Accounts payable automation is critical to helping businesses navigate difficult times.
Automation digitizes and simplifies manual tasks such as supplier management, invoice management and reconciliation, and supplier payment execution, allowing businesses to reduce invoice processing costs and errors, avoid late payments, and free staff to focus more time on higher value activities.
AP automation software also makes it easy for businesses to scale and adapt their operations.
All this helps position the business for future success and growth.
What to look for in an AP automation solution
But businesses won’t achieve the full benefits of deploying an AP automation solution without the right software.
Here is the ultimate checklist of what to look for in an invoice processing system.
- Digital Workflows. Many accounts payable departments are leaning harder than ever on e-mail to route invoices for approval, especially while staff work from home. But e-mail routing of invoices may be creating more issues that it solves. E-mail can’t ensure consistent workflows,
...doesn’t offer visibility into the status of an invoice,
...doesn't provide chain of custody assurance,...doesn't ensure separation of duties,
...doesn't track all actions taken on an invoice,
...and doesn't prevent staff (even well-intentioned ones) from inadvertently deleting invoices ahead of schedule. AP automation solutions include workflow tools that allow for invoice routing based on an organization's business rules, faster exceptions resolution and direct posting to an ERP.
- Graphical Dashboards. The information that flows through accounts payable can be invaluable in assessing the operational performance and financial health of the business. Unlock your data with invoice processing software that offers real-time graphical dashboards, drill down capabilities, key performance metrics, mobile access, effortless data exports and business intelligence tools.
- Supplier Management. Strong supplier management can result in lower operational costs, quicker time in supplier registration and receiving goods, and a lower risk of compliance issues. Take advantage of these benefits with an AP automation solution that digitizes the supplier onboarding process, the collection of necessary data and documents, and provides a self-service portal for communicating with suppliers and improving visibility into the process.
- Electronic Payments. Compared to electronic payments, paper checks are costlier, more burdensome to generate, more error-prone, less transparent and riskier. Leading accounts payable automation solutions streamline payment execution and reconciliation by supporting multiple payment methods, upload of a single payment file, and real-time reconciliation. And businesses can potentially earn cash-back rebates on payments made with cards.
- Cloud Infrastructure. The sudden shift to remote working has disrupted the way that businesses receive, approve and post invoices. Remote working has become far more prevalent than ever before and current trends predict that this trend will continue. It is imperative to deploy a solution that supports remote operations and keeps staff aligned when they can’t meet in person. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions provide 24/7 accessibility and visibility from any location or device.
- Smart Controls. The sensitive financial data that accounts payable processes is a tantalizing target for fraudsters. Look for accounts payable automation software that will help securely control your operations, no matter where staff work. Prioritize capabilities such as user permissions, data encryption, and complete audit trails of all actions taken on an invoice.
- Adaptable Technology. An AP automation solution is foundational technology. It should provide the flexibility and agility to help your business meet its short-term operational need and easily adapt to new business requirements and ever-changing market conditions. Top tier AP automation providers are able to understand your current business process, adapt that to technology, and ultimately improve that process through technology and automation.
- Integration with your ERP. The ERP is the financial nerve center of a business. It doesn’t make sense to deploy an accounts payable automation system that doesn’t integrate seamlessly with your ERP or other systems of record. Leading AP automation solutions are agnostic to any system and connect with ERPs from SAP, Oracle, Sage, Microsoft, Workday, Infor and other providers. This tight integration facilitates direct posting of invoices, eliminates the need to re-key data into the ERP, and provides 360-degree visibility into invoice and supplier information.
- OCR for AP. Manually keying data from supplier invoices is one of the most labor-intensive and error-prone tasks in accounts payable. AP automation solutions include optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and other intelligent technologies that automatically extract and validate all the header and line-item data from invoices with an extremely high degree of accuracy. Some technology providers even guarantee the level of accuracy. IPS guarantees a data capture accuracy of 99.95%, which far exceeds many other AP solution providers. Supplier invoice data can be matched against purchase order and proof-of-delivery information in an ERP, allowing accounts payable departments to post many invoices without human operator intervention.
Achieve efficient invoice processing
With the right AP automation software, advertising agencies, media buyers, healthcare organizations, property management firms and other businesses can streamline invoice approvals while refocusing staff on strategic tasks such as data analysis, forecasting and vendor master database cleanup.
Are you ready to automate your accounts payable department?
Contact us to schedule a free online demonstration of the IPS AP Automation Solution today!