eProcurement & Procure-to-Pay Resources

Challenges and Benefits of Automating Accounts Payable

Posted by BuyerQuest on May 6, 2020 at 11:30 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?”

AP 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. AP departments, leaving plenty of room for leaked spend, errors, fraud and a lack of cash flow visibility for both buyers and suppliers."

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 , AP, 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.  

The abundance of 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.  

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