Five AP Processes You Should Automate to Save Time & Money
Five AP processes you should automate to save time & money
Why should you automate?
Accounts payable automation can help your company improve processes, save money, and create a happy, collaborative, organized work environment. Through automation, AP professionals can do more in less time and move their focus from repetitive manual tasks to strategic, meaningful work.
AP automation software dramatically increases productivity; invoices are processed faster, manual data entry and coding errors are reduced, there are no lost or misplaced invoices, approval cycle times are minimized, and payables are routed automatically and instantaneously.
Automated workflows also reduce late payments, ensuring companies can take advantage of opportunities for savings and volume rebates. E-invoicing allows you to pay accounts quickly, which can generate early payment discounts from many vendors.
Ultimately, the savings in time, rebates, and discounts can add up to tens of thousands of extra dollars, dramatically increasing your ROI from implementing automation.
So, what can you automate?
Here are five AP processes you can automate into one optimized workflow that provides improved efficiency and dramatic time savings.
1. Invoice Receipt
Vendor invoices can be complex documents that arrive through many different mediums and in many different formats, such as an electronic (PDFs, Word docs, or images), fax, or paper via the mail. Manually sorting, categorizing, and inputting these invoices can be a complex task that takes employees a significant amount of time, especially when they have hundreds of invoices to process.
Simplifying your AP workflow by automating your invoice collection, sorting, categorizing, and data input upon arrival can save tedious hours of invoice processing time. When sent electronically, invoices can be automatically processed in real time and the data is extracted automatically ‘as is’ and error-free using OCR technology, all of which is customized by you. Asking your vendors to submit e-invoices eliminates paper and allows you to completely automate your workflow from beginning to end, which means you won’t get stuck scanning documents or manually inputting information.
You can also automate recurring invoices that repeat at the same interval. Your AP automation software can match a recurring invoice against a template or contract and flag it if there’s a discrepancy.
Automating your accounts payable process also means you’ll be alerted to duplicates and reminded of pending due dates. You’ll never mistakenly overpay an invoice, pay an invoice twice, or be in danger of making late payments.
2. Routing & Approval
Invoices must go through a series for approvals to ensure validity and accuracy before payment. This process involves many different stages and approvers. When invoice approvals are routed manually, from desk to desk, there’s a greater chance for the invoice to get lost. The process can also take a long time and tends to result in late payments (along with late payment penalties).
Automating this helps simplify the routing process and speeds up approval times. Once an invoice is captured and validated, it is automatically routed directly to the manager responsible for approving the payment, accompanied by fully customizable workflows and notifications that ensure the invoice doesn’t get missed. And with cloud-based software, approvers can access and approve invoices from anywhere, at any time.
3. Data Extraction
Manually scanning documents and inputting data is, let’s face it, boring and time-consuming work. This task requires hours of intensive labor ripe for input mistakes and duplicate data entry. AP automation software extracts digital and handwritten data and automatically captures it, ensuring invoice data is input accurately, increasing productivity, and reducing invoice cycle time.
Not only does automatic data entry save invoice cycle time, but fully automated data capture and sophisticated analytics allow you to forecast a truer picture of costs and better control P&L, giving you more confidence in your financial predictions and reporting. Eliminating invoice errors and duplicate payments also means no more rebalancing of the books when you find last-minute errors during the month-end close. Another great feature is all captured data gets immediately and automatically synced across your entire accounting department and can be utilized throughout the entire organization.
4. Purchase Order Matching
Part of the accounts payable process involves reviewing each invoice and matching it against purchase orders and other relevant documents line by line – yet another manual and laborious process.
AP automation software stores all necessary and supporting documents as well as captures and digitizes invoice data so information such as GL codes, line item information, terms, and amounts can be intelligently extracted and verified according to your predetermined workflow rules. Additionally, this automated process compares invoices to their corresponding POs and flags any mismatches.
Automatically matching invoices removes bottlenecks, improves accuracy, and frees up your AP staff for focus on strategic projects and analytical work that supports organizational efficiency and growth.
5. Making Payments
When hundreds of payments are being authorized on a monthly basis, it’s critical that staff in charge of cutting checks or making online payments has full knowledge of all payment due dates, including applicable early-pay discount deadlines. When staff gets overwhelmed or invoice approval processes fall behind, it’s easy to miss payment deadlines – a costly and unnecessary issue in many accounts payable departments.
By automating payment execution, you can schedule approved payments to be sent out on or before their deadline. AP automation also makes electronic payments simpler by providing one central location from which to choose your payment method of choice.
The benefits are clear
The benefits of digitizing invoices and capturing their data are clear: teams can streamline approval workflows, cut invoice processing time, eliminate mistakes, ensure on-time payment, improve working capital management, and optimize performance, all while driving rapid ROI.
Automation empowers companies to create personalized workflows that create stronger, nimbler, and more efficient accounting teams. And, with Goby’s Capture Once, Report Everywhere technology, once data is captured and automated, you can take your reporting to the next level with sophisticated, clear, and actionable analytics and cross-platform benchmarking.