How AI is strengthening AP’s most important functions

Easing burdens and frustrations of AP teams

Being in accounts payable can feel overwhelming –especially during busy times like month-end or year-end close. You're handling a ton of daily transactions, keeping track of invoices and making sure payments are accurate and on time. With so much to do, you often drown in tasks, chasing down papers, fixing errors, and finding the right information. Add on the fact that the accounts payable team is crucial to a company's cash flow and reputation with suppliers. Payments slip through the cracks when the workload is too much, and relationships can become strained. It can be so frustrating for AP teams.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

But there is good news: AI in accounts payable can be a helping hand, easing the burden and taking away some of the stressors of manual, tedious tasks. Let’s dive into how AI strengthens accounts payable’s most important functions and helps you rest easy and get more done.

eInvoicing: precision with AI

Traditional paper-based invoicing systems are a real headache, filled with errors, delays and inefficiencies. Over the last decade as businesses have grown and become global, it became clear the industry needed a standardized electronic invoicing system. eInvoicing emerged as the hero, letting buyers and sellers exchange digital invoices.

eInvoicing is a crucial function for accounts payable driven by the digital era and automation. But the real magic happens when we bring AI into the mix. AI tech like machine learning and natural language processing revolutionizes and optimizes nearly every aspect of the invoicing process. Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Automated data extraction

    One main hurdle in traditional invoicing is the manual data extraction and validation. But with AI-powered eInvoicing systems, machine learning algorithms do the heavy lifting, automatically extracting important invoice details like invoice numbers, dates, line items and amounts. This not only cuts down on errors but also speeds up the entire invoicing process.

  • Validation and compliance checks

    AI performs rigorous validation checks, complies with internal policies and regulatory standards, and protects against errors and potential penalties. This is a sigh of relief for many AP professionals like you. Worrying about compliance with both local and international invoicing regulations can be eased with AI’s help reducing the risk of legal and financial penalties.

  • Faster approval workflows

    AI can also revolutionize approval workflows by analyzing past patterns and routing invoices accordingly. That means no more chasing down the right person. With advanced technology and sophisticated algorithms, AI enhances overall efficiency, streamlining decision-making processes for rapid and informed actions. Faster workflows mean more productivity for you and better experience for your team.

  • Dynamic invoice matching

    AI-powered eInvoicing systems automatically match invoices and purchase orders, flagging any differences for review. This can save tons of time, especially for businesses with large invoice volumes. Bottom line: businesses pay for what they ordered and you avoid overpayments or disputes.

Master data sanity: accuracy with AI

Managing master data in accounts payable has been a challenge in the past with manual maintenance and inefficiencies, but now AI can step in and help. AI can constantly monitor and validate all the important details like vendor info and GL codes and handle auditing and corrections. You get more accurate, up-to-date data and save costs – that sounds good, right? Let’s look at a few ways AI helps with master data:

  • Automated data cleansing and verification

    AI tools are changing the game in data management by automating the verification and validation of master data. This not only boosts accuracy in financial records but also cuts down on risks. With AI algorithms, errors in important information like vendor names, addresses, and banking details can be easily spotted and fixed, ensuring everything is accurate and up-to-date. You don’t have to worry about going in your system to correct information line by line and vendor by vendor. Plus, machine learning for AP models can analyze past data to find patterns and anomalies – cleaning up messy data and eliminating duplicates.

  • Duplicate entry identification

    Ever get tired of all the dupes? AI algorithms use smart techniques to identify and remove duplicate entries, creating a strong framework for maintaining clean, consistent, error-free master data. This helps your organization with efficient vendor management, thorough analysis, and effective fraud detection – for better operations and more trustworthy data.

  • Continuous data maintenance

    Instead of spending valuable time manually reviewing and fretting over data, you can now rely on the power of AI to provide ongoing data sanity. With AI continuously monitoring and updating master data, your data stays up-to-date and reflects real-time supplier information, which saves you time, effort and frustrations.

Supplier relationship management: connectivity with AI

You already likely know effective supplier relationship management is crucial in AP, but it can be tricky sometimes. AI enhances AP processes and can actually improve communication, foster collaboration and facilitate seamless data exchange with suppliers. Too good to be true? No, it is real. With AI-driven solutions, you can streamline supplier interactions, optimize efficiency, and drive greater value across the entire AP ecosystem. Here are a few ways AI improves supplier relationships:

  • Smart connections and interactions

    AI-powered tools, including virtual assistants, enhance communication by providing real-time updates and addressing queries for stronger supplier relationships. It’s pretty cool stuff when you break it down. AP teams are responsible for delivering accurate and timely payments, which can significantly impact supplier relationships. AI tackles this challenge head-on by enabling faster invoice processing, consistent payments, and fewer errors, which makes your suppliers happy.

  • Proactive problem solving

    No one wants to have problems, but the reality is challenges exist for all businesses and functions, including AP. But, once again, AI is helping with proactive problem-solving abilities. AI algorithms can analyze historical payment data to accurately predict future payment patterns. It can even identify the best times to make payments. This insight is invaluable for you to plan and communicate payment schedules to suppliers. Plus, AI-driven systems can easily automate payment reminders to suppliers. This way, both sides know what's coming up. It's a proactive approach that reduces the chance of late payments and builds trust and reliability. And here's the best part: AI can quickly catch any issues or discrepancies in invoices and payments early on–often preventing disputes.

  • Data-backed insights

    Data is only data until you can make sense of it. By offering valuable insights into the supply chain, AI helps spot areas for improvement, optimize processes, and promote collaboration. This leads to a more strategic and win-win relationship. AI-based fraud detection systems play a critical role in safeguarding against fraudulent activities. Integrating AI into supplier portals improves the user experience by providing real-time updates on payment statuses, streamlining interaction, and enhancing workflow efficiency. With the right analysis and insights, your supplier relationships will remain strong.

Straight-through processing: efficiency with AI

Straight-through processing (STP) in accounts payable is a seamless and automated process that handles the entire invoice entry and payment cycle. It encompasses capturing invoice details, approval workflows, payment processing and report generation. It’s a hard one to achieve, but AI has revolutionized STP in accounts payable, enhancing efficiency by automating and streamlining invoice processing and payment workflows. Let's explore how AI reinforces STP in accounts payable:

  • Automated invoice approval

    With AI-driven straight-through processing power, you can automate the approval of invoices that meet predefined criteria. This means less manual work and faster processing times. Plus, thanks to AI-powered OCR technology, you can automatically extract invoice information without the hassle of manual data entry. AI algorithms can even classify invoices based on predefined rules or make suggestions based on historic coding from previous invoices, sending them to the right workflow or approval process and getting invoices off your desk faster.

  • Fewer errors

    Manual, tedious tasks are not only frustrating and take a lot of time, but they are prone to more errors. When AI comes in to automate, the accuracy of AP transactions increases because it matches invoices with purchase orders and receipts, ensuring everything is precise and compliant. AI also double-checks information against set rules and highlights any differences, which means fewer errors and less need for manual fixes. Plus, AI is clever enough to spot any exceptions or discrepancies in the invoicing process and send them to the right people for resolution. This way, routine and error-free transactions can sail through STP smoothly, while exceptions get the attention they need from human operators. Less manual work for you to do, less errors to correct.

  • Dynamic data analysis and insights

    AI uses historical data and supplier relationships to optimize dynamic discounting programs. It decides whether to take advantage of early payment discounts, smoothing the process. Plus, AI seamlessly integrates with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, ensuring data flows smoothly between accounts payable and other financial modules. This reduces manual data transfers and reconciliation efforts, boosting efficiency. And with AI's natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, it can understand and interpret unstructured data in invoices, including free-form text. This makes data extraction more accurate and improves STP efficiency even further.

Cash flow management: predictive insights with AI

Cash flow is always an important topic. Accounts payable professionals are always looking for ways to improve working capital management. On-time processing is crucial for maintaining good relationships with suppliers and, in turn, financial wellness. With AI-powered software, you can easily track invoice due dates, avoid late payments and penalties and improve your organization's cash flow. Plus, automating accounts payable processes gives you more time to focus on strategic tasks and projects, reducing overtime costs and improving work-life balance. Let’s look at a few ways AI helps with cash flow management:

  • Predictive cash flow forecasting and analysis

    Accurate forecasting and analysis are important in finance and for your stakeholders, so getting it right is important, too. AI uses historical data and market trends or predicts future cash flow trends, helping you stay one step ahead of future cash needs. By diving deep into payment data, vendor behavior and other relevant factors, AI algorithms paint a vivid picture of cash flow patterns. In addition, AI takes invoice approval workflows to the next level by forecasting approval times based on historical data.

  • Dynamic discounting optimization

    AI-powered algorithms leverage advanced data analysis techniques to optimize dynamic discounting strategies. With the power of artificial intelligence, you can effectively harness early payment discounts while maintaining a steady cash flow. These algorithms evaluate factors like payment terms and historical data, enhancing dynamic discounting programs. This helps you strategically manage cash flow, negotiate favorable terms with suppliers and capitalize on valuable early payment discounts.

  • Fraud and compliance monitoring

    Fraud –the scary word. It seems every day, fraudsters are finding new ways to infiltrate. But, AI-powered fraud detection for AP systems shields organizations from fraudulent activities that can wreak havoc on cash flow. It can quickly spot fraudulent transactions and uses advanced algorithms to beef up security, safeguard the organization's financial assets and minimize risks. AI also monitors regulatory compliance to ensure strict adherence to financial regulations in accounts payable processes. It can help you be proactive, dodge penalties and legal entanglements and ensure a steady cash flow.

Reporting and analytics: insights with AI

Real-time analytics in accounts payable is important for anticipating cash needs, managing working capital and achieving optimal cost savings. Because AI-enabled analytics tools can quickly gather large volumes of data to generate predictive insights quickly and accurately, you can make more informed decisions. Leveraging trends and patterns in real-time, AI gives you better visibility into accounts payable operations. Here are a few ways AI is improving AP analysis:

  • Advanced data analytics

    AI tools analyze extensive datasets, giving AP professionals like you actionable insights that empower them to make data-driven decisions. By integrating data from various sources like invoices, purchase orders, receipts and other financial documents, AI creates a unified platform for comprehensive analysis. With advanced algorithms, AI not only uncovers insights, trends, and patterns in large volumes of accounts payable data but also offers predictive analytics, going beyond traditional reporting.

  • Benchmarking and performance metrics

    You always want to know how you are performing against standards and competition. AI-enabled AP benchmarking is a great sought-after benefit. AI boosts performance metrics by identifying important indicators, trends, and areas for improvement within AP processes. It helps compare AP performance metrics with industry standards for better practices and provides detailed invoice processing efficiency and accuracy metrics, including processing times, error rates and exceptions. This allows you to continually review and enhance your AP process and gain insights on performance compared to peers.

  • Reports and dashboards

    AI makes it possible to create personalized dashboards and visualizations of performance indicators and insights in a user-friendly way. This makes using and viewing financial data more fun and straightforward. AI systems use NLP to generate reports in natural language, summarizing key findings and insights, which helps non-technical stakeholders understand complex financial information better and make better decisions.

It's no secret that AI-driven accounts payable processes are always evolving. As new features emerge, AP teams can expect less stress and more help handling manual tasks. Using AI-powered automation makes AP functions smoother, allowing you to focus on strategic initiatives and important tasks. With AI as your trusty sidekick, you'll be happier, your CEO will gain more insights, and your suppliers will be pleased. It’s a win-win for all involved.

AI-powered accounts payable by Medius

Find peace of mind with truly autonomous accounts payable with Medius. We’ve been leading the way in AI-enabled accounts payable and are not stopping. Check out all the ways our solutions can help you get more done and stress less.

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