Using technology to automate manual processes in the workplace is not a new concept. Still, over 40% of respondents to a recent survey say they spend at least 25% of their time on manual, repetitive tasks.
When it isn’t automated, accounts payable is one organizational process that becomes unnecessarily time-consuming and inefficient. But AP automation can eliminate manual tasks every step of the way, cutting costs and inefficiencies from the point of receiving an invoice to the point of payment.
Here’s how AP automation eliminates manual tasks.
Receiving invoices from vendors and routing them for approval can be woefully inefficient without automation. One issue is that vendors may send invoices to many different people in your organization, who may or may not hustle to get them routed for payment. Another is that invoices may come in many different forms – email, snail mail, etc. – and processing multiple types of invoice formats can lead to cracks in the system.
Automation can streamline invoice processing by enabling vendors to send invoices any way they choose – paper, email, PDF, etc. – but then processing those invoices through a single online gateway before they are routed to the AP department. Staff members will no longer have to touch an invoice until it’s ready to be reviewed and approved or rejected.
In addition, multiple staff members will no longer need to receive invoices – every bill can be sent to a single address, email, or online portal.
The act of coding and approving invoices also contains hurdles. When invoices are shuffled from desk to desk or email inbox to email inbox, it’s easy for a bill to fall through the cracks. You may not know what happened to an invoice before it lands in your lap, or who should be looking at it next. This causes holdups and lost invoices, but it also creates opportunities for fraud.
An automation platform can route invoices to the right people based on the vendor, the amount due, or other organizational controls. Once someone codes and approves an invoice, it can automatically move to the next person on the approval chain. The need for phone calls and email follow-ups is eliminated – users automatically get notified when they have an invoice to review.
Printing and signing physical checks can quickly become wasteful and time-consuming, and checks may await signature for days on end when managers are traveling. AP automation lets the payment approvers manage and schedule payments within one online system, from anywhere they have internet and access to a computer or mobile device.
Once payments are scheduled, processing electronic and paper payments are handled by the automation company, and you can avoid dealing with banks or signing paper checks.
After payments are made, the relevant data – such as check images and remittance info – is stored in the system for easy follow-up.
Lastly, automation provides a holistic view into accounts payable for the entire organization. Managers can get a full picture of the bills coming in and the payments going out during any time frame, and staff members can look up bill and payment information should inquiries arise. Every invoice will also have a digital audit trail from the point it was received to the point it was paid, which is extremely valuable for internal purposes and in case of an audit. Relevant accounting data is also synced with your accounting system, giving you a full view into your organization’s AP.