The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener for accounts payable departments. It has exposed how ill-prepared most departments are to support employees working from home.
At least 217 million people in at least 23 U.S. states, 84 counties, 17 cities and one territory have been urged to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the New York Times reports.
Ensuring that invoices get processed while staff work from home is a major challenge for accounts payable departments that process their invoices manually, or those that rely on antiquated on-premise systems. From capturing data and routing invoices to resolving exceptions and managing operations, manual and on-premise approaches to invoice processing were built for employees in an office.
Few organizations have the luxury of not processing invoices when staff can’t get into the office.
Unpaid invoices can result in:
- Supply chain disruptions
- Strained supplier relationships
- Late payment penalties
- Bad credit
- Reputational damage
That’s why more accounts payable departments are embracing cloud-based solutions.
Forty-nine percent of accounts payable departments that have automated their invoice processing use a cloud-based solution, according to Levvel Research’s 2019 Payables Insight Report.
Processing invoices from home
Cloud-based accounts payable solutions enable organizations to maintain frictionless invoice processing, even when staff work from home during the pandemic. Here are a few examples how:
- USPS, UPS or FedEx mail forwarding: If your staff cannot get to the office, forward your supplier invoices to a third-party that can provide cloud-based, end-to-end invoice processing, including scanning, intelligent data capture and digital workflow routing. A file with data on approved invoices is uploaded to your ERP. Fast turnaround times and guaranteed data capture accuracy ensure that suppliers are paid the right amount, on time.
- Intelligent data capture in the cloud: During the crisis, businesses may not have all the manpower they need for labor-intensive tasks such as data capture and validation, invoice approvals, exceptions resolution and posting. Make the most of your limited staff by scanning your invoices to a secure cloud, and a third-party will handle the rest.
- PDF invoice processing: If your staff is unable to get to the office, direct your suppliers to send their invoices as PDF e-mail attachments and a third-party can process them, based on your business rules. A cloud-based accounts payable solution eliminates the need to print or manually key PDF invoices, and the digital workflows provided by a cloud-based solution are more transparent, reliable and controllable than e-mail-based approval processes.
- Invoice approval in the cloud: Work-from-home mandates have disrupted the paper-based approval workflows that many organizations rely upon. Keep your approvals moving by scanning your invoices to a secure cloud and a third-party can facilitate digital and mobile approval with your purchasers, wherever they are located, based on your business rules.
- Virtual card payments: Pay your suppliers on time – even if you can’t get into the office to cut checks – and earn cash-back rebates on spend made with a card. Simply upload an approved invoice file to a secure cloud and a third-party can pay suppliers via virtual card.
Working from home is the "new normal".
Cloud-based accounts payable solutions provide organizations with the tools they need to keep their operations going when staff work remotely.