eProcurement & Procure-to-Pay Resources

Challenges and Benefits of Automating Accounts Payable

Published May 6, 2020 at 10:30 AM

If businesses are learning anything from the current crisis, it’s that the goal of automation and paperless processes is more than just noble, it’s critical.  At many companies the accounting team has suddenly become “essential” and still must make their way to the office periodically to manually process incoming payments and payables. This likely means opening mailed invoices, stamping them as received and processing payment checks. As businesses return to work, a top question should be, “why wasn’t this automated, and how do we eliminate the paper?”

Data Driven Approach Needed

Accounts payable departments at companies of all sizes struggle with a lack of standardized processes, multiple systems, and a need for significant user intervention and manual work, leading to errors or undocumented processes.  As a result, taking a strategic, data driven approach to managing accounts payable is nearly impossible. 

PYMNTS.com recently published an article highlighting that “ an estimated nine billion paper invoices are processed every year in U.S. accounts payable departments, leaving plenty of room for leaked spend, errors, fraud and a lack of cash flow visibility for both buyers and suppliers."

Touchless Transactions

For companies ready to begin their transition from paper to paperless, technologies are available today to simplify and streamline the process.  Whether it is virtual cards, integration between Procure-to-Pay, accounts payable, and ERP,  digital invoices, or no touch payments,  technology can make “touchless transactions” a reality.  The benefits can be significant.

With touchless transactions, the AP professional’s work becomes less tactical and more strategic.  They are able to focus on exceptions and  begin to report, analyze and adjust.  As with any automation, errors are reduced dramatically, leading to financial and resource savings by eliminating the steps associated with correcting manual errors.  

Data Allows for Trend Analysis

The abundance of accounts payable data created through automated transactions can now  be mined for trends or behaviors that can inform the overall organization.  Procurement can make adjustments to products or services to be sourced can be made more rapidly and thoughtfully.

It is well known that automated processes are easier to adjust in the case of changes to compliance requirements.  

The current pandemic has highlighted the deficiencies of manual processes, particularly in the areas of accounts payable.  Executives need to make automation a top priority as they begin to reopen their businesses.  

How BuyerQuest Enables AP Automation

BuyerQuest customers have seen the value of automating accounts payable as part of a broader procure-to-pay strategy and have achieved impressive results transforming their cumbersome, manual accounts payable processes and building intelligent, automated workflows that save time, resources, and money. 

BuyerQuest offers a comprehensive platform of capabilities that enable accounts payable automation.  With electronic document exchange features and effortless 3-way matching for example, businesses can automate their processes and see quantifiable cost reductions.  With pre-negotiated products and services that have defined prices, purchase orders flow to suppliers without the need for human intervention.   

Suppliers are fully integrated to keep everything updated in BuyerQuest, preventing any downstream issues. Suppliers can also select their preferred invoice creation method and no matter which they choose, the BuyerQuest Platform fully supports them and ensures the invoice is created accurately and efficiently.

A Customer Example

One BuyerQuest customer was struggling with the manual processing of the significant number of invoices they received daily.  The inefficiency forced most of the accounting team to focus on ensuring all the paper invoices were properly received, tracked, and scheduled for payment.  There were often errors that took additional time and resources to research and correct. 

By using BuyerQuest, this company was able to dramatically streamline their accounts payable processes. With automated approvals, PO generation, and supplier notification, their suppliers were able to invoice based on the coded purchase, helping to automate the payables process and essentially take the people out of the trivial work.

Eliminating these mundane, non-value add steps in the procurement process allows for more time spent on strategic or customer-focused work.  For some customers, the invoice processing cost reduction can be dramatic, 65% in one case.  

Corporate offices are opening back up and people are heading back to the office.  As the executives start to review the company’s performance and where improvements can be made, AP automation should be a top priority.

Learn more about BuyerQuest’s approach to accounts payable automation in our Procure-to-Pay Solution.

New call-to-action

Interested in more fresh content about eProcurement? Sign up to receive blog notifications below.