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How manufacturing companies benefit from AI-driven accounts payable automation

The manufacturing industry is vast, complex and full of challenges. From supply chain hiccups to cybersecurity threats, talent shortages, and shifting consumer preferences, leaders have plenty of business priorities to tackle.

According to Deloitte, "many manufacturers look to continue to pursue their digital transformation objectives—even as some may be considering pausing investments because of the challenging business environment." And, like many industries today, manufacturers are exploring the possibilities of artificial intelligence.

As manufacturing companies delve into AI investments to enhance processes, efficiency and value, there’s one crucial back-office function to remember: accounts payable.

Why is accounts payable automation important for manufacturing companies?

Manufacturing is complex, and so are its invoices and invoice processing. With intricate supply chains, vast supplier networks, and high invoice volumes, there are unique challenges in accounts payable that only accounts payable automation can help solve.

There are many benefits AP automation can provide to manufacturing companies, and you can explore them in this article, which shows how AP automation:

  • Boosts operational efficiency
  • Helps workforce productivity
  • Improves accuracy and compliance
  • Streamlines with integration to manufacturing systems
  • Supports growth
  • And much more

There is a lot of evidence showing AP automation is a financial investment worth making for an industry mired with complex challenges. However, the role of AI in AP automation solutions and how it benefits manufacturers might not be immediately obvious. So, let's dig deeper into this topic to get a clearer picture.

How artificial intelligence in AP automation solutions benefits manufacturers

A solid AI-powered AP software solution can affect more than the finance department. It can transcend benefits to the entire manufacturing operation. Some of these ways include:

AI-powered AP software makes invoice processing seamless, reducing the manual effort for tasks like data entry and approval workflows. For example, a three-way match for complex receipt matching between invoices and POs brings efficiency to a cumbersome task. From small tasks to larger process workflows, improving AP efficiencies with AI ensures smooth payment processing, which has a ripple effect on approvers throughout the organization, suppliers and more. 

Manufacturers are also constantly under the radar to keep costs down. AI-powered AP slashes operational costs linked to manual data entry, paper-based transactions and time-consuming approval processes. The cost savings in the accounts payable department directly impact the overall financial health of the manufacturing business. Realizing payment discounts, eliminating duplicate payments, and reducing out-of-policy spending often open more budget dollars for more critical needs.

It's very important to keep operations running smoothly, invest in growth and maintain financial stability. As manufacturing gets faster, leaner and more complex, AP's financial optimization becomes even more crucial. Predicting cash flow trends and optimizing payment schedules using AI capabilities can have a transformative impact. Establishing the right infrastructure through automation is crucial for making informed decisions across multiple business departments and maximizing profitability.

Strong supplier relationships are really important to maintaining smooth manufacturing operations. Efficient AP processes minimize the risk of disruptions from payment delays and disputes, which means suppliers get paid on time and accurately. When suppliers receive payment on time, they are happy. When they are happy, you build trust and collaboration and create a more stable supply chain.

AI provides more accurate and faster insights to help business leaders make data-driven decisions. Finance teams can analyze patterns, spot cost-saving opportunities and strategize using real-time financial data. This has broader implications for planning and optimizing manufacturing processes.

Because manufacturing companies deal with large volumes of invoices and data, they are prime targets for fraudsters. Having fraud prevention strategies is critical, and AI plays a significant role in managing risks because its powerful algorithms can quickly spot anomalies and potential fraud. When you protect the huge volume of financial transactions and follow regulations, you proactively safeguard your organization from financial risks that can impact the entire operation.

Integrating AI-powered AP software with ERP systems enables smooth financial data flow across departments. It enhances visibility and coordination, connecting finance with manufacturing, logistics and other core functions.

Manufacturing businesses operate in environments with strict regulatory requirements, often dealing with multiple regulations in global settings. The amazing thing is AI in AP software automates compliance checks, minimizing the risk of errors and ensuring adherence to industry regulations. It's important to keep financial transactions on point and avoid penalties.

Delays in invoice approvals can lead to production slowdowns if suppliers don't get paid, which affects employee productivity across the organization. AP solutions that automate and continuously learn where and when invoice approvals should go will ease that burden. Plus, by automating routine tasks in the AP process, AI helps boost employee productivity in the finance teams. Finance teams can then focus on more strategic tasks, contributing to overall workforce productivity and effectiveness across different business functions.

How AI works in accounts payable solutions

The mystery of AI can be simplified when you break down what AI really means and its application to the accounts payable process. The truth is, it's evolving every day, but that’s the beauty of it. Technology that can quickly learn, adapt and improve will set your business and AP function up for success. If you want to dig deeper into AI in accounts payable, take a look at these resources:

Breaking down AI buzzwords in accounts payable

How AI is strengthening AP’s most important functions

How AI is transforming the world of finance with AP automation

For manufacturing accounts payable resources, browse some real examples and solutions that can keep your business running the way it should be – ready for whatever comes next.

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