Save time and money on the AP process: automation solutions for 2020

  • 18 Mar 2020
  • Technology & Innovation
Save time and money on the AP process: automation solutions for 2020 Image

Finding savvy ways to improve the AP process and overall work conditions boosts productivity and increases the bottom line for businesses. Eliminating manual processes is the primary concern for 47 percent of industry accounting personnel. The tedious days of comparing signed checks against purchase orders and invoices are quickly coming to an end. AP automation solutions save time and money to make a massive impact across an entire organization. There are many AP solutions out there, but not all focus on true automation. The ultimate goals are to remove manual tasks for good and allow for fully touchless processing. Consider the solutions businesses should implement in 2020 to discover the many advantages of true AP automation.  

An AP automation solution for everyone 

With numerous AP solutions on the market today, businesses of all sizes and types have a viable solution to streamline operations and facilitate a touchless accounts payable process. While most businesses recognize the need to automate processes in the modern business world, not all solutions are authentic automation. And there is no need to select the second best when a best-of-breed solution is available to support any kind of organization and its current processes. To reap the benefits of this technology investment, companies must recognize the difference between digitizing a workflow and applying intelligent technology to automate the entire AP process.  

When organizations look beyond basic digitization, questions arise about robotic process automation (RPA), which is not the same as AP automation. RPA is a development toolkit or script that can support an automated feed of data from one source to a defined field in a system. It is important to understand that with RPA, you do not get the intelligence needed to for example capture invoice data at the line level and automatically match each invoice row to the corresponding purchase order. Also, there is no way to improve matching that may exist and be limited in the ERP. While RPA has its place in the constantly evolving world of technology, it does not deliver meaningful results for authentic AP automation. Choosing the right AP automation solution is crucial to saving time and money by totally eliminating manual processes.  

Reduce the cost of doing business 

A cost-effective AP solution matches the unique needs of the organization. The workflow for PO invoices and non-PO invoices is different. As a result, it is essential to ensure the solution can effectively automate both processes, including complex invoice scenarios specific to the business or industry. Keep this criterion in mind when selecting accounts payable automation solutions for 2020 and beyond: 

  • Define the scope of current invoice processing and consider likely growth in the future 
  • Map the current AP process to identify the needs of the organization 
  • Identify system dependencies 
  • Capture IT requirements 
  • Research, audit, and compare solutions to present a strong case to the C-suite  

Companies recognize there are necessary costs to conduct daily operations. Paper-based processes are expensive. Manual processes can lead to a lengthy closing of the accounting period, potential human error, missed early payment discounts, late payments, poor visibility into the spend and invoice process that results in inaccurate cash forecasting and poor audit controls. Plus, automation reduces the overall time of approving and recalling invoices. The use of AP automation solutions can reduce the number of steps it takes to process invoices. With cloud-based automation, data is shared instantly in real-time where it can be accessed anytime and anywhere for the review and approval of concerned parties. Key data is well-organized in one place, saving managers the effort and time involved to search for paperwork. Companies save on mailing costs, reduce AP hassles, and have a happier accounting staff. The AP team has more time to focus on analytical work, such as finding opportunities to save money, rather than plodding away at mundane tasks.  

Get alerts immediately and process pertinent data now 

Consider the time it takes to handle invoice approvals manually. It can take days to process an invoice that sits on the desk of a busy manager. AP automation solutions issue alerts immediately, such as a late invoice that should be paid immediately to avoid late charges or supply interruptions. There is no need to make ongoing phone calls or send emails as the system automatically sends reminders. Many solutions have an AP workflow module, which often does not provide the focus an organization requires to automate the accounts payable process completely. Companies need to adopt a designated automation solution that is focused on simplifying the AP process for everyone involved. The solution should include user-friendly tools for approvers, vendor notifications, and data reporting tools.  

Automation eliminates the time-consuming guesswork associated with a manual AP process. Plus, the C-suite and management can instantly get a complete picture of the AP department to make improvements as needed. Real-time access ensures a continuous AP workflow that benefits the entire company. Invest in technology that requires less handling of invoices, so they get to the same endpoint faster and with a higher level of accuracy. And automation helps support growth and scalability. 

Choose an end-to-end AP solution for optimum efficiency 

It is crucial to have an end-to-end AP solution where invoice data capture and workflow is managed in one system for a consistent flow. This type of solution ensures high data quality and enables high automation levels for the ultimate level of efficiency in the AP department. The system is easy to learn and use, which eliminates the confusion typically associated with adopting new technologies. The result is real-time access to the most accurate data available with no interruptions or lags.  

Another necessity is a solid connection to the ERP where the master data sits. Nearly all vendors have become cloud players, making it the de-facto standard for business applications, including AP processes. There must be an uninhibited flow of data between the ERP and the automation solutions to support the convenience of touchless AP automation, a legitimate way for companies to save measurable time and money. And relying on cloud technology enables people to work anytime and anywhere, which encourages flexibility and innovative working situations such as remote employment to attract more talented women to financial careers. 

Automation solutions improve the AP process and help companies save time and money. Now automation is the standard of the present day. Adopting automation solutions helps organizations stay relevant and competitive as technology takes a new and more substantial role in the productivity of the workplace. Plus, companies with touchless AP automation are saving time and money while they improve the bottom line. 

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