What is Accounts Payable Automation (AP Automation)?
Accounts Payable automation (AP Automation) refers to technology that is used to streamline and automate accounts payable processes, removing manual tasks and providing better visibility and control over important financial data.
Accounts payable automation (AP Automation) enables companies to touchlessly process supplier invoices without any human intervention by providing a digital workflow to manage steps previously handled by an AP staff member.
Holistic accounts payable automation starts with capturing invoice data in a digital format, usually through a form of scanning or capture method, such as optical character recognition (OCR).
Accounts payable automation will then manage the coding and routing of the invoice through the digital workflow, which functions based on specific logic configured in the organization`s accounts payable automation software.
Accounts payable automation (AP Automation) will be integrated with a company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system(s), seamlessly transferring data between the two systems without straining the ERP environment or business IT resources.
Accounts payable automation significantly reduced the risk of fraud by giving management and AP staff unprecedented visibility and reporting capabilities into the flow of invoices and transactions across the company.
Accounts payable automation can provide significant cost savings for a company beyond the expected savings from eliminating manual tasks. Companies can optimize their vendor portfolio, avoid duplicate or erroneous payments, and take advantage of early payment discounts.
How to automate accounts payable?
Organizations who wish to automate accounts payable usually implement an AP automation solution that is connected to the ERP system and potential other business applications in place. Today, there are cloud-based accounts payable software options on the market to suit companies of all sizes and industries.
Automation of accounts payable works differently depending on the type of supplier invoices that is handled. For indirect spend or expense, invoices the accounts payable automation software will support automatic data capture, coding, and distribution of the invoice to the appropriate approver within the organization. For direct spend where there is a purchase order involved, the accounts payable automation system will automatically match the invoice data to the purchase order and, if everything matches, directly send the invoice for payment without any human intervention whatsoever. This is what is referred to as touchless invoice processing and the end goal of automation in accounts payable.
How to select an accounts payable software?
Companies looking to add automation in accounts payable should research different AP automation solution options carefully to ensure the best fit for their organization. It is critical that the accounts payable automation software selected can support every invoice processing scenario to ensure true automation of accounts payable and hard savings in time and cost. In addition, it is important to understand how the new AP automation solution integrates with the existing ERP to ensure synchronization of data and a streamlined process removing manual tasks and delivering automation of accounts payable.