantly require revising, while cloud AP automation products have defined workflows and know the variations faced to create a reliable standard. Discover how to face off against invoice workflow bottlenecks and streamline operations to get an edge on the competition.

What are bottlenecks?

Invoice workflow bottlenecks are delays that occur when the demand for a product exceeds the production capabilities of a company. As a result, the company faces delays or an inability to meet the market demand - which means lost customers and profits. Also, being unable to handle consumer requests harms trust and brand image.

With that in mind, inefficiencies in accounts payable hold organizations back. First, consider the impact of short-term bottlenecks, such as an employee on leave causing a backlog. Then review long-term bottlenecks, such as delayed reporting due to time-consuming tasks that hold back crucial end-of-the-month reports. 

Common invoice workflow bottlenecks

The common issues faced during invoicing include errors due to manual entry, late approvals, and missing documentation, leading to troublesome bottlenecks. Other typical invoice workflow bottlenecks include:

  • Invoices in unreadable formats
  • Invoices that need additional info for statutory compliance
  • Missing payee tax ID info & Invoices received in multiple currencies

 

However, performers and systems make a difference and determine whether team members or current systems are functioning correctly. Also, how does your company compare to the competition? Finally, benchmarking is another way to ascertain whether a business is ahead of the automation curve. With that in mind, the most significant concern in the AP department for most organizations is late approvals.

Manual and partially automated systems required some human intervention for invoice approvals. Complete AP automation plays a crucial role in streamlining this process for faster approvals and payments. Cloud automation makes it easy to approve invoices in seconds from any device or location, rather than invoices piling on a desk for days or weeks. Additionally, the most talented employees now want and expect automated processes to support visibility and remote work. As a result, it is critical to invest in an automated solution to secure top AP talent today and in the future.

How to identify bottlenecks

Process mapping examines whether the current workflow is working correctly and identifies current and potential bottlenecks. Use a flowchart and workflow audit that includes lists of steps in workflows, key results metrics, and monitoring of the workflow to ensure it meets or exceeds established standards. Finding the right AP automation solutions starts with identifying current processes and finding areas of improvement.

There are two ways to eliminate bottlenecks in the AP department. The first is by increasing the efficiency of each step, such as adopting cloud AP automation to eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual processes. And the second is decreasing the number of tasks required to complete each step, such as eliminating human intervention. For example, instead of forwarding paper invoices for back-and-forth approvals and follow-ups, invoices are approved instantly with a few clicks. 

Eliminating bottlenecks

Increasing efficiency and eliminating human intervention are the best ways to eradicate identified bottlenecks. The most efficient way to accomplish both is by investing in your organization's right AP automation solution. Unfortunately, partial automation leaves room for confusion and errors, requires periodic updating, and fails to support remote workers properly. Finally, outdated and slow manual processes leave organizations behind the global competition. 

AP automation eliminates the invoice workflow bottlenecks associated with outdated systems and manual processes, including late payments that cost organizations significantly over time. Plus, the AP team emerges from the back office to improve vendor relationships and negotiate discounts for early payments - helping the company save money and cover the cost of investing in cloud automation. Also, cloud automation updates automatically for optimal performance without additional time and intervention.

Invoice workflow bottlenecks include missing documentation, incomplete information, and late approvals. When organizations consider the cost of late payments and lost savings for early payments, it makes sense to invest in cloud AP automation to resolve bottlenecks and remain competitive in a tech-driven business world.

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