Streamline Your Accounts Payable Process with Automation: Benefits and Best Practices

This article explains how to get the best return on your investment when choosing new accounts payable software.

Streamline Your Accounts Payable Process with Automation: Benefits and Best Practices

As your company's chief financial officer, you may be wondering what specific steps you should take to improve your accounts payable and even generate revenue. This article explains how to get the best return on your investment when choosing new accounts payable software.

You already know the importance of getting your suppliers paid on time, without mistakes or worries. Additionally, you may be looking for a solution that streamlines the billing and payment process while significantly reducing costs and offering new opportunities to grow and expand your business.

An efficient AP automation solution can help. The accounts payable department is responsible for ensuring that accounts payable and supplier invoices are processed, approved and paid on time to keep business running.

There are many ways to get started with Accounts Payable Automation.

We've identified the top five best practices for successful accounts payable management. You can read it below. You can also jump to the benefits these practices bring to your business.

Strategies for Success Automating Accounts Payable | Jordensky
Top five best practices for successful accounts payable management

1. Automating & Digitizing Payments

It may seem obvious that payment automation is critical to business success. Paper-based processes have made many companies vulnerable over the years, and even more so given recent events. With payment automation, real-time tracking and his 24/7 access to payment information allows the accounts payable department to make payments remotely and more efficiently.

Fundamentally, payment automation increases productivity within a department by saving time and resources. It also allows you to print most, if not all,  accounts payable checks while allowing you to print business continuity checks remotely if needed.

2. Fully Automate Invoice Processing

If you're new to AP Automation, you might think you're already automating invoices. Many finance professionals believe it's already automated, as most receive electronic invoices or  their ERP can easily scan email invoices. In most cases this is not the case.

Invoice automation enables accounts payable departments  to automatically transition paper, electronic, and email invoices to a digital workflow with 3- or 4-stepdetection and automatic fraud detection. Invoice automation with remote approval process, multi-step approval workflow (approval threshold for invoice amount), email notification to approver when invoice is received, flagging missing or updated information, scanning of custom characters and fields, notification of extreme discrepancies in amounts, reconciliation of orders and contracts, duplicate invoice warnings and more.

A fully automated invoicing solution virtually eliminates the risk of fraud and gives your accounts payable department complete control over the invoice approval process.

3. Enable No Touch & Remote AP

Due to the recent pandemic, organizations are facing various operational deficiencies in their current processes that they may not otherwise have been aware of. It may just be the obvious need for business continuity planning and remote process enablement in all areas of business operations.

Finance and AP departments have traditionally stuck to manual processes much longer than other business units. The main reasons for the slow adoption of new and  streamlined processes have always been the convenience of reliable payment methods and the difficulty of obtaining and managing supplier payment information. Tracking bank and credit card information certainly seems more difficult than writing a paper check that only requires your name and  address.

4. Decentralize & Layer AP Functionality

Many prominent organizations, including Harvard University, predict that the impact of COVID-19 will continue to negatively impact business operations well into 2022. There may be a brief hiatus over the summer due to office closures and social distancing enforcement. Still, it's unrealistic and optimistic to assume that things will continue as usual here.

This means AP and finance professionals need to implement solutions that enable full functionality from their office or home. Decentralization is important for all aspects of doing business  in our new normal. If you receive paper bills and can't make it to the office to  print paper checks, you need a complete backup plan.

Finance leaders are already planning to stagger office shifts, with some employees working from home indefinitely as desks are further spaced and meeting rooms are closed. You are asked to And with prices for office space  expected to triple in the coming months, businesses are looking for ways to cut costs. Remote work arrangements are a must, and billing and payment automation is more important than ever.

5. Embrace the HighTech, Low Touch Economy

Paper checks were originally set to disappear from B2Bpayments by 2030. Don't be surprised if checks expire sooner in a post-corona society. Digital check solution providers have already created a way to issue checks via email in seconds without paper or  wasted stamps. Other companies have abandoned checks altogether in favor of newer and more secure payment methods such as virtual cards (vCards) and real-time payments (RTP). No matter how long it takes companies to eliminate paper checks from the payment process, one thing is certain. It means the end is near. The Doomsday Clock is set for five minutes to midnight for paper checks at AP. A high-tech, low-touch economy is here to stay.

Benefits of Automating Accounts Payable

1) Save Time

In business, time is money. Using an AP automation solution saves you  the time it takes to manually process invoices and payments.

On average, manual labor makes up 25% of the workweek. Eliminating these tasks gives AP teams 25% more time  to focus on higher-value projects. With atypical 40 hour week, you can save and put to good use an extra 10 hours per week.

2) Immediate Cost Reduction

Automated solutions can effectively reduce costs, eliminate  time spent on manual invoice processing, and reduce orders for check printing supplies, MICR toner, check inventory, envelopes and postage.

Our AP Automation solution can:

  • Reduce costs by up to 80%
  • Don't spend money on new software releases
  • Generate revenue with virtual cards

3) Revenue Generation

You can also create new revenue streams by moving to electronic payments and invoicing. Each virtual card sent creates a monthly rebate for your business, turning your accounts payable into a revenue stream (typically around 1% of total spending - paid monthly).

A virtual card rebate is an immediate return on your investment for all transactions with providers paid with a  virtual card.

The more virtual credit card transactions you make, the more money you can get back.

4) Increased Control and Confidence

Automating your billing and payment process gives you more control over the process and confidence that your system is working. Enjoy all the benefits of accounts payable automation and electronic processes without sacrificing  cash flow visibility and control. Without outsourcing, it is possible to keep your current bank and his ERP and go paperless with accounts payable.

Best place? You can choose to switch to automation gradually or all at once. For more information, check out our podcast on how to minimize resistance to AP automation.

5) Better Organization

You no longer have to manually search and search through paperwork  to find what you're looking for as you'll find all the details of your bills and payments  instantly.

Real-time business intelligence analytics make it as easy to access  and follow up on reports from your kitchen table as you would from your office. Automation also creates internal controls designed to reduce the risk of fraud and human error, and lets you  create custom workflows.

6) Safe and Secure

Accounts payable automation solutions store your data in the cloud, giving you the peace of mind of knowing your files are safe and bank-grade secure.

According to the Association of Financial Professionals(AFP), 74% of organizations fell victim to payment fraud in 2020. They also recommend that financial professionals stay vigilant and take steps they can take to protect their business, including:

  • Regular verification of fraud prevention
  • Develop strategies and implement new controls
  • Investing in a more secure platform
  • Keeping your business up-to-date with the latest technology and using all the tools at your disposal is key to keeping your business safe from fraud.
  • Save time and money by eliminating manual AP processing tasks and moving to the ease of use of a revenue-generating machine.  

How to choose the right AP automation software

There are ways to improve your process that include changes in your policies and workflows, but the best way is to invest in AP automation software. The right accounts payable software can create a seamless workflow automation that allows you to spend time on more important tasks.

So what is the right accounts payable software choice for you? Consider the following:

  • Pain points: Of the five strategies we listed above, which is the most important to you? If invoice processing is eating the most of your time, then an accounts payable software solution that provides useful invoice automation will work best for you.
  • Price: How much are you willing to pay for an AP automation solution? There are accounts payable software subscriptions that are paid monthly, yearly, and/or per user, and there are also free software options that allow for accounts payable automation.
  • Implementation: How easy will it be to implement new AP automation software? If your team is small and the accounts payable software will only be used by one or two individuals, a more complicated system might be worth the learning curve.
  • Access: Some accounts payable automations require all-digital invoicing, so scanning might be necessary. You may need AP automation that will play nicely with your other financial SaaS tools.
  • Extras: Can you find an accounts payable automation solution that will provide additional benefits for your business? For example, you might find an AP automation software package that also includes corporate cards or reimbursements. (Divvy offers both, and more.)

It may seem like a large undertaking, but when you look at the cost-effectiveness of accounts payable automation, it’s hard not to make the switch. Take the time back from your accounts payable and see how your business thrives.

FAQ on Accounts Payable Automation

Q: What is accounts payable automation?

Accounts payable automation is the use of technology to streamline and automate the process of paying a company's bills and invoices. This can include using software to manage vendor invoices and payments, as well as automating the approval and payment process.

Q: What are the benefits of automating accounts payable?

Automating accounts payable can offer a number of benefits, including increased efficiency and accuracy, reduced errors and manual workload, and improved cash flow management. It can also help improve relationships with vendors by ensuring timely and accurate payments.

Q: How does accounts payable automation work?

Accounts payable automation typically involves the use of specialized software to manage the process of paying invoices and bills. This software can handle tasks such as tracking and storing vendor invoices, automating the approval process, and generating payment instructions.

The software can also integrate with a company's financial systems to facilitate the transfer of funds to vendors.

Q: What are the potential drawbacks of automating accounts payable?

One potential drawback of automating accounts payable is the initial cost of implementing the technology. There may also be a learning curve involved in using the software, and some employees may need to be trained on how to use it effectively. In addition, there is always the risk of technology failure or disruption, which could potentially disrupt the payment process.

Q: Are there any best practices for implementing accounts payable automation?

Some best practices for implementing accounts payable automation include:

  • Clearly defining the goals and objectives of the automation process
  • Involving relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process
  • Conducting thorough research to choose the right software and vendors
  • Ensuring that the software integrates seamlessly with existing financial systems
  • Providing adequate training and support to employees who will be using the software
  • Monitoring and regularly reviewing the automation process to identify and address any issues or challenges.

About Jordensky

At Jordensky, we are committed to providing an experience of the highest caliber while specializing in accounting, taxes, MIS, and CFO services for startups and expanding businesses.

When you work with Jordensky, you get a team of finance experts who take the finance work off your plate– ”so you can focus on your business.

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