INTELLIGENT AP AUTOMATION
3 Benefits to a Digital Transformation of Your Back Office
April 15, 2021
There are several different definitions for the term “legacy.” But when it comes to business, this definition stands out…
leg·a·cy (adjective): of, relating to, associated with, or carried over from an earlier time.
There are some areas where legacy can relate to something positive like the legacy a founder left on his business. In other instances, legacy has a negative connotation like a legacy approach. Unfortunately, it’s the latter connotation when it comes to a legacy approach to accounts payable.
In this digital age (not to mention today’s new environment), there are some real, tangible benefits to a digital transformation of your back office. In this blog, we’ll explore the key areas and get to the bottom of what a cloud-based AP automation approach could mean for accounts payable departments everywhere.
Attract and hire the best talent.
Create operational efficiencies and bottom-line improvements.
Gain greater visibility and control of finances.
Attract & Hire the Best Talent
Over the past year and a half, we’ve all experienced an abrupt shift in the way we conduct business. That shift included 80-90% of knowledge workers conducting their work from home. While changes to our working patterns may endure into the future, what will undoubtedly remain is the need to have the right technology in place to support flexible work.
With cloud-based AP automation, such as an application like onePAY, your back office can be decentralized geographically but centralized technologically. Your AP staff can process from anywhere, your AP managers or specialists can have peace of mind around AP activity, and leaders have oversight while also freeing time to focus on more strategic initiatives.
Back-office digitization provides more flexibility to your current staff, but it also allows organizational leaders to widen their net in recruiting efforts. In a not-too-distant past, hiring meant requiring workers to relocate or being restricted to talent within the immediate area of your headquarters. That’s not true any longer. With access from anywhere, you’re given the opportunity to find the most talented finance and accounting leaders available no matter where they are located.
Electronic storage in a centralized location allows for anytime, anywhere access and reduces the reliance on tribal knowledge. And with efficiency comes productivity.
Efficiencies & Cost Savings with Cloud-Based AP Automation
Outside of the flexibility with your workforce, cloud-based AP automation delivers gains, both hard and soft. Moving from a legacy process to a modern approach equals:
Efficiency. A legacy AP process is riddled with manual, time-consuming tasks. A modern approach automatically brings efficiency to the forefront with streamlined workflows. Electronic storage in a centralized location allows for anytime, anywhere access and reduces the reliance on tribal knowledge. And with efficiency comes productivity. AP staff spends less time on data entry and more time focused on value-added functions. Plus, when the business is ready to scale, cloud-based AP automation can easily scale with it.
Joey Anderson, Owner/Operator at WenGap, LLC, saw first-hand the benefits of cloud-based AP automation to scale. “We were looking to grow so having [onePAY] integrated from the get-go was a huge advantage for us being able to move forward and grow. Now, we’re at 22 restaurants and the weight of the admin has seen very little burden with the help of onePAY.”
One key benefit certain to pique the interest of any financial leader is how cloud-based AP automation delivers cost savings. Here are some of the ways it introduces savings, including:
- Expected savings from process automation and avoiding duplicate or erroneous payments.
- Hard costs like check stock, stamps and envelopes are eliminated.
- Bundled payments introduce cost savings with a singular transaction at a low rate.
- Businesses can take advantage of early payment discounts.
Back-Office Digitization Delivers Visibility & Control
When it comes to your business and finances, no one would argue that greater visibility and control is a bad thing. But what does that mean exactly?
With visibility, it means gaining the ability to have your pulse on AP down to the invoice-detail level no matter where you are in the world. For someone like James Bodenstedt, President & CEO of MUY! Companies, that can be profound when operating nearly 800 restaurants across Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut with revenues right at a billion dollars.
“The biggest benefit we receive from onePAY is the insight into our invoices at any moment that we need to,” said James. We can drill down and see that.”
Then, there is the factor of control. Greater control means oversight of your overall financial operations, including areas like:
- Permission settings so you can feel confident that the right individuals have access to the information appropriate to their role.
- Electronic invoice approval and thresholds so you can eliminate manual work, while having insight into approval activity.
- Exception reports so you have visibility over vendor spend and activity.
- Fraud detection so you can proactively spot and manage issues.
Let’s dive into those last two areas a bit further.
Visibility into vendor spend and activity results in greater accuracy. That’s not just related to whether you are paying everything properly. It’s also related to your relationship with vendors. For example, James’ team uses onePAY to conduct database searches. He notes, “we can compare the same kind of work by different vendors. We can also compare the same work by the same vendors and look for discrepancies with what they’re trying to charge us either from a location or from job to job.” That puts you in a position of power and confidence when it comes to decisions and negotiations with the vendors you work with.
Then, there’s fraud, a topic eternally on business leaders’ minds, especially in the digital age. Scammers exist to exploit businesses both big and small. It’s an unfortunate fact. And if you were in business over the last decade, you may have been attuned to a particularly glaring case involving Google and Facebook, each paying out $23M and $100M to a single fraudster, respectively. How did it happen? The technique used was invoice fraud.
The good news is that back-office digitization can make sure the right systems are in place, so fraud is detected quickly. Intelligent AP automation like onePAY helped one business catch a fraudulent vendor and prevented money from being lost to a scam. Plus, by working with software vendors that act as true partners, everyone in the customer network can benefit. In this case, customers across the network were alerted to be vigilant for similar scams within their accounts payable environments. That means everyone stays a step ahead.
Interested in evaluating the health of your current AP operation?
The Accounts Payable Health Check is a 20-question evaluation guide that helps you examine the maturity of your accounts payable operation and explore ways to improve your back office – and business.
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