How to Jump Off the Invoice Processing Treadmill

Posted by Cathy Ferro on Apr 15, 2020 2:05:54 PM
Cathy Ferro

The accounts payable departments at most businesses must feel like they are on a treadmill.

Invoice Processing TreadmillMuch of an AP pro's day is spent on manual invoice processing:

  • Keying invoice data and matching invoices and POs
  • General ledger (GL) coding
  • Tracking down approvers
  • Physically routing invoices
  • Following up on invoice approvals
  • Resolving invoice exceptions via back-and-forth e-mails and phone calls
  • Keying information on approved invoices into an ERP
  • Handling supplier inquiries
  • Printing, stuffing and mailing paper checks
  • Reconciling checks and invoices

In fact, the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) finds that transaction processing consumes 84 percent of the average accounts payable professional’s time, leaving only 16 percent of their time for value-added activities such as data analysis, supplier management and vendor master cleanup.

The results of IOFM’s AP Key Performance Indicators Study underscore the burden of manual invoice processing.  Of the 69 full-time equivalents (FTEs) employed in accounts payable departments (on average across all locations), all but one FTE performs invoice data-entry.

It is no wonder that improving invoice processes and eliminating manual AP tasks rank among the top of accounts payable leaders.  They recognize that they need to spend less time on AP and invoice processing and more time on value-added activities such as spend management and cash flow analysis. 

How AP automation solutions eliminate manual tasks.

Automated accounts payable solutions eliminate manual invoice processing tasks such as data entry and paper shuffling, filing and retrieval, freeing accounts payable staff to focus on things that matter more. 

An AP automation solution leverages advanced technologies such as a digital mailroom, intelligent data capture, dynamic workflows, a supplier portal, seamless integration to any legacy ERP, and business intelligence to post a high percentage of invoices straight-through.  

Accounts payable robots (or “bots”) log into an e-mail box, FTP site or online supplier portal to retrieve invoices for processing.  Suppliers also can use an online portal built into an invoice processing platform to submit invoices electronically or to “flip” purchase orders (POs) into electronic invoices.  The result is that all accounts payables processes are centralized onto a single platform. 

AP automation software uses optical character recognition (OCR), e-mail invoice extraction, robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (MA) and proprietary technology to extract and verify data from each invoice according to pre-defined business rules.  Invoice data is guaranteed 99.95% accurate and then matched against a PO.  Matched invoices are seamlessly uploaded to any ERP application, including SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, NetSuite, Sage, and Infor.  The best AP automation solutions also integrate with supplier billing systems to deliver detailed remittance data. 

Unmatched invoices, or those without a PO, are digitally routed for approval based on configurable business rules.  If any data required for approval is missing from an invoice (such as a PO number), an AP automation solution sends an e-mail to the supplier’s billing department.  The supplier then clicks a link, inputs the required information and re-submits the invoice.  The data input by the supplier is validated in real-time, eliminating the possibility of back-and-forth e-mails.  

Without automated accounts payable solutions, AP staff will keep running on the invoice processing treadmill.

Learn more about the strategic benefits of AP automation solutions.



What does an AP automation solution do?


Tags: Accounts Payable, Accounts Payable Processing, Invoice Processing, AP Automation, AP Transformation, Accounts Payable Visibility, accountspayablesoftware, best ap automation software, Artificial Intelligence in Accounts Payable, Accounts Payable Solutions, Accounts Payable Automation, Invoice Automation Solution, AP Invoice Automation