Key components of modernized AP processes for today’s digital marketplace
AP departments using today's top AP automation solutions through a content services platform no longer must depend on manual and paper-intensive processes.
Accounts Payable (AP) automation
Accounts Payable (AP) automation could streamline invoice processing – which minimizes manual work, accelerates invoice approvals and increases visibility into transactions.
AP teams that have adopted automation do so by integrating with key systems that increase straight-through processing percentages, provide role-tailored user interfaces and enable an instant and complete view of invoice activity.
On that note, what does the landscape look like for AP automation? When AP processes are largely manual, the Institute for Finance and Management (IOFM) states that:
- 91% of AP departments say processes are inflexible
- 59% of departments miss due dates due to operational issues
- 61% of AP departments dissatisfied with current ERP integration1
- 60% of organizations currently use a low-code development platform, and another 15 percent plan to implement one within the next two years
How AP automation works
Key integrations with ERP and other systems automate indexing and digital workflows, enabling workers to focus on exceptions and not on searching for information and supporting documents.
Users have immediate access to invoices and related content right from their ERP application, email inbox or smartphone.
Regardless of how documentation is received at the organization — electronically or in paper form — automated capture and indexing upon receipt enables workers to access needed information with a few clicks, markedly and securely speeding invoice processes.
Why does this matter?
Workers and managers alike have instant access to all invoice information and supporting documentation right from their familiar systems, as well as custom user interfaces that are point-and-click configurable, meeting the organization's unique requirements.
Managers can monitor process productivity with real-time reporting dashboards, allowing them to see the status of invoices, adjust workloads or identify bottlenecks.
Additionally, enhanced control over all digital documents enables key traceability, easing audits.
From AP processors to AP approvers, this seamless interaction increases productivity and efficiency across each stage of the accounts payable process.
This significantly lowers the cost per invoice and enables smart cash controls that benefit from early-pay discounts and improved supplier relationships.
IOFM states that:
- 14% of AP departments operate in a completely manual manner
- 9% of AP departments are fully automated
- 71% of AP departments plan to further automate in 2020
Benefits of Automating AP processes
The right AP automation solution provides numerous downstream benefits throughout your organization. Key components to look for include:
Immediate, intelligent capture
Capturing invoices at their source, whether they are scanned or delivered electronically, significantly shortens processing times.
Intelligent capture should automate the extraction of data contained in the invoices and leverage corresponding ERP data to make invoices available for processing quickly and without the need to manually key information.
Instant accessibility from familiar user interfaces
Imaged invoices, as well as other related documents, should be accessible directly from corresponding AP records. This eliminates the time-consuming and error-prone task of staff having to physically search for payment information.
Rather, they should be able to quickly retrieve invoices, goods receipts, packing slips, check images, vendor contracts and even historical correspondence directly from the ERP screen with a few mouse clicks. Additionally, the solution should provide enhanced document management features like built-in related document views, revision and version control and detailed histories.
Strategic, bi-directional integration
Digital workflows integrated with the ERP or other systems should automatically route invoices for issue resolution, review and approval, notifying approvers via email or mobile where required. They should also be highly configurable, allowing organizations to create custom processes to fit unique organizational or regulatory needs.
The solution should automate predictable decisions throughout the transaction lifecycle, minimizing the number of touches per invoice, and increasing AP process efficiency.
Inherent and ironclad security
Application security is key and should both reduce risk and ease compliance. The right AP automation solution protects data at rest, in transit and in use.
It also provides configurable access controls and continuously tests for vulnerabilities. Look for automated document retention capabilities that prove consistent disposition and instant response to exceptions and audit requests.
Optimal performance, including fast deployment with minimal IT support
Top low-code content services platforms with intelligent capture enable template-free, human-like machine learning for deployment at the speed today's organizations require.
They also provide the ability for non-developers to quickly adjust solutions to meet evolving needs with minimal IT support.