INTELLIGENT ACCOUNTS PAYABLE AUTOMATION
The Benefits of AP Automation for Each Stakeholder in the AP Process
The OneDataSource Editorial Team
February 21, 2022
There are three basic attributes that you would want from your accounts payable (AP) department: efficiency, accuracy, and visibility.
Yet, AP teams agree they’re still entrenched in challenges they’ve faced for decades. According to Levvel’s 2021 Payable Insight Report, the most prominent challenges are manual data entry, invoice-to-payment matching, lost and duplicate invoices, and an inconsistent organizational AP process. Unfortunately, those challenges have only worsened due to the pandemic.
With that in mind, there’s never been a more relevant time than now to streamline the AP process and directly address those challenges. Intelligent accounts payable automation can do that, enabling ease and efficiency from invoice processing to payment in a single customizable software solution. It can provide expense visibility, accuracy throughout the workflow, and control over your data and finances.
It also works at every level of the organization. It’s a major point that often gets overlooked. So, with that in mind, we’re defining exactly how each stakeholder in the AP process benefits from AP automation.
Benefits of AP Automation for AP Specialists
An inordinate amount of time for AP specialists in the past has been spent waiting on invoice approvals, whether that’s sitting on a desk or in someone’s inbox. That’s no longer the case when AP software is introduced. Routing, automatic approvals, and threshold levels result in a streamlined approval process. Invoices get in the hands of the right person, dashboards provide visibility into where they are in the process, and built-in reminders make sure they never fall through the cracks.
Efficiency extends further, though. For example, everyone in this field has felt the pain of audits at some point. AP software replaces that with ease. Digitized and centralized invoices mean you have a full audit trail and can quickly resolve any disputes.
All that efficiency creates a ripple effect, so AP staff is spending less time on manual data entry and more time focused on value-added projects.
Benefits of AP Automation for AP Managers
AP managers are charged with making sure their team runs efficiently and accurately. The issue is that error-prone manual processes hinder their ability to do so. Plus, stacks of papers or disjointed physical or electronic filing systems make it hard to have insight into finances.
AP automation software empowers them to shine a light on all that.
With data and reporting in a centralized location, AP managers can monitor team efficiency in real-time. Plus, they can easily access the invoice audit trail and monitor cash flow. Full spend visibility is at their fingertips.
Benefits of AP Automation for Field Managers
Legacy workflows lock teams into an invoice and payment process that could average 100 hours, requiring approvers to be in-person to keep things moving. The pandemic put even further strain on AP teams trying to operate in that model, to say the least. With a modern accounts payable software solution, that time is cut to 15 hours with the added benefits of workflows customized to a business’ AP process and the ability for approvals to happen remotely.
Vendor relationships are important to any business. With manual processing, when invoice exceptions or discrepancies occur it can be time consuming to resolve. AP automation helps you know the suppliers making up most invoices and spot issues early so that the team can move with greater speed. Greater speed means that you can take advantage of negotiated, early-payment discounts.
Benefits of AP Automation for Controllers
Controllers play an integral role in maintaining the financial health of the business. To make the best decisions, stay compliant, and ensure that expenses are in line with project revenue, they need visibility into accounts payable. Yet, in a legacy model visibility is murky at best.
AP automation software empowers Controllers with visibility. With AP automation, they can easily view invoices and payment processing, monitor spend budget by cost center, and quickly report on spend and cash management. They get the insights necessary to make accurate financial forecasts and support strategic business decisions.
When it comes to the auditing process, AP automation provides ease in the process. Controllers have the power to grant auditors access to invoices and supporting documents, so everything runs smoothly and without delays.
Benefits of AP Automation for CFOs
Scaling a business means you’re often moving quickly and inherently adding complexity. That type of business needs backing of a CFO with the latest financial data. One who can make the best recommendations on how to use capital wisely and guide the positive financial direction of the business. That requires real-time visibility into the metrics that matter most.
AP automation gives them visibility into a critical component of that financial data. With it, they can monitor budgets and spend overview. They have access to reporting and data to optimize cash management and analyze profit and loss. Plus, they can also make sure that as the business scales, the AP team is maintaining automation rate.
Of course, no team wants to be exposed to fraud. AP automation software also helps protect businesses against that risk. CFOs gain peace of mind with the ability to identify and eliminate unauthorized spending, assign access to invoice approval, and set requirements around approval layers.
Benefits of AP Automation for Treasurers
Optimizing cash management is a strategic part of leading the financial direction of a business. This is not news; however, without clear, real-time insight into your financial data, that becomes difficult to do. With AP automation, Treasurers can monitor opportunities to leverage cash and use funds most effectively for the business.
They also can conduct payments in the way that best suits the business, the vendor, or provides a better financial impact. For example, vCards offer an innovative way to earn cash rebates, creating a new revenue stream by conducting business as usual.
AP automation software also grants them more control and insight into overpayments. With it, they can manage payment authorizations, follow-ups, and early payment discount proposals.
Across a business’ entire AP operation, AP automation software can play an important role in driving efficiency, visibility, and accuracy.
Now is the time to evaluate your AP operation and explore ways to improve your back office and business. Use our Accounts Payable Health Check to see where your operation stacks up.
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