Processing supplier invoices has never been easy. But it is harder for many accounts payable departments now that their staff works remotely.
Using paper processes and e-mail to collect, route and post invoices results in a process that costs too much, creates too many errors, takes too long, provides inadequate visibility, and exposes the business to fraud and compliance risks.
It is for these reasons many accounts payable departments are planning to deploy invoice processing software. But some departments may still be on the fence.
Common challenges in invoice processing
Here are nine signs that it may be time to automate your accounts payable process.
1. Onerous supplier management. Using manual processes and e-mail/mail to onboard suppliers is costly, time-consuming and risky. Key documents may not be collected. Information may be miskeyed into your vendor master database. Approvals can drag on. And duplicate records can easily be created. An automated AP solution with a self-service supplier portal makes it fast, easy and secure to add or manage suppliers, even as a business grows. The top AP solution providers can even automate vendor exceptions back to the vendor without anyone intervention from your AP staff.
2. Late payments. If your business is paying late payment penalties, your approach to invoice processing may be to blame. Paper processes and e-mails can be lost, misrouted, overlooked, or “stuck” at the bottom of someone’s in box, particularly if they are out of the office. The digital workflows in an AP automation solution route unmatched invoices and invoices that require approval based on preset business rules, regardless of where the approver works.
3. Not enough time for strategic tasks. Accounts payable professionals spend the lion’s share of their day on repetitive, manual tasks such as data entry, and chasing down people and information. But there is growing pressure on accounts payable managers to free up their staff to focus on strategic tasks that can drive business growth and value – data analysis, forecasting, strengthening supplier relationships, and vendor master database cleanup.
4. Lots of supplier inquiries. If your AP staff is swamped with calls and e-mails from suppliers about the status of their invoices and payments, you are not alone. Suppliers can never be sure whether their invoice was received or where it stands in the process when their buyers rely on traditional approaches to invoice processing. A self-service supplier portal empowers suppliers by enabling them to submit invoices electronically, receive acknowledgement that their invoice was received, and check on the status of invoices and payments 24/7/365.
5. Too much email and paper. It is hard to adapt paper-based accounts payable processes to a remote working environment. And routing invoices via e-mail only offers marginal improvements. AP automation solutions digitize tasks such as supplier registration, invoice collection, invoice approval and exceptions handling, and supplier payment execution. Optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process improvement (RPA) and other intelligent capture technologies automatically extract and validate all header and line-item data from invoices with guaranteed accuracy of 99.95%.
6. Too many standalone systems. Taking a piecemeal approach to accounts payable automation can result in a hodgepodge of systems that complicate the user experience, make it hard to access critical information, and are costly to maintain. Many accounts payable departments have a separate system for each way that suppliers can submit invoices. A better approach is to deploy a single solution that automates the accounts payable cycle end-to-end with capabilities for supplier management, invoice management and reconciliation, and supplier payments execution. These solutions aggregate all paper and electronic invoices onto a single standardized platform and provide real-time visibility across the entire process.
7. Lots of check payments to suppliers. Compared to electronic payments, paper checks cost more, are more prone to errors, provide less visibility, and are more prone to fraud. It’s also hard to make check payments to suppliers when accounts payable staff Work from Home. AP automation solutions support effortless electronic payment execution and real-time reconciliation, while mitigating the risks of fraud. What’s more, buyers can receive rewards on their spend made with virtual cards, which is not offered for paper check payments.
8. Poor visibility. Accounts payable managers can never be sure where things stand when they rely on paper processes and e-mails for collecting, approving and posting invoices. It is hard for a business to manage its operations, cash flow and risks in this environment. Invoice processing software provides real-time visibility into the accounts payable cycle through graphical dashboards, key performance metrics, drill downs, mobile access, data exports, and ad hoc reporting tools.
9. No scalability. No accounts payable manager wants to vet, hire and train staff every time their invoice volume increases. But that’s what happens when businesses rely on manual processes and e-mails to process supplier invoices. Invoice processing software eliminates the repetitive, manual tasks that can make it difficult to scale your operations.
How to improve your invoice processing
If your organization is experiencing these issues, it may be time to deploy AP Automation software.
Accounts payable automation digitizes and simplifies invoice processing, no matter where staff work. Best-in-class AP automation solutions reduce invoice processing costs and errors, accelerate the accounts payable cycle, improve visibility, and mitigate the risks of fraud and compliance issues.
Automated accounts payable software also helps a business scale without hiring additional staff.
Are you ready to automate accounts payable?
Let’s arrange a time to chat about your invoice processing needs!