Using automation to optimize AP reporting

AP Automation Best Practices
  • February 18, 2020
  • Joe Perkins

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Using automation to optimize AP reporting

Using automation to optimize accounts payable reporting

Access to real-time information is critical when determining the financial health of your organization. Companies can use business data to optimize operations, evaluate risk, and analyze outcomes to drive strategy. But how do companies gather data?

Typically, accounts payable tasks have been handled manually, an extremely time-consuming, tedious process. Team members collect invoices and key in data by hand, which creates opportunities for errors, lost or misplaced invoices, and missed payments.

Accounts payable (AP) automation empowers companies to create stronger, more agile, dynamic accounting departments. With AP automation, accounts payable departments can streamline activities, such as purchasing, vendor approval, and invoice processing, into a centralized, efficient, digital workflow. But that’s just one of the benefits. AP automation platforms also capture organizational data in a comprehensive, searchable database of payment information and financial history.

Businesses can utilize this data for strategic planning, target setting, financial planning, forecasting, portfolio analysis, and performance analysis. AP automation platforms can provide a variety of financial reports in seconds that help accounts payable teams.

  • Remove invoice cycle bottlenecks
  • Reduce time-consuming audit preparations
  • Identify fraud risks
  • Improve relationships with vendors
  • Provide better cash flow analysis

Not only does this save the company time and money, but this valuable data can transition your accounts payable team from a back-office function into a strategic powerhouse. Here’s a look at some of the reporting features AP automation can provide.

Invoice cycle reporting

When the bulk of the invoices received by your organization are processed manually, it’s likely that your accounts payable team is overwhelmed. Under this stress, invoices often get processed slowly and paper invoices can be easily lost. Department leaders get frustrated by late payments and relationships with vendors can deteriorate due to a lack of transparency.

Using fully customizable workflows, AP automation ensures accounts payable departments have access to invoice information reports every step of the way, from intake to approval to payment.

Once an invoice is automatically captured and validated in the system, it’s routed directly to the manager responsible for approving the payment accompanied by notifications that help keep the invoice top of mind. Vendors can take any concerns directly to the approver, and approvers can rest assured that invoices won’t get lost in the shuffle. Automated payment execution allows you to schedule approved payments before their deadline and a reduction in late payments ensures companies can take advantage of opportunities for savings and volume rebates.

And, e-invoicing allows you to pay accounts immediately which can generate early payment discounts from many vendors. Never again will team members have to wonder where an invoice has gotten stuck or when a vendor will get paid.

Financial reporting

Company leaders often need progress reports or forecasting data on what will be paid over the coming weeks. Yet, many businesses still conduct reporting using manual data entry and spreadsheets that come attached with time-consuming, inconsistent, intensive efforts fraught with errors. In the world of paper, these reports can take hours or even days to compile.

With a cloud-based AP automation platform, managers can access a comprehensive, searchable database anytime, from anywhere in the world. Fully automated data capture and sophisticated analytics allow you to forecast a truer picture of costs and better control profit and loss—giving you more confidence in your financial predictions and reporting.

AP automation systems also log all interactions with timestamps, names, and dates. This allows for visibility and transparency into every transaction. Working from a single source of truth, accounts payable teams can deliver accurate reports more frequently, complete a financial close quickly, and dive deeper into company data to deliver strategic insights to other leaders within the organization.

Fraud reporting & compliance

AP automation platforms significantly reduce the risk of fraud by giving management and staff unparalleled visibility into the flow of invoices and transactions across the company. Using manual systems, paperwork can easily be misfiled, destroyed, or stolen. A digital approach offers a much higher level of security for you and your customers’ data.

When data is centrally updated and stored, CFOs can control and monitor access, so staff only touch the data that is relevant to them. In addition, numerous safeguards, encryption, and banking-level security measures work together to protect your documents and keep your company safe from phishing scams.

Automation also makes being in compliance simple and minimizes audit risk. Secure, permission-based access with audit trails make complying with accounting and industry regulations easier. You can track invoice history and approval, assure a chain of custody, apply controls for PCI, HIPPA, and other rules and regulations, and prevent documents from being destroyed or discarded ahead of deadlines.

Vendor reporting

AP automation helps provide a better experience between businesses and vendors. For starters, automation ensures vendors are paid on-time based on the terms of their agreements and eliminates costly late payment fees. Because invoice data is captured and logged in a historical database, managers and their teams always have access to invoice status reports. This means staff can quickly and accurately answer vendor questions regarding payment or settle a dispute within cost or timeframe. Accounts payable departments can also use AP automation systems to automatically alert their vendors during the invoice-to-pay process, so they know when to expect payment.

When it comes to purchasing orders, accounts payable managers can access information on supplies and inventory to ensure consistency between all departments.

Accruals reporting

Never again will your team have to manually calculate monthly accruals. AP automation platforms digitally capture and store invoice data, removing the need to enter information by hand. Automated processes make data immediately available for accrual reports and can be sent directly to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. You can also use digital accrual reports to compare costs against prior months and years immediately to ensure the most accurate analysis before finalizing your report.

With AP automation, your accounting teams can:

  • Provide vendors with one single tool that requests, collects, and pushes accrual estimates directly into your ERP system
  • Link fragmented transactions by automatically matching invoices to your company’s accrual estimates
  • Generate more accurate accrual estimates based on open purchase orders and historical data for each vendor

Dynamic reporting made easy

When it comes to reporting, Goby offers you more than traditional AP automation software options. Our AP automation software enables you to tag transactions and operational data with dimension values.

Most financial solutions use a hard-coded data structure for your accounts. But, tagging your data with dimensions enables you to easily add business context to your data and improve your reporting. Once created, you can use a dimension for any transaction such as payables, revenue, receivables, time, and more. These dimensions are integrated with Goby’s report generator so you can filter, group, and organize your data to gather the insights you need.

This flexible financial solution gives your company more transparency and insight into reports you need to drive growth and make strategic decisions.

A Complete Guide to AP Automation

The average AP workflow is full of manual, time-consuming, hands-on tasks. Imagine how much easier tracking and amplifying AP performance would be with automated workflows & processes. To learn more about how automated AP processes can save your company both time and money, download our complete guide to AP automation.

Rethink what AP can be

Joe Perkins

Joe joined Goby in June of 2019 as a Solutions Development Specialist. In his role, Joe has been an integral part of driving growth by sourcing new sales opportunities. He has been a trusted resource in developing relationships with prospects.

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