Max the ROI of Automating Your Accounts Payable Processes

Automation is revolutionising how companies handle their AP

In today's fast-paced business environment, organisations are constantly looking for ways to streamline their processes and improve efficiency. One area that has seen significant transformation in recent years is accounts payable (AP) processes. Automation is revolutionising how companies handle their AP, offering a range of benefits, including reduction in manual errors, faster processing times, and improved supplier relationships. However, to truly maximise the return on investment (ROI) of automating your accounts payable processes, q strategic approach is important.

Assess Your Current AP Process

Before jumping into automation, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your existing AP process. Document each step, from receiving invoices to making payments. Identify pain points, bottlenecks, and areas prone to errors. This assessment will serve as a baseline for measuring the impact of automation and help you set realistic goals.

Set Clear Objectives

Define specific and measurable objectives for your AP automation project. These objectives should align with your organisation's overall financial and operational goals. Common objectives include reducing processing time, minimising late payments, increasing early payment discounts, and enhancing data accuracy.

Choose the Right AP Automation Solution

Selecting the appropriate AP automation software is a critical decision. Look for a solution that offers the features your organisation needs, such as invoice capture, approval workflows, cloud or on premise, integration with your existing accounting system, and analytics for tracking performance. Evaluate potential providers carefully, considering factors like scalability, user-friendliness, customer support along with business stability and roadmap development.

Implement Intelligent Data Capture

Automated data capture is one of the key benefits of AP automation. Utilise technologies like intelligent capture – but beware of standard optical character recognition (OCR). Technology has grown in capability and there are much improved data capture rates for solutions using intelligent capture using machine learning to extract relevant data from invoices accurately. Intelligent data capture reduces the risk of manual errors and speeds up the processing of invoices.

Implement Workflow Automation

Streamline your AP processes by implementing workflow automation. Define approval hierarchies and automate the routing of invoices for approval. This ensures that invoices are processed promptly and that there is visibility into the approval status at all times. Automated workflows can significantly reduce manual intervention and save time.

Embrace Electronic Payments

Switching to electronic payments can yield substantial savings. Electronic payments are not only faster but also reduce the cost associated with printing and mailing paper checks. Additionally, they can help you take advantage of early payment discounts offered by suppliers. Many AP automation solutions have integrations to existing electronic payment providers that further streamline your processes.

Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Regularly track and analyse KPIs related to your AP processes. Some relevant KPIs include the average time to process an invoice, the percentage of early payment discounts captured, the accuracy of data entry, and the number of invoices with exceptions. Monitoring these metrics will allow you to identify areas for improvement and measure the ROI of your automation efforts.

Train and Engage Your Team

Invest in training and communication to ensure that your team is comfortable with the new AP automation system. Explain the benefits and emphasise how automation can make their jobs more efficient. Encourage feedback from employees to identify any issues or concerns and address them promptly. Look for employees that are advocates of the new solution and encourage them to hold internal training and refresher sessions to help ‘sell’ the new processes to the wider business.

Continuously Optimise Your Processes

AP automation is not a one-time project; it's an ongoing process. Continuously look for ways to optimise your processes further. Stay updated with new features and updates from your automation software provider, and be open to making adjustments as needed. Most providers will share a roadmap with their customers and have open channels for feedback and features that the users would like to see. Make sure you share these with your automation provider.

Automating your accounts payable processes can be a game-changer for your organisation. By following these steps and strategies, you can maximise the ROI of your AP automation project. Reduced manual errors, improved efficiency, and better supplier relationships are just some of the benefits you can expect. With a well-planned approach and a commitment to continuous improvement, your organisation will reap the rewards of AP automation for years to come.



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Guest Author

Documation’s family of consultants, developers, account managers and support team are experts in the field of finance process automation.

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