Revolutionizing Finance: The Role of AP Automation in the Modern World
As the need for strategies to maintain business continuity grows stronger, CFOs like you are turning towards emerging technologies to boost efficiency and ROI. So, what are the crucial initiatives driving digital transformation in finance? AP automation for a start.
In this blog, we’ll dive into six elements of accounts payable automation that can help modernize your financial operations and bring a wave of financial stability —and CFO stress relief— to your organization. We’ll cover:
- Workflow automation with artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Fraud and risk management control.
- Data and analytics for greater visibility.
- Working capital management pros.
- IT implementation importance.
- Growth and scalability essentials.
1. Workflow automation
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are essential components of modern workflow automation. Specialized accounts payable automation software harnesses this technology and delivers plug-and-play functionality. Using super smart AI technology in traditional invoice-capture methods drastically improves accuracy. And the best part? AI never gets tired, rarely makes mistakes and gets smarter with every invoice processed.
Autonomous accounts payable software solutions use multiple AI technologies, like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Machine Learning (ML), to learn and autonomously process all invoices in an inbox. After implementation, autonomous AP does not require human intervention and continues to self-improve with every invoice.
It’s that simple—and you can see the benefits (like increased visibility and control) immediately.
2. Fraud and risk management
Every CFO has that recurring nightmare—you know, the one about the data breach? Even though fraud is rising – with 41.8% of fraud occurring within private businesses, 25% of finance professionals are unaware and unable to estimate how much invoice fraud has cost the business.
Most companies don’t realize fraud often comes from within the company itself, with many holding roles for up to five years, as was the case with Vernon Beck, whose story you listen to on our Accounts Deceivable podcast.
Fortunately, the right accounts payable automation software gives you greater control by covering areas like privacy and data security, fraud detection and network security. A complete audit trail is essential for risk management. AP automation software leverages multiple roles-based user authentication for security and processing accuracy and provides a secure cloud environment that guards against potential cyber threats and malicious fraud attempts. Intelligent automation and analytics can detect anomalies or suspicious activity before it happens, saving you headaches and money.
3. Data & analytics
You’re the CFO. It’s time to get in the driver’s seat! Today’s data-driven environment allows you to move from reacting to data to predicting trends. Gain greater visibility by curating powerful data with a modern, cloud-based technology stack that includes the right AP automation software.
The best AP automation software solutions can give you a holistic view of spend – which means you can spot potential risks or duplicate invoices as they occur so you quickly resolve issues. A holistic view of spend gives you and your team the answers you need when you need them, including:
- More accurate and timely forecasting.
- An accurate picture of cash flow.
- KPI tracking and improvement.
- Real-time errors and fraud notifications.
- Less human error and intervention.
4. Working capital
Transparent, real-time invoice and reporting processes make it easy to free up working capital. Automation workflows must allow users to collaborate across departments to maximize efficiency and improve liquidity, leaving extra time for your teams to focus on strategic initiatives.
Accounts payable has long been overlooked as just a back-office function, with little recognition for its contribution to growth and competitive advantage. Today, however, it's the hub of spend management expertise, controlling much of the business-critical data that steers your agenda as CFO. Your AP team is a critical contributor to working capital optimization, particularly when working with the Procurement department. Getting the most from people and process sounds good, right?
5. IT implementation
It’s time for the accounts payable close-up. Organizations across all industries and revenue brackets are spending more on AP – meaning CFOs need a standard framework for evaluating and making IT spend decisions.
CTOs and IT professionals are leaning on finance teams to invest in AP automation software solutions that make their lives easier. Today, this means cloud-based, AI-backed solutions that are easily integrated into other systems, like your ERP, and provide secure and fast results. Automating accounts payable is a cost-effective, low-effort alternative to other digital transformation projects, and its benefits are both immediate and widespread. As CFO, this should be a no-brainer win-win with your IT team.
6. Growth and scalability
An integrated AP automation software system is crucial to future growth and scalability. So do yourself a favor: choose a system that won’t create more liabilities and disparate systems. Instead, find a tool that seamlessly connects to your existing ERP(s) and business systems. Better yet? Find one that won’t compromise the standard footprint, allowing you to scale as needed.
For fast-growing companies, AP processes can be a huge burden or a sigh of relief – depending on the tools they have for support. When you are backed by the best technology, your people and processes thrive – leaving room for more productivity, greater efficiency and the ability to scale. You can keep your focus on critical growth initiatives and stay out of the weeds when your AP team has the right tools in place.
AP automation delivers relief on the stressors above and so much more, helping your business:
- Save time, cash, and effort.
- Reduce fraud.
- Gain full visibility.
- Stay compliant.
- Remove bottlenecks.
- Simplify sourcing processes.
- Maintain scalability.
- Streamline cross-channel communication.
- Eliminate paper-based supplier agreements.
These perks are well worth fighting for and present a solid business case for AP automation. Want to learn more about autonomous accounts payable? Check out our resources, or contact us for a quick consultation.
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.
What is AI prompt engineering, and how does it work with accounts payable automation?