The 9 surprising benefits around automating invoices, procurement, and Accounts Payable systems
By Angela Murphy, Ph.D., Vice President of Business Development, Photon Commerce
Historically, Accounts Payable has been regarded as a back end function to a business, primarily set in the ways of very manual methods of processing supplier invoices. Recent years have called for large changes in AP functions, and there have been some game-changing innovations leading the way for companies to completely overhaul the way they do business, particularly around intelligent automation.
Make manual processing a thing of the past
AP leaders must use the rise in AI tech to put in place a secure, transparent cloud based system that allows for digital transformation. Manual Accounts Payable processes are not only a huge roadblock to remote working, but they are expensive and inefficient. The hours wasted on chasing paper copies of invoices, unnecessary data entry and manual approval of transactions could be much better spent on value-adding tasks. The Accounts Payable office of the future is disciplined and focused on cash flow and payment terms. It is strategic when it comes to spend management, and comes with far lower compliance risk.
Streamlining your processes will allow you to pay on time, every time. Not only will this strengthen relationships with your suppliers, but you will also be able to secure early payment discounts. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business, so why would you keep so much of it tied up in ineffective and inefficient AP processes? Particularly after witnessing the world being thrown into turmoil throughout the lockdown, now more than ever, it’s vital to get automated and be prepared for anything. Paying on time is imperative for maintaining supply chains, and should be a top AP priority alongside fast onboarding (without compromising on fraud controls) and value sharing.
The vision is clear
It is no secret that visibility is a huge factor in profitability and performance, but its importance has grown exponentially in AP innovation. Access to accurate data and KPIs is the only way to access your financial health and make the best decisions for your business.
With intelligent automation, companies gain a clear picture of:
- Cost to process each invoice
- Time to process each invoice
- Number of invoices processed by each team member, per day
- Percentage of invoices linked to a purchase order
- Invoice exception rate
Lack of visibility is one of the pitfalls of manual AP systems. In the world of automation however, you can have access to end-to-end visibility on cash, productivity and trend forecasting. Better still, this can all flow smoothly without interruptions or bottlenecks.
Strategic initiatives around automation
The concept of Accounts Payable digitization coupled with AI driven automation, is not necessarily new. However, in recent times, AP strategy has been at the forefront of discussions around the financial health and ultimately the success of businesses everywhere. As Accounts Payable becomes more integral to the success of an organization, the need for intelligent automation is growing. What we are finding is that although automation has been available for some time, it has been slowly adopted and has left many organizations unnecessarily vulnerable. On the flip side, early adopters were able to transition and as a result, their supply chains and bottom line are booming.
As businesses head into the future with an uncertain economy on the horizon, transitioning to electronic processing is absolutely critical for several reasons:
- Building stronger relationships with suppliers
- Keeping suppliers, customer relationships, and supply chains open and collaborative
- Optimising cash flow
- Providing flexibility to your team
- Enhancing fraud protection
- Enabling remote working with ease
- Eliminating unnecessary paper costs
- Ensuring transparency across all functions
- Track and trace costs, quality, inventory, and orders, and finances
Overall, manual processes only have the ability to work when staff and documents are in the same location. When there is a disruption to business, global pandemic or otherwise, any operations which rely on manual Accounts Payable functions can completely break down. The best way to get ahead is to invest in intelligent automation, utilizing artificial intelligence to streamline back office operations.
Dr. Angela Murphy has experience in artificial intelligence, financial technology, and the global payments industry, building on her skills as a storyteller and rhetorician. She engages at the intersection of strategy and insight to drive results for her clients. In her current role as Vice President of Business Development at Photon Commerce, she helps run a team that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve complex problems in the payments industry. Dr. Murphy received her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and currently resides in Kansas City with her husband, Brock, and German Shepherd rescue, Roscoe.