Deploying accounts payable (AP) automation software is a top priority for finance departments.
The business case for AP automation software is proven and compelling:
- Reduced costs
- Fewer errors
- Accelerated cycle times
- Stronger supplier relationships
But many AP leaders are unsure about what makes the best AP automation software.
One key consideration for AP leaders evaluating AP automation software is its ability to post invoices straight-through to an ERP application without the need for human operator intervention.
The best AP automation software posts at least two-thirds of the invoices that businesses receive via e-mail, file transfer protocol (FTP) upload or a supplier portal directly to an ERP application.
The touchless posting of invoices received via e-mail, FTP upload or a supplier portal enables accounts payable departments to significantly reduce operational costs, eliminate the chance of keying errors, accelerate invoice approval cycles, and free staff to focus on value-added activities.
How the best AP automation software reduces manual handling
The best AP automation software leverages advanced technologies such as software bots, machine learning and business intelligence to achieve a high level of straight-through invoice processing.
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 the platform to submit invoices electronically or to “flip” purchase orders (POs) into electronic invoices.
The result is that all AP processes are centralized onto a single platform. The best AP automation software also uses optical character recognition (OCR), e-mail invoice extraction, machine learning and proprietary technology to extract and verify data from each invoice according to pre-defined business rules. Invoice data is then matched against a PO. Matched invoices are seamlessly uploaded to any ERP application, including SAP, Ariba, Oracle, PeopleSoft and Infor. The best AP automation software also integrates 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), the software 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.
The best AP automation software securely archives the image of each invoice and its associated data.
Suppliers and internal stakeholders such as buyers, accounts payable, accounts receivable, collections and sales and marketing can use a supplier portal to instantly access actionable insights such as the total number of invoices received, the total value of invoices received, spend by unit, category and supplier, the percentage of invoices tied to a purchase order and more.
If your organization is trying to find the best AP automation software to improve visibility and achieve best-in-class results, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!