Transforming Accounts Payable through Automation : 5 Benefits

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We now live in a world where a new class of digital tools are reshaping almost every aspect of business communication and interaction. You don’t have to look far to see the spectacular impact of cloud, robotics, analytics, artificial intelligence, automation and more. These are some of the digital disruptors along with transforming accounts payable automation that are really changing how business today gets done.

So what does all of this mean for the future of finance? Quite a lot actually.

Most businesses are already seeing a vast array of benefits from automating key processes in other business functions, so why should finance and accounts payable be any different? Certainly, automation of invoice processing can be achieved more easily and cost-efficiently than often anticipated and the range of benefits can be profound.  Read on and learn 5 key benefits of document processing automation and how this can help your business keep pace with ever changing demands as you embrace the future of AP.

  1. Save Money
    In the accounts payable world, money leaving the business, rather than coming in, is an accepted norm. However, process automation can help the team maximize opportunities for cost efficiency. Automating supplier invoice processing will help increase any early payment discounts you may be missing so you’ll be able to start saving money.  Conversely, it mitigates the risk of late payment penalties that often come hand-in-hand with manual, inefficient processes. It’s a simple equation, maximize what comes in and minimize what goes out.
  2. Save Time
    Manually processing tens or hundreds of invoices each day is a time consuming, costly and risk prone exercise for the AP team. Automating this key process can save your department a lot of time; in many cases businesses save a staggering 80%. So you’re not only boosting the productivity of your team by enabling them to increase the amount of invoices they can process per person, per day you’ll also be able to drive greater business value by being able to redeploy them to more productive tasks.
  3. Reduce Errors
    Based on our own research, 66% of decisions makers want to simplify and automate their document processes, particularly incoming processes, which are still largely manual. This is in part to reduce resulting errors. Manual processes involve a lot of human intervention which can lead to duplicate payments, input errors, missing information and missing out on early payment discounts. These errors cost the business time and money every day and in a worst scenario can have dramatic implications on governance, compliance and reputation too.
  4. Approve on the Move
    We operate in a world of ‘business anywhere’. Many Finance and Department managers like to keep up-to-date on company expenditure at all times, wherever they are working and in most cases incoming invoices require manager approval. Automating your supplier invoices enables managers to approve invoices no matter where they are or on what device they are working from, be it desktop, smart phone and even tablet. So your business faces less delays and resource bottlenecks, and you can maximize production speed and agility.
  5. Increase Visibility
    Imagine a world where anyone in the business could locate a single document within seconds. Using an automated solution for your supplier invoices will allow anyone with an interest to be able to view a digital copy of the invoice at any time they need it. It will also enable tracking invoices from receipt all the way through to payment. As well as providing productivity and transparency, this drives critical business benefits when it comes to governance and compliance. With such visibility, any audit process becomes far less resource intensive and resulting costs are often significantly reduced.


Real World Success: Mitsubishi Electric
Global leader Mitsubishi Electric was manually processing 25,000 invoices per year resulting in a huge amount of human error and duplication not to mention difficulty in establishing a sufficiently robust audit trail.  The business wanted to speed up its invoice processes and free up staff time. Process automation has given the business 90% straight-through processing, dramatically reduced cost and processing time, freed-up staff time for value-added activities, instant document visibility and a complete audit trail from start to finish.


So, where could automation benefit your business?
Your AP team does not have to spend hours of time consumed within manual data entry or searching for lost documents out on workflow approval. This can become an efficient, streamlined automated process, fully integrated into your current ERP systems. Not only does this make everyday tasks less costly and resource heavy but also speeds up the invoice processing times which ultimately boosts agility, team productivity and supports better supplier relationships.

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Post by Cathryn Brimhall