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Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurement values that help your organization understand how effectively it conducts business on a day-to-day basis. Across your organization, KPIs can be used to target areas of inefficiency and propose solutions to address them. In certain departments, like Accounts Payable, measuring KPIs and utilizing them to inform your corporate decision-making can have a tremendous effect on your bottom line. Unfortunately, Accounts Payable KPIs are notoriously difficult to track.
Although tracking Accounts Payable KPIs is a challenge, you shouldn’t give up! They play a critical role in helping your organization achieve its most crucial business objectives —all you need is the right tools and expertise to get the job done.
Accounts Payable KPIs are a direct reflection of your invoice processing procedures. They help tell the story of who, what, when, where, why, and how in your AP department. For example:
Below, we’ll cover the five Accounts Payable KPIs your business should be measuring, but first, it’s important to understand how you can track these KPIs. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” But doing so can be easier said than done.
Of course, you can review balance sheets and dig through your system of record to try and piece together KPIs — but there’s an easier way. With automation, tracking Accounts Payable KPIs is as simple as logging into your workstation and reviewing an AP KPI dashboard.
When you think about Accounts Payable Automation, you probably imagine invoices being captured, automatically entered into your ERP, coded, and reconciled by intelligent software. From a functional perspective, these are some of the core capabilities of any solution worth its salt, but underneath your busy workflows lays another important feature — recording data related to all of these processes and relaying them to your administrators in an intuitive and organized fashion.
Just think, if you wanted to track how long invoices took to process on average in your organization, it would require each and every employee to time every stage of the invoice processing cycle. This information would then need to be coded or otherwise attributed to a specific invoice across multiple stages of processing and, finally, combined to give you the full summation of your invoice processing time. This process would be required for every invoice that enters your organization. Depending on your process, it could require multiple employees to collaborate to provide the necessary data to understand how long the average invoice takes to approve. Needless to say, this would have a detrimental effect on the exact KPI you’re trying to measure, adding extraneous work to an already highly manual and cumbersome process.
With Accounts Payable Automation, this data is collected automatically. Any information you want to collect to review your process is made available without any additional work needed. Therefore, your process would not only get faster but increase visibility and provide valuable insights to help your organization become more efficient while saving money. When recalling this information, it would already be compiled into graphs and charts that accurately reflect the KPIs you want to review and analyze. It’s a win-win for your AP department and C-level executives.
The value of this capability can’t be overstated. However, once you harness this power, you need to be mindful of how you use it. The following five Accounts Payable KPI examples highlight why this information is critical to all organizations.
Let’s break down some examples of important Accounts Payable KPIs your business can track with AP Automation.
When measuring KPIs, you want to improve your understanding of how your business is operating and how much it is costing you. Determining your overall cost per invoice processed will help you do just that. This KPI is defined as the total cost of processing an invoice, including:
When you compare your organization’s cost per invoice against industry benchmarks, you can get a clear view of where you stand currently and how much further you have to go to remain competitive with industry leaders.
According to the Aberdeen Group, the average cost to process an invoice manually is $16.67 whereas the average cost to process an invoice with AP Automation is a mere $3.63. By monitoring this KPI, you can ensure that your cost per invoice is trending towards the lower end of this value. With the right solution, you may even be able to surpass this average. For example, the average IntelliChief customer reduces their cost per invoice by 75 percent.
On average, companies with a manual AP process take 16.3 days to process an invoice. This helps to explain why these companies tend to miss out on early payment discount opportunities and pay more late payment fees.
On the other hand, companies with AP Automation take an average of 2.9 days to process an invoice. That’s an 82.2 percent decrease in the amount of time it takes to complete the same job, which also affords these companies 82.2 percent more time to focus on high-level, strategic tasks that can’t be automated. Longer than average invoice processing times are oftentimes the result of process inefficiencies, such as needlessly complicated workflows, incorrect invoice coding, and delayed routing or approvals. Automation addresses these issues to accelerate the procure-to-pay (P2P) cycle.
Invoice exceptions cause issues even in the most high-functioning AP departments. They are known to create manual data entry bottlenecks and contribute to dysfunction whenever they appear in the invoice processing queue.
Common invoice exceptions include discrepancies (i.e., wrong supplier codes), incorrect or missing POs, non-PO invoices, and special charges (i.e., tax and freight) that must be added to the invoice later in the P2P cycle. Understanding your company’s average percent of invoice exceptions can help you reallocate resources to prepare accordingly.
Once an organization has implemented AP Automation, they can use automation-specific KPIs to gauge performance improvements and obtain a better understanding of how their process has evolved. When it comes to AP Automation, straight-through (or touchless) processing refers to invoices that are processed from start to finish without any human intervention. These “perfect” invoices can be received, reviewed, and approved faster than any other type of invoice.
It’s a true game-changer for organizations that seek to improve efficiency and accuracy while processing invoices at the lowest possible cost. The more invoices that your organization can automate “straight-through” the more significant the impact on your bottom line.
Received-not-vouchered (RNV) is a status that occurs when a PO is received and inventory or a non-inventory general ledger expense account is debited. At the same time, a matching open amount is created on another table. Once the vendor’s invoice has arrived, all tables should be reconciled. However, it must often be done manually. It’s a somewhat common issue, but it can be a headache for your AP department.
In fact, Toolbox hosted an interview with Susan Stooksberry of JDEtips to discuss methods for dealing with RNV invoices. With AP Automation, reducing the number of RNV invoices that must be processed manually is easy because automation performs many of the actions that help reconcile these tricky invoices. By reducing the percentage of RNV invoices that must be processed manually, your AP department saves time.
As we mentioned above, the best way to measure KPIs for invoice processing is to let an AP Automation solution handle the work for you. With automation, there’s no need to maintain spreadsheets, track time, or record data manually — data recording takes place around the clock and tracks every single action in real-time. With the right solution, your KPIs are never more than a few clicks away. You can access all KPI data from your Accounts Payable KPI dashboard, where your chosen KPIs can be viewed on charts, graphs, tables, or other visual representations to make KPI analysis simple and effective.
To build out your Accounts Payable KPI dashboard, contact your vendor to see if one of their systems administrators can assist you. Some solutions utilize simple interfaces to make programming your dashboard a breeze, whereas others will require a specialist. Depending on the KPIs you wish to track, and the level of customization required to track them, it might be best to let your vendor handle the bulk of this work. However, some solutions (IntelliChief included) feature “ready-made” dashboards to help you track important KPIs, such as the five we covered in this article.
The sooner you start measuring KPIs for invoice processing, the sooner you can refine your AP process and work smarter, not harder. Start contacting AP Automation vendors today to see how your organization can become faster, leaner, and more cost-effective by automating invoice processing and analyzing auto-generated AP data. By this time next year, you could potentially reduce your AP costs by 70 percent or more, allowing your business to provide for strategic initiatives that have been swept under the rug for far too long.
Accounts Payable Automation has earned its reputation as a game-changer for large and complex organizations that handle tens, even hundreds, of thousands of invoices annually (or more). However, fewer than half of all businesses have implemented some form of Accounts Payable Invoice Automation solution to streamline financial operations.
From Gartner to the Aberdeen Group to the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) and the hundreds of ERP-specific user groups located around the globe, the benefits of Accounts Payable Invoice Automation have been thoroughly documented. For most businesses, implementing AP Invoice Automation is no longer a matter of if but when, so getting an early lead amongst your competitors is ideal for achieving industry-leading efficiency in your Accounts Payable department.
Now is the time to work smarter, not harder, and automation is the go-to solution. Here’s why it’s time for your organization to consider Accounts Payable Invoice Automation.
Business leaders demand real-time access to tools and data whether employees are in the office or working remotely. This capability is even more critical in Accounts Payable, a department that is oftentimes plagued with inefficiencies related to manual work and non-standardized processes. Accounts Payable Invoice Automation can provide in-office and remote workers instant access to invoice data and payment information, allowing you to streamline financial operations and mitigate document shuffle.
In many ways, real-time invoice data and payment information set the agenda for your financial operations by giving you unheralded visibility into the inner workings of your cash flow. Other benefits include:
These benefits only begin to scratch the surface of what your business is capable of when you automate invoice processing. The core concepts of automation are standardization, control, and efficiency. As you will see below, the invoice processing capabilities your business can unlock with automation can have a transformative effect on your business, freeing up the working capital you need to invest in the future and become more resilient in the present.
Large, complex businesses with dispersed workforces require AP Invoice Automation to ensure best practices, continuity, and scalable operations. When your organization’s footprint is spread out across multiple cities, states, or countries, staying on top of Accounts Payable takes a concerted effort. Unfortunately, as companies grow, these mission-critical business units have a tendency to become increasingly isolated, resulting in information silos.
When information silos are constructed, making informed financial decisions is nearly impossible. AP Invoice Automation helps to tear down these walls and connect personnel by supporting a centralized, digital repository where invoices and other AP-related documents can be stored, retrieved, and managed by permitted users within the organization.
Furthermore, once these documents have been consolidated, they can be reviewed and analyzed to empower financial decision-making. Leveraging analytics and business intelligence from automation, organizations understand the intricacies of their cash flow in greater detail than ever before. Some examples of the insights gleaned from this technology include:
Without automation, finding the answers to these questions can take days, weeks, or even months. You may need to organize an internal audit to get the clarity that AP Invoice Automation can provide instantaneously via built-in reporting and analytics tools.
Mergers, acquisitions, global expansion, and departmental reorganizations are par for the course for successful businesses. Responding to these changes is essential, but it’s easier said than done — especially when it comes to Accounts Payable. When your team of processors is suddenly facing twice as many invoices as usual, you’ll need to devise a plan for scaling operations to meet the growing demand.
Invoice Automation is scalable and agile. When invoice volume spikes, automation will process the majority of new invoices, diminishing the potential burden on your team. They will still be responsible for certain invoice exceptions, but they won’t be faced with twice the workload.
Connecting systems of record is another challenge for growing businesses. Invoice Automation can integrate with multiple ERPs to improve connectivity between disparate business units. This saves businesses a lot of time and stress since there’s less of a need for strategic reorganization and other problems of scale.
Choosing a partner for AP Invoice Automation is an important decision — one that will affect your business for years to come. It’s important to fully understand what your chosen solution offers in its Accounts Payable software. Here are a few noteworthy considerations:
As your organization compares Accounts Payable Invoice Automation vendors, keep these questions in mind to ensure that you are focusing on the capabilities and features that will have the most significant impact on your business.
According to IOFM, 14 percent of businesses process supplier invoices in a completely manual environment. These businesses require weeks to process invoices that their competitors are processing in mere days. If your organization is still processing paper invoices manually, your cost to process an invoice can be anywhere from 4x-10x greater than your competitors.
Still, this only accounts for 14 percent of businesses. Your organization likely has some degree of automation – or at least digitization – to speed invoices along your queue. Let’s see how the rest of the field stacks up:
Look at these numbers and consider where your organization stands. Have you done enough to automate invoice processing? Do your still view your AP department as an inefficient cost center? By acknowledging your existing strengths and weaknesses, you can take the necessary steps to improve further.
Does your organization know how much it costs to process a single invoice? At first glance, this figure might seem too granular and specific to be of any value. After all, your organization probably understands the difference between its revenue and expenditures. But upon closer inspection, determining your cost to process a single invoice can provide your organization with a concrete figure to compare its invoice processing capabilities against. If you can decrease this figure, you can increase your bottom line — which means better cash flow management and increased liquidity to grow your business.
Ready to determine your cost to process a single invoice? Follow these steps:
In Top 5 Reasons to Automate Invoice Processing, we discuss the significant cost differential for companies that process invoices manually and those that automate invoice processing. Companies with no automation spent, on average, $15.96 per invoice whereas companies with automation only spent $2.94 per invoice.
When setting your cost per invoice benchmark, you want to set a realistic goal that falls between these two averages. If your organization hasn’t automated Accounts Payable, $2.94 can be an unrealistic benchmark. However, you don’t want your cost per invoice to exceed $15.96 as this indicates that your process is inherently flawed and may require you to rework your process from the ground up.
For our example, let’s set your cost per invoice benchmark squarely in the middle of these two values: $9.45. Of course, you can adjust your benchmark as needed to better suit your business. The goal here is to set a concrete goal that we can compare against your current cost per invoice.
Now that you’ve established your benchmark, it’s time to estimate what your average cost per invoice really is. Is it greater than, less than, or equal to $9.45? In the next section, we’ll give you all of the information you need to calculate your actual cost per invoice, but before we get to that step, take a minute to consider where you think you currently fall.
If your estimate is higher than the benchmark we set in the last section, that’s okay! If it’s lower, that’s also okay! Although you are free to adjust your benchmark, keep in mind that we set it at $9.45 because this falls in the middle of the range we’ve observed while servicing our customers. Estimating your average cost per invoice gives you an opportunity to think about where your AP department currently stands. It also makes the discovery of your actual cost per invoice that much more enlightening.
Are you ready to see where your organization stands in relation to your benchmark and estimate? Take some time to record your answers to the checklist below. You may need to reach out to other leaders in your organization for information related to these questions. Keep in mind the individuals you speak with as they may play an important role in forming your committee for the enterprise software selection process. Enterprise software, such as Accounts Payable Automation, will help you bring down your actual cost per invoice and get it more aligned with the top benchmark of $2.94 per invoice.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Once you have your totals, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our experts will calculate your average cost per invoice using our AP Automation ROI Calculator. If you would like more information about the ROI Calculator before submitting your information, please send a request to email@example.com. In the meantime, bookmark this page so you can complete Steps 4 and 5.
Once you know your cost to process a single invoice, it’s time to compare it against your estimate and your benchmark. Based on your findings, following Step 5 could be either critical or unnecessary.
If you need to lower your cost to process a single invoice, considering a solution that can help your organization do just that is the next natural step. On the other hand, if your cost is already lower than the top benchmark and your estimate, your organization might want to seek a different avenue for cost savings.
Here’s what your findings suggest about your current processes:
With your cost to process a single invoice verified, it’s now time to consider your next steps and start asking questions, including:
For many businesses, AP Automation is the ideal solution for reducing invoice processing costs. With a robust, scalable solution, organizations can reduce invoice processing times by 70 percent or more while improving accuracy, eliminating duplicate payments, and seizing more early payment discounts. Together, these functionalities yield significant time and cost savings that are impossible to replicate without an enterprise software solution like IntelliChief.
Reducing your invoice processing costs is one of the best ways to enhance your bottom line. The majority of companies have not invested in AP Automation because they haven’t identified the need. Working under the assumption that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” these companies continue to squander profits on processes that are ineffective and costly. Now that you understand how much each invoice is costing your business, it’s time to do something about it!
To learn more about our solutions for automating invoice processing, contact IntelliChief today. Our industry-leading AP Automation solution integrates with your core technologies to support a seamless automated experience from start to finish.
Businesses around the globe process billions of invoices annually. As the process of purchasing materials and goods is refined and streamlined, this volume is only increasing. In fact, recent studies suggest that the volume of invoices received is likely to quadruple over the next decade. For this reason, many businesses are eager to automate invoice processing to better manage their cash flow.
The benefits of automated invoice processing are well documented, but many companies are still hesitant to take the leap. Many of these companies have heard the familiar pitches, including:
But how can you be 100 percent certain that automating invoice processing is, in fact, the ideal solution for your business? In this article, we break down the top five reasons why companies are utilizing invoice automation to gain a competitive (and operational) advantage.
Do you still process invoices manually? If so, your process probably looks something like this:
Of course, this process doesn’t necessarily end here. If there are any discrepancies or issues with the invoice, the purchaser and the supplier must work together to resolve them for approval.
Now, let’s compare the number of steps involved when this process has been automated. It looks like this:
With invoice automation, the number of steps required to approve an invoice is cut in half. Better yet, each of these steps is occurring in real-time, which means your business doesn’t need to wait for an approver to interact with an invoice. Invoices are automatically captured and processed as they arrive without any human intervention, resulting in an 80 percent reduction in the amount of time it takes to process an invoice. In our research, we have found that it takes companies an average of 16.6 days to process an invoice manually as opposed to only 3.6 days with invoice automation.
Needless to say, time saved is money earned — bringing us to the second reason why businesses choose to automate invoice processing…
When you can reduce the amount of time it takes to process invoices, you can get a more accurate look at your cash flow and make better decisions, but that’s only the beginning of the cost-saving benefits of invoice automation. You also save by:
Over time, these savings add up. When your cost per invoice is up to 80 percent less, you can reinvest those dollars saved to help your business grow and evolve. We’ve done our own research by leveraging our database of hundreds of customers. We’ve found that on average, businesses that automate invoice processing pay an average of $2.94 per invoice. This cost spikes to $15.96 per invoice at companies with no automation.
With automated invoice processing, your business will have a more accurate picture of where it stands from a cash flow management perspective. Not only will you have a better idea of your total available cash flow but also how it is affected throughout the year. In other words, invoice automation makes it easier to plan your next move — growing your business has never been easier.
Here are some examples of what your business can accomplish with greater control over its cash flow:
It’s no secret that implementing automation makes it easier for businesses to scale as their needs evolve, but it also helps kickstart growth by providing some greatly needed stimulus. Plus, with better cash flow management, you can focus on further refining processes to become more efficient.
According to Billentis, 20-30 percent of invoices “have to be treated as exceptions in one form or another.” This is where the top-tier invoice automation solutions separate themselves from the pack. An important question to ask when considering invoice automation is this:
Most automated invoice processing systems can automate simple, PO-based invoices. When discrepancies occur, these systems break down and require manual approval. Unfortunately, this is also the scenario most likely to result in human error. What if your solution could automate the bulk of your discrepancies? IntelliChief can.
IntelliChief utilizes a variety of features based on approval logic to get the job done when other solutions can’t. Mismatched item numbers? No problem. Unconverted currencies? No problem. Missing vendor ID #s? No problem. The list goes on.
This helps you improve invoice approval accuracy while also benefiting from additional process controls, reporting, accountability checks, and more. What happens when the discrepancy can’t be automated? Invoices can be recalled on demand and instantly connected to other related documents, allowing you to analyze what went wrong and why. If the solution is repeatable, IntelliChief will take the proper action next time having learned it from your manual approver.
Your invoices are an important form of documentation when it comes to financial and tax compliance. Your auditor needs to know what you purchased, and for how much, to ensure that your business doesn’t have anything to hide. Unfortunately, paper-based invoices are easy to lose or damage, which can cause friction with your compliance requirements.
With invoice processing automation, you can essentially automate compliance by providing auditors with all of the information they need through a digital portal. With your system constantly updating itself in real-time, you don’t need to explain why a certain document is missing or features outdated information — everything is accounted for at all times.
The World Bank notes that invoice automation can help you fortify your tax compliance and legal security needs while reducing related costs by nearly 40 percent. Are you currently preparing for an upcoming audit? Rather than investing sweat equity and work hours into preparation each time an audit is required, you can automate the entire process from start to finish with virtually no maintenance — all thanks to automated invoice processing.
Now that you understand how invoice automation can help you reduce invoice processing costs, decrease invoice cycle times, obtain more vendor discounts, eliminate paper/storage costs, and achieve superior visibility into your process, it’s time to speak with an expert about your specific goals and requirements. Before you start to shop around, it’s important to form an enterprise software selection committee and understand the integration requirements of your core technologies.
Once you have this information, contact IntelliChief to speak with an expert about your project. We’re happy to point you in the right direction to ensure that your automated invoice processing project helps your business gain a competitive advantage.
In an increasingly technology-dependent world, change is always on the horizon. Your organization has spent years, possibly even decades, working diligently to achieve success. Your people, processes, and customers are a direct result of your organization’s ability to adapt and thrive, but when the playing field is no longer level, it’s time to innovate before you dissipate.
For enterprise-level businesses, keeping pace with innovation is a constant challenge. By ignoring innovation, you only prolong the inevitable. By making rash, uninformed decisions, you shift your company in a dangerous trajectory. The most obvious example is enterprise software, including:
While these technologies have the potential to give your company a distinct competitive advantage in terms of security, accuracy, speed, and cost, finding the right solution takes input and collaboration from a variety of key decision-makers. Who should you include in the enterprise software selection process? It depends on your business, core technology, and objectives. This article provides several insightful tips to help you form a team that will lead you towards the best enterprise software solution to address your specific needs.
It takes time to find the ideal enterprise software vendor for your business. The vetting process can be long and costly, which means establishing clear objectives early on is essential for reducing the cost of your enterprise software project. The vetting process typically involves between three and ten vendors, which means the more vendors you reach out to, the longer and more costly your selection process will be.
Internally, your organization needs to set rules for performing due diligence, vetting qualifications, rejecting poor matches, and, ultimately, defining its shortlist. You don’t want ten vendors on your shortlist. Two is ideal. Three is manageable. But anything beyond that can make the final selection process harder than it needs to be.
The enterprise software selection process can take anywhere from three to eighteen months. The faster you can pull together your team and start vetting vendors, the smaller the hit to your bottom line. According to the Supply Chain Coalition, it takes “up to 300 hours/person by a team of up to 20 key individuals” to select enterprise software for your business. But with the right team (and helpful vendors), you can cut down this number drastically. They estimate that the cost of selection, on average, equals $900,000. Here’s how they reached this number:
Company burdened rate ($150/hour) x 300 hours x 20 employees = $900,000
And that’s before you get any benefit from your new system. Over the last decade, we’ve implemented enterprise software, such as ECM, AP Automation, and Sales Order Automation, for hundreds of customers. We’ve discussed this statistic with them, and, frankly, the cost of selection has never been calculated anywhere near this figure.
Certainly, this figure could account for the worst-case scenario, but we believe that transparent collaboration is the key to accelerating your project and reducing the cost to implement. You want to recoup your investment as quickly as possible, which is why we’ve made it our goal to help businesses generate 100 percent ROI within the first 12-18 months of implementation.
If you want to learn more about how companies like yours have handled the selection process, our team is happy to walk you through some case studies from past customers that are already using IntelliChief. Now, it’s time to answer the titular question:
Who Should You Include in the Enterprise Software Selection Process?
The term “CEO” is used rather loosely these days. Investopedia defines a Chief Executive Officer as “the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (the board) and corporate operations and being the public face of the company.”
In most companies, high-dollar investments must typically be approved by the CEO. We recommend getting project approval from your company’s CEO before you start the selection process, then looping back around in the later stages of your search to update them accordingly and provide additional knowledge. You must provide a clear rationale for the project, the estimated cost to implement, and the projected time it will take to recoup the investment as well as future projections for cost savings and operational improvements.
It’s unlikely the CEO will be involved throughout every step of the selection process, but they need to be convinced if you want them to provide the proverbial thumbs up or down at important junctions along the way.
In addition to the CEO, you should also consider the following C-level executives when shopping for enterprise software.
As the head of your Finance department, the Chief Financial Officer oversees financial operations, budgeting, and financial reporting. When shopping enterprise software, the CFO is a powerful ally that can help you convey value to the CEO and accelerate the project timeline. Among the members of your team, they also have the most to gain. Enterprise software is highly effective for reducing costs across all areas of your organization — a benefit your CFO will recognize immediately.
The Chief Information Officer takes the lead in matters concerning information technology (IT) and implementation. This technical role is responsible for ensuring the smooth rollout of any new technologies in your organization. However, their job doesn’t exclusively involve overseeing hardware, software, and data for the C-suite. They are also tasked with researching potentially lucrative technologies, building use cases, and providing value propositions. In most implementations, the CIO plays a prominent role because they combine the technical know-how of IT with the high-level insights of the C-suite.
Recommended Solutions: Enterprise Content Management, Accounts Payable Automation, Sales Order Automation, HR Automation, and Document Retention.
Sometimes, the CEO is too busy or unavailable to greenlight a new project. As the second in command, the President (or even the Vice President) can be an effective partner in navigating the software selection process. Similar to the CEO, they have high-level knowledge of your organization’s needs and a strong understanding of what must be done to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Some companies have a single President, while others have several Vice Presidents overseeing various departments. Determining who you should turn to (or who should take it upon themselves to initiate an enterprise software project) depends on the hierarchical structure of your company. While these positions most commonly deal with logistics, business operations, and policy, they can also serve as the glue between various managers and decision-makers. They can help you determine which type of enterprise software will have the most significant benefit by examining operational weaknesses, inefficient business processes, and detrimental cost centers.
Recommended Solutions: Enterprise Content Management, Process Automation, and Platform Services.
The operations manager, also referred to as chief operating officer or COO, oversees various high-level HR-related duties, including:
Implementing enterprise software, whether in Human Resources or any other department in your organization, will affect your employees directly by altering the way they perform their jobs. While these changes are almost always positive, they are changes, and employees often resist changes to the status quo.
The operations manager can help make this transition a smooth experience for everyone by providing their expertise and representing the sentiment of current and future employees. They can also refine hiring processes to account for new technology.
Whether your organization is looking to automate HR-based processes or increase efficiency across multiple departments, the operations manager can provide an employee-first perspective to ensure that your enterprise software implementation makes work more enjoyable for all.
Recommended Solutions: HR Automation, Process Automation, and Document Retention.
The production manager plays a vital role in any organization that creates and distributes products. From scheduling to budgeting and meeting deadlines, the production manager has an inside track on the functions that allow your business to satisfy commitments to customers.
How does enterprise software factor into your production line? This is an important question that you will need to address at some point during the enterprise software selection process. The production manager can help you answer it.
For example, if you are shopping for Sales Order Automation, your production manager can help you understand the effect faster order processing and clearance will have on your production needs. When you get paid faster, you can complete orders more quickly, but what effect does that have on production? There’s a good chance that you will need to produce more products to satisfy faster order turnaround.
Recommended Solutions: Sales Order Automation, Document Management for Manufacturing, and Accounts Receivable Automation.
According to TalentLyft, warehouse managers (or shipping managers) are responsible for an array of important tasks, including “packing, verifying content for shipping, receiving packages, [and] ordering supplies.”
However, today’s shipping managers are also responsible for using software to optimize distribution processes, managing documents (i.e., advanced shipping notices, pick slips, bills of lading, and more), and directing packages from start to finish.
Depending on your enterprise software solution, any number of these processes can be streamlined or automated, which means including your warehouse/shipping manager in your search will help you identify a solution that meets your requirements from both operations and cost savings perspectives.
Recommended Solutions: Sales Order Automation, Document Management for Distribution, Document Management for Manufacturing, Enterprise Analytics, and Workflow Automation.
One of the fastest ways to recoup your initial investment when purchasing enterprise software is by starting in Accounts Payable. If your organization is still performing AP tasks “the old way,” it will benefit immensely from Accounts Payable Automation.
AP Automation helps businesses reduce invoice processing costs, eliminate late fees, and capture more early payment discounts. It’s the perfect starting point for any enterprise software implementation because it demonstrates lightning-fast ROI and significant operational improvements. Once you see the benefits of AP Automation, it’s only a matter of time before you expand your solution to other departments — if your solution is designed for the enterprise and can be utilized for multiple applications.
Your Accounts Payable Manager is an integral part of any software selection committee, providing the technical expertise of your specific AP processes that will allow your vendor to automate your processes in a way that matches the way you currently do business (while refining these processes and making them faster and more efficient).
When implemented by a proven vendor with a penchant for AP Automation success, your AP manager’s job becomes much easier. AP Automation streamlines invoice processing, voucher creation, records management, and reporting.
Recommended Solutions: Accounts Payable Automation and Enterprise Content Management.
Line supervisors oversee work performed on the line, manage schedules, and monitor quality control. Career Trend describes line supervisors as the “eyes and ears on the line during operations.”
Although line supervisors do not perform high-level management tasks, they can provide the most granular insights into your specific processes. When mapping processes for process automation, talking to your line supervisors can ensure that nothing falls between the cracks. This is important because even minor tasks can throw off your automation implementation when unaccounted for. Plus, they will have a more complete understanding of undocumented tasks and tribal knowledge associated with the particular line they are supervising.
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
Forming a selection committee with members of your organization is a surefire way to ensure that your selection process is productive; however, there’s no denying the fact that the solution you need may not be one that you’re familiar with. For this reason, many businesses seek assistance from consultants outside of their organization. Outside consultants are helpful for a number of reasons, including:
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
Once you have created a shortlist of vendors you are interested in discussing your project with, establish a point of contact at each solution provider. Are they trying to sell you their product? Yes. But in order to do so, they need to answer all of your questions and gain your confidence. In other words, you have all the leverage during the selection process.
Here’s an insider tip: the vendors on your shortlist are expecting you to be in talks with other providers. Use this to your advantage. Compare and contrast their offerings against the others on your shortlist. It’s a good idea to be transparent about the other vendors you’re considering as this can help you discover which ones are being substantive with their claims and which ones are only blowing smoke.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide for yourself which vendor has the right solution for your business, but it’s impossible to distinguish between the good and the bad without talking directly to an account executive from each contender. Here are some questions to consider as you talk to vendors:
By asking these questions (and others), you can start to whittle down your shortlist from the recommended three vendors to your chosen enterprise software solution.
Recommended Solutions: Determined on a case-by-case basis.
Now that you’ve assembled a diverse, knowledgeable team of experts from inside and (potentially) outside your business, it’s time to get to work. The longer you wait to implement a game-changing solution, the higher the opportunity cost of remaining the same. Businesses often fail to recognize the detrimental effect of existing inefficiencies that have been baked into your processes for years or decades — but this is the very reason why waiting to get started only hurts your bottom line. Fortunately, there are several ways to get started, including:
For more information on identifying the right enterprise software solution for your unique business needs, contact us today. Our experts are standing by to help your break down your goals and requirements. One quick chat with an expert can potentially save you hours of wasted time by ensuring that your search is pointed in the right direction from the start.
Getting more products out the door more quickly lets you maximize your assets. It’s a universal objective shared by everyone from Finance to Operations — and it’s your competitors’ objective, too. Everyone knows you need to spend money to make money, but determining exactly how much revenue each asset generates can be a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a formula to help you figure out exactly that. It’s known as the asset turnover ratio.
Have you ever seen this formula before?
Asset Turnover Ratio = Sales or Revenues / Total Assets.
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, “The asset turnover ratio, also known as the total asset turnover ratio, measures the efficiency with which a company uses its assets to produce sales.”
The higher the asset turnover ratio, the better your company is performing. Higher ratios mean that you’re generating more revenue per asset, which is a key indicator of where your organization stands against its competitors. If you want to understand how every dollar in total assets equates to sales, this formula will reveal the answer.
So how can you maximize your assets? The answer is simple: Sales Order Processing Automation.
Sales Order Processing Automation is one of the most effective tools for maximizing assets. By accelerating your fulfillment process and streamlining logistics, your company can increase revenues and reduce Days Sales Outstanding (DSO). DSO has a dramatic impact on this figure, which is why it should be one of your key KPIs, especially if you are utilizing Sales Order Processing Automation.
With automation, your organization can streamline and automate business processes to make them faster and less prone to error. In fact, some companies have been able to reduce order processing times by as much as 80 percent.
Reduction in Order Processing Time
Why is this important? Faster turnaround means buyers get their bills in a fifth of the time, starting the contractual payment clocks faster and accelerating revenue.
Now that you’ve decided that you want to improve your organization’s asset turnover ratio, it’s time to plan for your automation implementation. Before you start to worry, here’s some good news — it doesn’t take much to optimize your order processing workflow.
Our proven sales order processing system integrates directly with your ERP, making IntelliChief a safe and reliable component of your digital infrastructure. IntelliChief helps you bill your customers faster and track the status of every payment. It electronically captures all your documentation at its point of origin, then indexes the relevant content and organizes it in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. It even communicates with your ERP or line of business system, synchronizing your databases and updating your customer activity records in real-time.
So, what does this mean for your business? It means you have the opportunity to deploy cash assets into capital investments. You can enhance everything from sales and customer service to production and fulfillment.
Interested in learning more? Read our Sales Order Processing Automation white paper or contact us.
If you were to ask 100 companies if they would like to reduce their invoice processing costs, there is a high probability that 99 of them would say “yes.” And the one that says no? They’ve probably started their invoice automation journey already — with a full invoice management system implemented and operable. For businesses that are still managing invoices manually, an invoice management system can provide considerable cost savings while bolstering efficiency to help your Accounts Payable department improve cash flow management and visibility.
Let’s face it, manual invoice processing is expensive and time-consuming. It’s a grim reality that other companies have been grappling with for a long time. Here’s what they’re saying:
The Institute of Financial Operations surveyed companies about their current approach to invoice management. Here’s what they had to say:
of organizations still deal with paper invoices and transaction documents
said that their volume of invoices increased or remained roughly the same over the past year
reported that the bulk of their increase in invoices was paper-based
confirmed that half or more of their invoices arrived in paper format
of total invoice volume was paper-based for majority of businesses
of companies required between 5 and 25 full-time employees for invoice entry and validation
had a steady or increased number of errors during invoice entry and payment in the last 18 months
of organizations said that PO-based invoice automation is important to a comprehensive automation project
60 percent said that they were focusing on controlling their spend and ensuring that purchases were made with preferred suppliers
were focusing on eliminating mismatches and exceptions that lead to blocked invoice payment
noted the average time it takes to process an invoice increased over the past year
were able to capture “a significant amount” of early payment discounts with invoice processing automation
used front-end document capture software
used optical character recognition (OCR) software to replace manual ERP keying
had full data extraction and ERP validation capabilities
The statistics illustrate an alarming trend. For most companies, invoice processing is still a largely manual process, but they are also spending more time thinking about their AP processes and how they can improve them with an invoice management system.
Reducing your invoice processing costs is easier said than done, which is why we have developed comprehensive solutions, including invoice validation software, to help companies overcome these challenges. Most of our customers achieve a full ROI within one year of implementation with a 75 percent reduction in invoice processing costs. With a robust invoice management system and invoice automation capabilities, you can avoid late payment fees and expedite invoice processing to capture a higher percentage of available discounts.
IntelliChief customers also benefit by:
The best part? You can keep your specific processes in place. Strategic automation is all it takes to achieve these results. with our invoice management system.
Are your Accounts Payable queues overflowing with invoices? You’re not alone. Many businesses have trouble keeping up with high invoice volume, and this problem is only compounded when that volume starts to increase. This article discusses five tips for dealing with an increasing Accounts Payable invoice volume. Don’t let high invoice volume overwhelm your team!
Are you looking for a shortcut to improving Accounts Payable? Accounts Payable Automation is one of the most popular solutions for helping companies handle large increasing invoice volume. Form a strategy for moving your AP department towards full automation. If you can achieve a straight-through processing (STP) rate of 70 percent or more, you can drive down processing costs and future-proof AP against increasing invoice volume.
With the right solutions provider, your Accounts Payable department can be the benefactor of many emerging technologies. From workflow analytics to artificial intelligence and more, these technologies aim to make your business smarter and extend the use of your AP Automation solution. The data you generate on a daily basis has tremendous value. You need a clear picture of your AP data for working capital and spend management.
When you make timely payments, you actually help your organization save money. Are you missing out on early payment discounts? Are you processing duplicate payments accidentally? By optimizing your payment strategy, you can fortify relationships with vendors and suppliers while guarding your bottom line.
Your business is growing but scaling is a challenge. What should you do? We’ve helped hundreds of customers streamline and automate the payables process to keep costs low and help them scale their operations to meet the demands of business expansion.
According to the Institute of Finance & Management, 61% of top global companies have implemented Accounts Payable (AP) automation. But this movement hasn’t come without challenges. The main issue? Money. When a CFO looks at potential expenditures, they need to know how each one will impact their bottom line. And it’s not just the immediate impact on cash flow.
There are long-term risks (and rewards) to consider. Without the right profile, even the most promising project won’t get funding, which leads to a central question:
Is automating Accounts Payable processes worth the effort?
For organizations asking this question, there is good news — AP Automation has an incredibly high ROI that scales with size. In other words, the larger the organization, the more they stand to save. Enterprises can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with AP Automation.
One of the most notable and obvious benefits of AP Automation is that it allows your business to phase out tedious, time-consuming, and manual tasks. In a traditional back-office setting, Accounts Payable is a very manual process. How long does it take for one of your processors to perform a two- or three-way match? Just think, someone has to find the documents, check them line by line to make sure they’re accurate, and approve the invoices for final payment. This is often a disconnected process that AP professionals must repeat hundreds of times per month.
In an automated environment, these tasks can be completed without human intervention, resulting in fewer errors and faster invoice processing.
By taking the manual effort out of this business process, automation makes it much faster. Time is money, so just imagine how you can reallocate and defer resources when hours aren’t wasted on manual AP processing. When you spend these hours on other important tasks, the impact on your payable department can be significant.
Those savings also start accumulating from the moment your AP Automation solution is implemented. Every electronically processed vendor transaction saves you upwards of $10, and that’s without taking into account an increase in employee productivity. Because their time and talents will be better utilized, they’ll be less likely to leave for more challenging roles, and you won’t have to invest resources in hiring and training their replacements.
AP professionals follow business processes designed to help them overcome the challenges they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Software that can’t be configured to your specifications can’t provide the same ROI as a solution that can be completely tailored to the user’s needs.
For instance, our AP Automation software is designed to provide the highest possible return on investment. Our Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform, which features robust Document Management, AP Automation, and an array of other products and capabilities, can help your organization by:
Here’s a sobering statistic:
More than 75 percent of payment-based supplier discounts go unclaimed by purchasers because they can’t process their invoices quickly enough to take advantage.
With fully configurable workflows, you can protect, standardize, and streamline your organization’s particular business processes. Only now, they will be faster, and you will have more accurate, real-time visibility into the status of every project and transaction. You will also be less likely to overlook a potential discount — and late fees will be a thing of the past.
Many studies suggest that the ongoing cost savings of Accounts Payable Automation can top 70 percent when compared to manual AP processes. At IntelliChief, we’re proud to say that our customers typically achieve a full return on their investment within a single year.
In conclusion, and to answer our titular question, is automating Accounts Payable processes worth the effort? You tell us.
Accounts Payable is often viewed as a cost center, and it’s not because AP controls the money leaving your organization. You can’t overlook the cost of doing business (and the cost of doing business inefficiently), either. If your AP department is unable to process vendor payments in a timely manner or mismanages your cash flow due to a lack of communication, it may be time to consider whether a paperless Accounts payable system is right for your business.
With a paperless Accounts Payable system, your organization can improve the quality of all AP functions. If your Accounts Payable process is very manual and your invoice volume is high, going paperless is the best way to get control of your AP department. But how can you be certain that your company is a good candidate for a paperless Accounts Payable system? And how can you justify your investment?
This article explores the topic of compatibility by weighing the benefits of a paperless Accounts Payable system against the risks.
Accounts Payable is a department mired in tradition. Invoices are received by fax, mail, or email to be keyed into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and matched against the corresponding Purchase Order (PO). In a vacuum, this process is relatively straightforward, but more often than not, seemingly small issues arise that derail your AP processors. Duplicate payments, missed early payment discounts, varying units of measure, currency conversions…the list goes on and on.
In a paper-based AP department, your team is responsible for manually identifying and working out these issues to ensure that your bottom line is protected. Don’t be afraid to break from tradition to seize control of your Accounts Payable department. When it comes to your Accounts Payable system, it’s better to be the exception as opposed to the rule. While your competitors spend time manually processing invoices, your team can automate this process from start to finish to boost processing speed and accuracy while also lowering your average cost to file.
Before you select a paperless solution for Accounts Payable, it’s important to take a step back and form a plan for carrying out your due diligence. Allocate a reasonable amount of time to investigating potential solutions. Google is a great place to start as it serves search results according to intent. Be specific with your search queries and there’s a good chance you’ll discover a handful of options from the beginning — but don’t stop there. Research competitors, request demos, and ask for price comparison quotes. There are many types of paperless Accounts Payable systems, and finding the best match for your organization is going to take time. Before you choose a paperless solution, consider the following:
Let’s take a look at the real-world impact of moving to a paperless Accounts Payable system.
How do you define transparency in Accounts Payable? Essentially, a transparent Accounts Payable system gives you the tools to monitor the progress of every invoice that enters your organization, giving you direct insight into valuable information, including:
Increased efficiency is one of the most highly lauded benefits of a paperless Accounts Payable system. Your organization knows that if it can get faster, it can save money and keep vendors happy, but getting there can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge with a reliable AP solution. With a paperless Accounts Payable system in place, scanning and uploading an invoice for routing is a breeze. Many companies are able to reduce their invoice processing cycle by days or even weeks by simply taking paper out of the equation. Your AP department’s productivity can be further increased by implementing Accounts Payable Automation to eliminate the manual work altogether. Here are some of the ways companies boost invoice processing efficiency by going paperless:
Another significant benefit of a paperless Accounts Payable system is superior audit controls. In a recent Forbes Council Post, Katherine Jackson, Vice President of Bayer Properties, explains:
“Signature limits were automated, ensuring every invoice submitted met with company approval guidelines. The system-generated audit trail provided comprehensive information for audit testing. There was never again a problem with lost AP records because someone had misfiled an invoice. The electronic records in the Accounts Payable system pulled over via an API into the accounting software for processing, ensuring there were no keying errors on the data being added to the accounting records. Month-end reporting improved our accrual process to ensure monthly expenses were captured correctly.”
In summary, they were able to establish a system where every document was accounted for at all times, leading to easier compliance with important regulations like SOX and HIPPA.
As your company grows, it will need to continue to bring new employees into the fold to handle increased invoice volume. This can make sustainable growth a big challenge. Calculating how you will scale your company to keep up with business is a real concern for many successful businesses. However, the added efficiency of a paperless system means you can continue to scale your company with only nominal AP-related cost increases — this is doubly true when AP Automation is introduced.
Choosing to implement a paperless Accounts Payable system is one way to help your business gain a competitive advantage, but it doesn’t come without some risks. There is an inherent financial risk when making any business-related purchase, and a paperless system isn’t an outlier in this regard. To avoid the potential risks of selecting the wrong solution, talk to an expert that can help you determine whether a paperless Accounts Payable system is right for your business. Take this knowledge and apply it to other solutions. Ask all the questions you need to settle on a shortlist and be transparent with your selected vendors to ensure that your solution can address the problems you set out to solve in the first place.
The decision to partner with a software provider for Accounts Payable Automation can be a complicated one. Your organization is looking to solve problems in Accounts Payable, but conveying those issues to a vendor can be difficult. It can feel like your ideas are too abstract to explain in concrete terms or you lack the necessary knowledge to start your search on the right path. Not to mention, the wrong choice can turn your investment into more of a gamble than you might care to admit.
If your accounting department has plateaued in terms of productivity, partnering with a vendor that can offer best-in-class AP Automation can help you turn a common cost center into a source of savings — both in terms of productivity and your bottom line. The trouble is, with so many vendors offering so many different products, it can be difficult to trust that the one you’re being pitched is the best fit for your organization’s specific needs.
This article discusses 10 vital questions to reference when vetting Accounts Payable Automation solution providers, including:
These questions will help you gauge the possible benefits and drawbacks of any AP Automation partnership. By the time you’re done browsing these 10 important questions, you will have all of the information you need to perform your due diligence when shopping AP Automation solutions.
This is the big one. The productivity of your Accounts Payable department is entirely dependent on your team’s ability to swiftly process invoices as they arrive. When an invoice can be matched to its corresponding purchase order, the biggest slowdown is typically the manual data entry required to key that information into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Unfortunately, for larger companies with dozens or even hundreds of vendors, it’s far easier for Accounts Payable to become inundated with exceptions that require one of your end-users to manually verify information that extends beyond what is indicated on the PO. For example:
In a manual AP department, these questions are often left unanswered; after all, simply managing the volume of invoices entering your organization can be a tall order in itself. Or worse, each of your end-users has developed their own strategy for dealing with these exceptions, resulting in a lack of process standardization across the enterprise. Your chosen Accounts Payable Automation solution should have enough advanced features to automate AP beyond simply verifying that an invoice matches a PO. Detail these specific challenges to any vendor your organization is engaging with and verify that their solution can in fact handle these specific circumstances. Don’t be shy. Request a demo to see for yourself.
Accounts Payable Automation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Automation runs the gamut from point solutions for small businesses dealing with one specific AP problem to Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that employ a variety of technologies to digitally transform Accounts Payable into a fully automated, 100 percent paperless department. But the size and scope of your operations aren’t the only things to consider when vetting AP Automation solutions. You want to find a vendor that has already deployed AP Automation for other companies in your industry. These vendors will have a particularly fine-tuned sense of what you need to accomplish as well as the steps to get you there.
Familiarity with industry norms, standards, and regulations is becoming increasingly important as regulatory compliance continues to push businesses to improve information security. Whether your company deals with SOX, HIPPA, or some other regulatory body, a vendor that knows your industry will understand your pain points and actively work to meet your requirements.
Integration is the crux of successful Accounts Payable Automation implementations. AP Automation isn’t just a piece of software you upload to your computer. It must be integrated with your existing technology, such as your ERP system or any other system of record you utilize to run your business. It needs to be able to access and affect this information; otherwise, your solution will be hamstrung from the beginning.
In the last section, we mentioned that familiarity with your business and industry is important to ensure a successful AP Automation partnership; however, integration with your core technologies is equally as important (if not more so). You don’t want an inexperienced company mucking up your ERP or trying to replicate their success with one ERP by following the same procedures they always do with a system they aren’t accustomed to. Look for a vendor who is certified to work with your current ERP or can provide evidence of past project successes to show you exactly how your AP Automation project will be approached. Integration is key to getting the most bang for your buck. If you want “real” automation that doesn’t get stumped on simple exceptions, you need seamless integration that can provide real-time updates to your ERP tables.
Do you want to ensure that your Accounts Payable Automation project is successful? When speaking with vendors, detail your specific needs and requirements but don’t forget to follow up with them to see how they plan to address these concerns. Furthermore, remain steadfast in your pursuit of measurable results. You can’t track what you can’t measure, and any AP Automation solution worth its salt will be able to provide you with data to verify that you’re meeting important KPIs, such as:
You’ll only be selling your organization short by solely looking for a reduction in costs. Accounts Payable Automation can help you achieve so much more — as long as your vendor works with you to establish a plan from the beginning. Any vendor simply looking to sell you a product is not going to help you utilize AP Automation to the fullest extent possible.
Let’s face it, there are going to be some changes to your process flow when implementing AP Automation; however, these changes should only serve to benefit your team and help make their jobs easier. Understandably, businesses are reticent to alter workflows that have served them reliably for years, but keep in mind that reliability doesn’t equate to cheap or fast. Therefore, when asking this question; don’t be afraid to be told that, yes, you will have to change the way you process invoices. The important thing is to ask “how” your workflows will be changed. There’s a very good chance that you will like what you hear.
Now, here’s what you should look out for. If a company doesn’t offer a tool for designing, editing, revising, fixing, or eliminating workflows in accordance with your business needs, it’s probably not going to be a long-term, viable solution. You only want to eliminate steps in your process that hinder your bottom line, such as:
There’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken, but many vendors are limited by the solution they are selling. This is another reason why a strategic partner is far more valuable than a standalone product; a strategic partner will align their technology with your existing processes to help your project launch quickly and efficiently while limiting the learning curve for your team.
When it comes to AP Automation, no amount of surface sheen can overcome a solution with limited capabilities. During your due diligence, it’s important to focus on function over form. Clean interfaces, bright buttons, and attractive analytics dashboards are superficial if they don’t serve your overall automation goals — or exist solely to masquerade a lack of functionality. This isn’t a question you should pose directly to a vendor, but it’s one that should be considered internally (at all times) as you perform your due diligence. When digging for the truth about the functional capabilities of an AP Automation solution, “can” questions are important, for example:
With so many AP Automation solutions available on the market today, it has become imperative for businesses to focus on function. Allowing yourself to be led astray by a solution that looks great and claims to have all the bells and whistles you need could result in major disappointment if your requirements aren’t actually met by the time your solution is deployed.
There are countless vendors to choose from, all of which are vying for your valued partnership. When it comes to Accounts Payable Automation, one of the greatest differentiators is the strategy being proposed to help you meet your ROI goals. As you perform your due diligence, you may find that some vendors are eager to throw around jargon while providing scant evidence of a cohesive, strategic plan. If you find yourself in this position, it’s a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate whether that particular vendor is the right fit. In most cases, the vendor that speaks plainly and is straightforward when detailing their strategic plan is the vendor you want to select.
Remember, your company is seeking a solution that will help them cut costs, save time, reallocate resources, and improve business for everyone — not a solution that relies on confusing technobabble to circumvent your real concerns.
You might believe that signing an AP Automation partner means your portion of the work is done, but that’s far from reality. Your AP Automation vendor needs to be your strategic partner. They need to work directly with Accounting, IT, and the C-suite to ensure that every nook and cranny of your business processes are explored thoroughly, mapped accurately, and tested to perfection. This is only possible by working together throughout the implementation process. This doesn’t just give you an opportunity to oversee the implementation, it gives you time to connect with your vendor’s representatives, ask questions, and keep the ball rolling in the right direction.
There will be hiccups; every AP Automation project is confronted with unexpected challenges, but together, these challenges can be overcome. Don’t be shy. Press every vendor about your role in the implementation process. The more involved they allow you to be, the more assurance you have that your implementation is headed for success. To avoid potential concerns, ask vendors how they are going to manage communication and collaboration and what degree of your involvement they expect to have.
As we mentioned previously, any vendor that has worked with a company with a similar profile to yours will be more likely to meet your goals and requirements. It might feel like a bit of an overreach, but if they are willing to connect you with one of their existing customers, you should take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask. This might not be a common practice for every vendor, but it is certainly a common practice for vendors that strongly believe in their products and services.
Typically, other companies that have experienced AP Automation success will be eager to share their stories and assist their vendor. Why? Because these customers understand the value of a strategic partnership that extends beyond a simple software sale. Sometimes, it’s better to speak directly to a customer to see how a vendor succeeded — or how they failed.
You’ve purchased and implemented a solution, but after 90 days, you’re not saving time or money. In fact, your AP team is more confused than ever. They can’t find what they’re looking for. Database searches yield zero results. Invoices continue to pour in but you’ve changed your workflow to align with a system that only causes you more trouble. At this point, your only question is:
What went wrong?
To avoid a crisis like the one described above, it’s important to establish clearly defined milestones to show evidence of the progress being made. By the time your solution hits “go-live,” you should already have all the data you need to justify your decision to automate Accounts Payable. Ask your vendor if they will use real data or models during the implementation phase, and don’t be afraid to set strict 30/60/90-day milestones to ensure that your system is getting faster and more accurate. If your chosen vendor can’t provide evidence of ROI before you go-live, they might not be the right vendor for you.
Are you ready to automate Accounts Payable to cut costs, save time, improve visibility, preserve supplier relationships, and increase your bottom line? You can’t do it alone, but you can transform your business by aligning your organization with the right strategic partner for Accounts Payable Automation.
Together, you and your strategic partner will build a business case for AP Automation that will “wow” leadership, provide clear evidence of ROI, and present a comprehensive plan that accounts for every minute detail of your business processes. If you can find a solution that can be expanded to other departments, like Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more, you can squeeze even more value out of your solution without muddying your technology with various point solutions. You might even find that your best friend on the job is your strategic partner.
Did you know that, on average, companies that utilize Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software in their AP department report a 50 percent reduction in invoice processing costs? Furthermore, by leveraging their ECM platform’s AP Automation capabilities, many achieve straight-through processing (STP) rates of 75 percent or more when processing PO-based invoices.
These savings boil down to two major factors:
When you get an invoice, it has to make its way to your ERP. That could mean taking time out of an invoice processor’s day just to type in every individual line or information.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, an ECM staple, makes the latter scenario possible. It actively collects all paper-based and electronic files and documentation and syncs it with your ERP. Designed specifically for organizations that are looking to automate the Accounts Payable process, organizations can cut down on manual invoice matching, voucher creation, and ERP data keying with the right solution. Here’s how it works:
Invoices received as paper documents, email attachments, fax, or otherwise are scanned or imported directly into an OCR interface. This software creates a digital replica of the document and routes its information to an archive. Information is extracted from the header, body, and footer of each document.
This information is then verified by a combination of AI and machine learning and validated by utilizing automated database lookups, defined business rules, calculations, and defined confidence thresholds. The vendor information associated with each invoice is automatically identified, along with other critical information from line items and unstructured fields. IntelliChief Capture Enterprise, an industry-leading OCR software solution, even works on multiple-page invoices and batch invoices.
As a central component of our highly sophisticated AP Automation solution, Capture Enterprise has built-in invoice validation features, allowing it to process two- and three-way matches without user input through highly configurable workflows.
Invoices that fail validations, fall below confidence thresholds, or fail the invoice matching process can be reviewed and resolved immediately. Or, they can be routed through workflow for exception handling. Non-PO based invoices can be easily routed for GL coding and approval.
After all invoice types have been fully matched, approved, coded, or resolved, the data extracted and validated via Capture Enterprise for AP invoices will be delivered for ERP voucher creation.
IntelliChief can help you substantially reduce invoice cycle times. Organizations with IntelliChief are better positioned to take advantage of early payment vendor discounts or negotiate more favorable terms with their suppliers. IntelliChief also eliminates common invoice processing errors like duplicate invoices, and it can help your organization avoid wasting money on finding or reproducing lost or damaged documents.
Accounts Payable audits. Even if you’re prepared for them, you still dread them. There are always more Accounts Payable audit procedures than you plan for, and they tend to be incredibly costly, too.
Even though you can’t avoid them, you can automate the prep work, making it so that your Accounts Payable team no longer has to stop what they’re doing to find a random, years-old document that your auditor requests. It also means that your hourly payments aren’t wasted on time spent rummaging through filing cabinets in an attempt to locate a specific document or invoice.
Accounts Payable Automation not only automates invoice processing but also your AP audit preparation. Everything you need to prove compliance is readily available. Your processors no longer need to log the auditor’s request and search for documents manually. To streamline things even further, you can extend access to your auditors so they can access your archive through a dedicated on-site workstation, further decreasing the time required to complete an audit.
You have complete visibility into your inbound and outbound payments and a paper trail of who authorized what. It’s a complete record that maintains itself and provides more detail than what is present on the document itself.
As a component of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, your AP Automation solution should be able to provide real-time access to your documents across each of your individual systems. Everything in your archive is organized from the get-go, and searchable by any logged metadata. Say goodbye to the unnecessary overages that you used to incur as you waited (and waited) for your audits to be completed. This technology also makes it easier and more cost-effective to implement a more rigorous internal audit schedule. It’s so easy, in fact, that you could achieve daily AP audits if necessary.
Of course, audits don’t end after the information-gathering stage. Whether you use internal or independent audits, you still need to report on their findings. Accounts Payable Automation software makes it easy for you to share key data sets with your management, advisers, financiers, and investors.
An ECM-based AP Automation solution will allow you to deliver reports with custom dashboards, or you can use the self-service reporting tool to let each stakeholder access what they want to see. Some solutions, such as IntelliChief, require no coding knowledge, instead, relying on intuitive drag-and-drop simplicity that lets users visualize each audit’s results within seconds. Once reports are complete, they can be scheduled, shared, and archived in the user’s choice of electronic file format.
We pioneered the Accounts Payable Automation movement, which is why we’re proud to offer the most fully featured and complete AP Automation solution on the market. Our industry-leading straight-through processing rates combined with our resiliency as a strategic partner has helped us serve the needs of hundreds of customers across the United States and beyond. Improving your Accounts Payable audit procedures is easy with IntelliChief!
When you think about corporate growth, you may not think about the role of Accounts Payable. But AP can have more of an impact than you realize as you try to grow your enterprise.
The larger a company becomes, the more products it needs to create. And the more products it needs to create, the more supplies it needs to purchase.
As more and more transactions occur, Accounts Payable needs to grow in order to keep up the pace. Each employee can only process a certain number of invoices per day; eventually, more employees must be onboarded to keep up with rising volume.
A larger AP department does come at a higher cost, but there’s more than one way to expand your AP invoice processing capabilities —streamlining operations with Accounts Payable Automation.
Here’s how one IntelliChief customer leveraged AP Automation to grow their enterprise:
In a bid to manage and automate AP documentation while also supporting future software expansion, this customer sought an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform that would help them achieve their content management and AP Automation goals. After surveying the ECM marketplace, the company selected IntelliChief ECM and AP Automation.
One of the driving factors for this selection was IntelliChief’s ability to integrate seamlessly with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Extensive experience automating AP workflows was another key differentiator this customer couldn’t overlook. Best of all, IntelliChief was ready, willing, and able to improve their Accounts Payable department right away — and provide measurable results to back up their work.
This customer’s Director of Accounting noted that:
“IntelliChief has saved us considerable resource time and cost over our previous manual processes way of running our business, both in the AP department and in all others throughout the company utilizing the ECM system.”
With IntelliChief, they were able to continue their trend of consistent annual revenue growth and personnel expansion while meeting their business plan’s commitment to strategically increase their market share. By making sound investments in employees, facilities, and technologies, they were able to achieve meaningful success. The Director of Accounting continued:
“Automating our workflow with IntelliChief has provided us the ability to map our goals and targets, with visibility to processing status of daily tasks. This has provided us a phenomenal advantage with reviews and approvals, and with our cash flow management.”
With a 34 percent increase in personnel over a five year period, this IntelliChief customer aimed to minimize the challenges of scaling AP by phasing out manual processes in favor of automated document management and accounting workflows. This reduced the cost and time commitment of their invoice volume, which averaged 500 transactions processed per day.
This particular customer was tasked with managing manufacturing and distribution facilities in both the US and Europe. They also held regional offices across the globe. In order to stay connected, they needed a solution that could give everyone access to all of their financial records with streamlined search/retrieve capabilities. IntelliChief, which specializes in AP Automation, helped them eliminate tedious, manual processes so employees could focus on invoice exceptions.
Once the mandatory storage window has closed, the files are off to recycling. Meanwhile, a digital copy is kept in the IntelliChief archive. As you can see below, eliminating paper had a significant impact:
“We have paper storage both in-office and off-site in our warehouses. Freeing the space is allowing valuable square footage to be utilized more profitably.”
There was also the matter of audits. Working within a highly regulated industry, the company had to plan for regular audits — both internal and external.
They saw this as an opportunity to reduce the time and cost of these activities by establishing an auditing workstation on-site where auditors could search and retrieve documentation from the archive. This system eliminated the need to physically source documents from a file cabinet or warehouse in some corner of the world.
“Single point access had been an immense help with both Financial and Regulatory Affairs audits. The added convenience and time savings, both with auditors and our staff , is greatly reduced.”
In addition to audits, their Regulatory Affairs department utilized IntelliChief as a secure digital repository for all product and procedure information related to their governing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
After verifying the benefits of IntelliChief Accounts Payable Automation, interdepartmental expansion was the company’s next move. Here’s how they expanded their solution:
All of these expansions were ultimately productive and conducive to their ROI goals. Here’s what they had to say:
“The Production and Quality Control groups together have benefitted from tandem use of IntelliChief; it continually helped with project organization and oversight. Maintaining all project records together in a single repository, with automated workflow among those involved with each project, has simplified communications and enhanced delivery times notably.”
This customer joined hundreds of others who leverage IntelliChief’s robust content management and process automation capabilities to streamline workflows, automate tedious tasks, and eliminate paper. They no longer face problems of scale, because IntelliChief can handle increasing invoice volume without interrupting your business process or making you pause to onboard new assets.
As the United States transitions into 2021 with a full head of steam and the burden of 2020’s unique challenges, it has become apparent that organizations are facing an uphill battle. Industry leaders and analysts agree that automation has become a top priority to not only improve efficiency but also become more resilient. For most businesses, this starts in the Accounting department, where automation can unlock unprecedented invoice processing speeds while mitigating errors and generating an ROI of as much as 200 percent.
There are several types of automation that can be used to improve the Accounting department, including:
Selecting the “right” solution depends on several factors, such as the scope of your AP operations, the core technologies you rely on, and the growth objectives that have been established for your company.
By failing to identify which type of automation is best suited to serve your business, you might miss out on some of the most important benefits that help you achieve true automation, often referred to as “touchless” or “straight-through” processing.
When it comes to automation, even the most minute detail matters. From the moment you start to perform your due diligence, you need to be wholly aware of your endgame. Are you trying to automate procurement specifically? Or does your organization want a solution that can automate Accounts Payable from start to finish? Can your solution also be used to automate Accounts Receivable? And what about other departments and business units?
Unfortunately, this article will not answer all of these questions — you will need to talk to an expert for that — but it will help you answer the most important question of all:
As we mentioned earlier, Procurement Automation, Payments Automation, and Accounts Payable Automation are three technologies that can help the Accounting department become faster, more accurate, and resilient to business interruptions — all while reducing costs and freeing up assets for reallocation throughout the organization.
Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered “point solutions” that automate one function of the Accounts Payable process. For some companies, point solutions such as these can be a relatively inexpensive and effective solution for specific Accounting challenges. Accounts Payable Automation is considered an end-to-end solution because it automates the entire AP process. Accounts Payable Automation is inherently more complex but yields the greatest ROI in terms of operational improvements and long-term cost savings. By taking a closer look at these three types of automation, you can determine which is right for your business.
Procurement Automation is used to automate the first step in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process — procurement. Essentially, it helps organizations manage spending by consolidating vendors and products to a single platform to streamline purchasing. Users can compare prices and volume discounts manually, or automation can perform procurement according to programmed business rules. It also makes the process of following workflows, policies, and guidelines much simpler.
One of the most significant benefits of Procurement Automation is its ability to help you prevent unapproved purchases by taking out the element of randomness introduced by a human procurement professional. That said, this type of automation is somewhat limited in functionality and highly dependent on integrations with other applications that may require assistance from the vendor’s professional services team.
Whereas Procurement Automation handles the purchasing phase of the P2P process, Payments Automation deals with the latter half of this crucial process. Payments Automation helps to streamline payment completion and delivery. Whether your business makes payments via check, ACH, wire, or virtual card, Payments Automation can help improve efficiency and minimize erroneous payments.
When approached as a point solution, Payments Automation requires integration with other technologies, including Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, AP Automation, and more. Some solutions depend on third parties to complete payments, leading to privacy concerns. When implemented properly, Payments Automation can lead to faster cycle times, cheaper transactions, fewer instances of fraud, increased visibility, and more.
Unfortunately, Payments Automation has a glaring weakness. Integration is spotty at best. Some users may need to login and logout of multiple systems to complete a payment, such as the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and any other platforms that are not seamlessly integrated with the solution. These concerns are largely addressed by Accounts Payable Automation, which considers the entire P2P process from start to finish.
In today’s increasingly competitive markets, simply automating procurement or payments oftentimes falls short of an organization’s ultimate goal. The P2P cycle starts with procurement and ends with payment, but there are many workflow steps between these tasks. This is where Accounts Payable Automation truly shines, although a robust solution can also factor in procurement and payment, too.
AP Automation is highly dependent on integration. Your solution should integrate seamlessly with your core ERP system and any other technologies that help you collect, review, process, and pay invoices. Seamless doesn’t just mean “playing nice” with the various applications that keep your business running smoothly. Seamless integrations will allow users to control all aspects of Accounts Payable from a single platform. Therefore, if your solution allows you to process transactions in your native ERP system without accessing it directly, it is highly likely that it has been seamlessly integrated. Very few vendors offer this level of compatibility and integration, which is why Accounts Payable Automation is typically seen in enterprises where anything except touchless processing is simply too slow or erroneous to stay competitive.
Some vendors offer a single product marketed as Accounts Payable Automation Software (or similar). Others offer a single-source solution for all enterprise content, including (but not limited to) Accounts Payable documentation, as part of an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. There are some important distinctions between the two that must be considered before moving forward with a purchasing decision.
Earlier, we mentioned that Procurement Automation and Payments Automation are considered point solutions. However, AP Automation can also be a point solution when the software focuses specifically on Accounts Payable and nothing else. These solutions might require you to realign your AP process with their preferred methodology to help automate AP from start to finish. From a cost perspective, these solutions might be less expensive upfront but prove more costly in the long haul due to a lack of control over the direction of the software and a high level of reliance on the vendor.
When your organization utilizes AP Automation features as part of an Enterprise Content Management system, it is getting the most sophisticated and exhaustive feature set possible, meaning more robust integrations and capabilities from Day 1. As we mentioned above, some point solutions rely on other third-party solutions to achieve “true” automation. With ECM-based AP Automation, every step of your Accounts Payable process is supported with integrated technologies housed within a single platform. And while that single piece of technology is highly complex, this complexity is tucked away out of sight within a single user-friendly platform. For example, our Enterprise Content Management system covers all your bases, including:
Any enterprise is going to require all of these technologies in one form or another. Enterprise Content Management consolidates them into a single platform to make integration simple and avoid process inefficiencies.
Finding the right automation solution for your Accounting department is a crucial decision that will undoubtedly have long-term ramifications for your business. Although making a decision in a timely manner is important for accelerating the timetable on your automation project, it’s more important to find the right solution and move forward at a gradual pace to account for any potential pitfalls that may pop up during your due diligence. If you have questions about automation for your Accounting department, our experts are standing by to assist you — no commitment necessary.
Are you interested in learning more about the various types of automation that can help improve your Accounting department? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our award-winning automation solutions.
For business leaders, it can feel like the goalposts are constantly being moved when it comes to Enterprise Automation. Innovation is at an all-time high, which means new features, functions, integrations, and products are always on the horizon. A quick search online might yield dozens of potential vendors. Due diligence could take weeks, even months, to complete. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean you should stall your Digital Transformation; instead, consider these ten Enterprise Automation statistics!
Before you can automate, you must first digitize. Digitization of your business-critical documents ensures that they are never lost or destroyed. They can be recalled on demand without a trip to the file cabinet or warehouse, allowing you to establish a frictionless work environment where productivity is prioritized. It takes employees an average of 18 minutes to locate a document manually, which can account for up to 50 percent of their time. When you digitize your documents, you reclaim this time lost and set the stage for the real game-changer: Enterprise Automation.
Once you’ve performed your due diligence and identified your ideal solution, it’s time to identify which business processes are best suited for automation. When automating workflows, you want to zero in on departments that process a large volume of paper and/or information. In our experience, some of the best departments to automate include:
There is no “wrong” answer when you start to automate business processes; however, there are certain departments that will yield a higher ROI than others due to a number of factors. Here’s the good news. According to a McKinsey Study, 60 percent of occupations could save 30 percent of their time with automation, which means the potential for automation within your organization is largely untapped.
Businesses that automate drastically reduce wasteful spending by eliminating repetitive, time-consuming tasks that lead to productivity issues. In a study conducted by DJS Research on behalf of Unit 4, it was revealed that people spend 69 workdays each year performing manual administration-related tasks instead of their primary job duties. Enterprise Automation helps you reclaim this time and put it to use however you see fit. Can you imagine how much more your employees could accomplish with an extra 552 hours per year?
Another benefit of Enterprise Automation is that it allows you to bolster your analytics efforts to get a clearer view of the nuances of what is (and isn’t) working process-wise within your organization. You can identify operational bottlenecks, inefficient processes, and even track individual performance to make sure each of your team members is putting forth equal input to help you achieve your fiscal goals. You don’t have to wait until the end of the quarter to collect data and generate reports like the old days. You simply click a button and your reports are ready to view or distribute. Improving business intelligence keeps everyone in your organization on the same page and working towards the same objectives, which explains Business Application Research Center (BARC) findings that businesses with big data capabilities are able to reduce overall costs by 10 percent and increase overall profits by 8 percent on average.
Collectively, businesses forfeit $600 billion annually as a result of poor quality data. On a case-by-case basis, this can account for as much as 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs. That’s not a figure to scoff at. The Business Literacy Institute considers a sustained growth rate of 10 percent a year to be “remarkably good,” so if you’re currently losing 20-35 percent of operating revenue costs to bad data, the numbers suggest that your business could be trending in the wrong direction.
$600 billion in lost operating revenue costs will certainly catch the attention of any executive, but it’s only a small fraction of the revenues lost to manual business processes. Manual business processes cost businesses $5 trillion annually. For reference, that is $2 trillion more than the U.S. deficit for 2020. Of all the Enterprise Automation statistics in this article, this might be the most alarming because it suggests a significant window of opportunity for any executive who is willing to take the leap and automate their company.
Businesses that are no longer at a functional disadvantage can do more with the resources available to them. Growth is a key indicator of a company’s overall success. 75 percent of businesses state that AI will allow them to transition into new businesses and ventures, allowing them to expand operations into new and increasingly profitable areas that would be barred off otherwise. For growth-minded executives fueled by ambition, an investment in Enterprise Automation equates to an investment in a growing portfolio of future-proof ventures.
Executives and analysts alike are keen on automation because there is still a long way to go before this technology has been adopted universally. In other words, companies that automate sooner than later can get a head start in Industry 4.0. Just think, how would your business look today if you were the first to invest in a mobile-friendly website, automated customer service, or paperless process management? There’s a reasonable chance that with earlier adoption of these technologies, many of which were considered big risks at one point, your business would be further along with its Digital Transformation and more resilient to business interruptions. According to Forbes, 84 percent of executives and analysts say AI will help them obtain or sustain a competitive advantage — which means there is no time to waste.
AI plays an important role in automating business processes, but it’s not the only solution for companies looking to streamline and cut costs. 67 percent of businesses believe implementing digital or software solutions is important to remain competitive. Some examples of software solutions that can help enhance the enterprise include:
According to ThinkAutomation, automation projects in paper-intensive departments, like Accounts Payable, Human Resources, and Customer Service, typically generate an ROI of 30-200 percent in the first year. In Accounts Payable, where Enterprise Automation can increase processing speeds by as much as 70 percent or more, many businesses recoup their initial investment in less than twelve months. Forward-thinking executives tend to leverage these savings to expand their solution across the enterprise to facilitate a more connected, data-savvy work environment.
Are you ready to cut costs, increase operational efficiency, and future-proof your business? These ten Enterprise Automation statistics speak for themselves, but it’s up to you to be the voice of reason at your company. If your team is still entering data to your ERP system manually, shuffling through file cabinets to locate documents, or paying the same invoice more than once, it’s time to make a change.
With IntelliChief, you can preserve your existing business processes and enhance them with industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation capabilities. To learn more, contact IntelliChief today.
Accounts Payable Automation is a powerful tool for any organization that finds itself processing a large volume of transactional information on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to identify the nuances (and potential nuances) of their AP process. Matching a PO to an invoice and receipt is a relatively simple process to automate, but what happens when additional approvals are necessary to fully vet a transaction? What happens when a 2-way matching process requires an additional step? And what happens when a fourth match is required? Here’s everything you need to know about Accounts Payable Automation 4-Way Matching:
Although Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching is rarely top of mind when an organization decides to seek out an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution for AP Automation, it can be achieved with the right vendor. For example, if your organization is headquartered in the United States but has operations spanning North America and Europe, the major drivers for such a project might include:
All of these benefits can be realized with the right ECM solution for your organization; however, your shortlist of solutions should be just that — short. Reducing the amount of time required to complete the matching process is key to faster and more efficient workflows, but if your solution only automates simple 2-way matching or more advanced 3-way matches, certain transactions will inevitably fall through the cracks. Few solutions can capably perform 4-way matches, but those that can tend to support higher rates of “straight-through processing” and greatly reduce the amount of manual, error-prone work performed by employees.
The precursor to a reliable Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching process is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system(s) at the heart of your organization and the ECM solution that will help you unlock new features using your existing software infrastructure. Most organizations will review vendors and perform due diligence until they find a solution that can be expanded throughout their organization without bringing additional vendors into the fold and integrates with their current ERP(s).
Before a definitive selection can be made; however, your organization must develop a robust understanding of your existing business processes and the underlying workflows that drive these processes forward. This is best accomplished by partnering with a vendor that is willing to perform a comprehensive discovery and whiteboarding session to identify just how complex these processes truly are (and whether or not Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching capabilities are necessary to help you reach your goals).
An example of a 4-way match is an invoice that must be matched to a purchased order (PO) and then to a receiver, before finally being matched against a quality inspection sheet. The additional flexibility of being able to emulate such a nuanced workflow with automation is extremely liberating for businesses that want to be able to fully automate their enterprise. And it shows as organizations that implement seemingly become leaner and more profitable overnight.
Accounts Payable Automation 4-way matching is an advanced capability that helps companies close the gap on straight-through processing rates exceeding 90 percent or greater. By automating the entire AP process from document capture to workflow and approval, your organization can cultivate an environment where only the rare exception will require manual handling.
In this touchless environment where no ERP keying or other human interaction is needed, ERP lookups for vouchering, validating, and supplementing key data between systems are executed using a rules-based business process automation workflow mapped to your specific practices, enabling lightning-fast reviews and approvals. This is achieved using cross-reference table algorithms that normalize data among systems and constantly match variables to maintain data integrity. AP processing staff can be reduced or reallocated, giving them the additional bandwidth needed to concentrate on strategic operations. Lastly, the ancillary benefit of AP Automation in related vendor fees, paper, and onsite and offsite storage costs — which can oftentimes be eliminated altogether savings tens of thousands or more.
Staying competitive is a challenge for every business in today’s business climate. Innovation is at an all-time high, and if you fail to keep up with the trends sweeping your industry, you could find yourself at a significant disadvantage. Fortunately, there are two ways to increase your bottom line:
In this article, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Automation experts at IntelliChief will cover the types of unprecedented cost savings that can be achieved when your company is running at peak efficiency.
Paper and its related expenses are one of the biggest spending items for a company. Enterprise Content Management greatly decreases costs due to printing, faxing, storing, and otherwise using paper for all types of business transactions.
Storage is an expense many companies incur for keeping paper documents. If a manual system requires the retention of paper documents, such as accounting records, for a certain number of years, the cost of doing business can rise sharply. These expenses only grow as more physical storage is required, as does the cost of retrieving these documents. ECM eliminates costly storage and consolidates all documents within your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with everything available at the press of a key.
Labor is one of the largest expenses in most companies. Making copies, manually routing documents, and hunting for lost paper items is time-consuming, inefficient, and repetitive. Companies that can pass of menial tasks to automation tend to have happier employees. These employees are empowered by the use of electronic tools to search for information and complete customer service tasks with ease. Documents move through an electronic workflow system so employees make decisions quickly. Losing information is no longer a costly problem. Employees can collaborate to resolve problems and issues directly from their PC or mobile devices, in any location, working together at the same time for speedy resolution.
With a manual system, companies need to keep constant track of purchase orders, requisitions, orders, and invoices. Not only is it time-consuming but it also leads to important items falling through the cracks. ECM and Automation improve customer relations because it shortens the time to find information, produces invoices faster, and keeps employees updated for faster turnaround with vendors and customers. It frees up employees to go where they are needed, rather than continuously handling paper to get business done.
You can still receive Purchase Orders, Requisitions, and Orders how yo always have, whether it is a fax, postal mail, email, or Web; however, once these documents enter your system, they will be accessible on-demand whenever and wherever they are required.
With Enterprise Content Management, any authorized employee can gain immediate access to all Accounts Payable documents – purchase orders, acknowledgments, receiving documents, invoices, and checks.
A major advantage of using ECM is avoiding lost or missing documents and the costs incurred with a lost document — costing an average of $500 per document to replace. Other major savings by going paperless with Accounts Payable documents include lower costs for printing, postage, faxing, special delivery, and storage.
Electronically managing the Accounts Payable has many benefits:
It’s also worth noting that these benefits are largely transferrable to other departments, including Accounts Receivable, Order Entry, and more.
Regulatory compliance for Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA requires strong security and specific legal mandates for companies. They have to consider external government regulations and internal security policies as a critical part of doing business. With paperless process management, time limits for retaining documents are easily established. When documents are no longer needed, they can easily be purged according to strict time controls to limit any liability issues.
An Enterprise Content Management system provides security against unauthorized access as well as the accidental or deliberate loss of records. Documents are automatically stored according to company-designed rules and regulations.
The Gartner Group concludes that two out of five organizations that experience a disaster go out of business within five years. The principal reason: loss of documentation critical to a businesses’ daily function. A paperless process management solution has built-in backup and recovery capabilities in the event of a disaster.
All business processes can be integrated into a Disaster Recovery Plan with paperless process management. All documents can be retrieved as needed from any location.
Is there anything more frustrating than footing the bill for a fraudulent or inaccurate invoice? For years, business owners have struggled to give their Accounts Payable (AP) departments the tools they need to prevent invoice processing errors related to manual data entry, duplicate invoices, and faulty exception handling — and it’s starting to take a toll on several industries.
According to Infor, “approximately 0.1% to 0.05% of invoices paid are typically duplicate payments.” In other words, a business that grosses $150 million per year could lose as much as $750,000 to duplicate payments over a five-year period. This “lost” money could have been invested in training, bonuses, infrastructure, and virtually anything else businesses need to succeed. For most businesses, utilizing a 3-way matching process is a reliable way to cut down on matching errors, but it can also lead to additional Accounts Payable challenges.
In theory, a true 3-way matching process matches not only the invoice and purchase order but also its corresponding receiving information, thereby eliminating the chance for duplicate payments and counterfeit invoices. Unfortunately, this process can be a hindrance for businesses that aren’t equipped with the tools to process invoices quickly and accurately. For instance, some enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems require the processor to manually check to ensure that all related documents have been received to approve the 3-way match and complete the AP process. Another common ERP-related issue is a system’s inability to read purchase orders (POs) and receipt tables, rendering automatic voucher creation an impossibility.
IntelliChief, was built to overcome these limitations with unparalleled workflow automation and invoice matching capabilities. Unlock your team’s true potential by eliminating pitfalls in your existing AP process and watch productivity soar as you reduce manual exception handling by as much as 50% or more.
Too often we find that enterprise-class software wants your business to play by their rules. Whether you’ve been in business for one, ten, or one hundred years, your existing business processes should be respected and considered whenever new technology is incorporated into your workflow. A lack of flexibility is one of the major detractors of point solutions that aim to address a single issue. You can’t apply their technology to other departments or workflows, and you must mold your existing processes to “play nice” with their system.
IntelliChief is unique because it is an enterprise content management (ECM) platform that integrates directly with your ERP system and can be configured to your exact business processes. Whether you utilize a 2-, 3-, or 4-way matching process, IntelliChief can be configured accordingly to help you reduce lag time and AP errors.
How do you streamline a process that grinds to a halt every time something unfamiliar enters your queue? On top of that, how do you ensure that easily processed documents aren’t trapped behind a wall of exceptions? Realistically, utilizing any sort of queue in your process will lead to slowdowns and additional Accounts Payable challenges. For example, if your team members must enter an invoice to see if the receiving has been completed, it’s only a matter of time before your entire system is bogged down.
As an Infor Solution Partner and Oracle Gold Partner, IntelliChief matches invoices in real-time to help businesses avoid late fees while capitalizing on opportunities for early payment discounts. Exceptions are routed into workflow and automatically processed once the system has enough confidence in a match or recognizes that it’s within your tolerances. Any exceptions that fail the confidence test are then routed to a user for manual approval, leaving only your most pressing (and real) exceptions to be handled by your AP department.
Reducing the number of exceptions in your AP process is a surefire way to increase productivity. Whenever your processors are forced to deal with an exception, they are committing extra time to a particular transaction regardless of its value. Whether a transaction is worth $1 or $1 million, every additional second your team requires to process it is being siphoned directly from your bottom line.
Therefore, if you can reduce the amount of time spent handling exceptions, you can realize significant cost savings. IntelliChief can automatically perform unit of measure and part number conversions to reduce exceptions. For example:
By addressing the above concerns with an industry-leading ECM solution like IntelliChief, your business can take advantage of faster processing times and fewer exceptions. It allows businesses to accelerate invoice or customer purchase order processing by eliminating manual intervention and automating your workflow. Even complex matching procedures, such as those involving blanket POs, are no problem for IntelliChief.
As soon as your information enters the system, a 2-, 3-, or 4-way match is performed automatically. With normalization and cross-referencing, the number of transactions that require manual intervention is reduced even further. IntelliChief Capture Enterprise users can even unlock the ability to use straight-through processing, which allows invoices to be processed without any manual entry or intervention from the beginning. As the statistics below prove, the leap in productivity is nothing short of alarming:
With IntelliChief, you can reduce the burden of exception handling on your AP team, reach unprecedented processing speeds, and decrease the number of errors in your process by a wide margin. Even when your team is out of the office or unavailable, IntelliChief continues to process transactions in real-time from start to finish.
There are many benefits for businesses that rely on 3-way matching, including stronger supplier relationships, increased profitability, and superior preparedness for financial audits. However, businesses that don’t automate this process are often overwhelmed with the time- and labor-intensive nature of manually performing 3-way matches. To scale this process as you grow your business, automation is critical. With IntelliChief, there’s no limit to how many documents you can process — even when the office is closed — thanks to robust automation capabilities that learn (and master) your business-critical processes.
The IntelliChief Capture Enterprise for AP Invoices solution allows your business to take advantage of Accounts Payable straight-through processing cost savings. It was designed from the ground up for organizations looking to automate their AP processes from start to finish. With IntelliChief, your company’s goals of eliminating manual ERP data keying, invoice matching, and voucher creation are finally attainable.
Invoices received as paper documents, email attachments, or other means are scanned or imported into Capture Enterprise. Then, information from the header, body, and footer of these invoices is extracted. Next, this information is verified and validated with the data stored in your ERP using database lookups, defined business rules, calculations, and confidence thresholds. The vendor associated with each invoice is automatically identified, and other critical pieces of information, including line items on single and multiple-page invoices, are processed. If all of the necessary information is available for a particular document, it can be processed without user intervention.
IntelliChief offers Accounts Payable validations, such as mathematical calculations and automated two-way and three-way matching. Invoices that fail validations, fall below confidence thresholds, or fail the invoice matching process can be reviewed and resolved immediately or routed through your configured workflow for exception handling. Non-PO-based invoices can be routed for GL coding and approval. After all invoice types have been fully matched, approved, coded, or otherwise resolved, the data extracted and validated via Capture Enterprise will be delivered for voucher creation within your ERP or financial application without any manual keying.
New invoice layouts are set up in minutes by AP professionals as they process invoices, resulting in reduced invoice processing costs and cycle times. Capture Enterprise users have reported more than a 50 percent reduction in invoice processing costs and over 75 percent straight-through processing on PO-based invoices. By drastically reducing invoice cycle times, organizations are positioned to take advantage of early pay vendor discounts or, at the very least, to begin negotiations that can lead to increasingly favorable terms suppliers. Without IntelliChief, it’s markedly more difficult to get these types of conversations off the ground.
You have to spend money to make money, which is why Accounts Payable has long been considered the crux of an organization’s operational capabilities. Automating the Purchase-to-Pay process is one of the most effective measures enterprises can take to streamline Invoice Processing, improve vendor relations, and eliminate tedious, manual tasks. Below, we explore how one company achieved unheralded levels of productivity by automating the Purchase-to-Pay process.
Landoll Corporation’s history can be traced back to humble beginnings in 1963. Starting as a small company with only three employees, Landoll’s founders never imagined that their company would grow to become a global leader in innovative product design for agriculture, transportation, material handling, OEM, military, and government sectors — but through hard work and diligence, it did just that. Today, Landoll continues to innovate by developing some of the most durable and high-quality farm equipment, construction equipment, and trailers available.
Over the last half-century, Landoll has faced many challenges in its bid for growth. One seemingly constant detriment to Landoll’s success was the manual, paper-based processes hindering progress in Accounts Payable. Landoll’s Invoice volume was astronomical, making timely vendor payments an exception, rather than the rule.
“When I looked at the size and scope of the business process that we had become entangled, I decided we had to develop a paperless business model.” — John C. Schmidt, Group Manager at Landoll
This realization began the search for a solution that would allow Landoll to automate the Purchase-to-Pay process. After multiple rounds of due diligence, Landoll settled on IntelliChief as their go-forward solution for P2P automation. Leveraging the robust Content Management and Workflow Automation capabilities of IntelliChief’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform, Landoll was able to automate the Purchase-to-Pay process to save time and money.
“The point to be made is this — buyers should be focusing on the buying process and developing quality vendors with the ability to deliver products on time at competitive prices, not shuffling paper between departments and staff.”
IntelliChief was implemented to streamline Landoll’s Purchase-to-Pay process. This would be accomplished by eliminating the need for paper, starting with the purchasing phase. Here’s how it works:
IntelliChief’s advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software client, Capture Enterprise, enabled Landoll to capture key information from transactional documentation. With comprehensive AI capabilities, Capture Enterprise makes all transactional data usable, whether structured or unstructured.
IntelliChief’s highly intelligent OCR software extracts data from all paper, fax, and email documents and automatically populates processing fields in IntelliChief. This information is then verified against the data stored in Landoll’s Infor ERP. This data is indexed and archived, as are the corresponding image files.
Consider this scenario involving Order Acknowledgements:
If a buyer gets an email response from a supplier stating, ‘We have received your PO and we will ship as expected by the requested date,’ it is considerably more efficient to capture the Acknowledgment in IntelliChief with the purchase documentation collection, instead of filing it in a drawer with the PO.”
Here’s how IntelliChief helped address this scenario:
“If a problem with the shipment occurs, the buyer can pull up the PO in IntelliChief and see all related documents and determine the source of the problem. When the vendor is contacted, all the purchase information is available to the buyer, allowing for a quick resolution. The same process is applied to vendors, quotes and pricing. Capturing it all in IntelliChief is a significant time saver.”
When materials are received, the receiving documents are also electronically captured. The same processing occurs with Bills of Lading and related Packing Slips. IntelliChief doesn’t care what type of document is being captured, it captures all information indiscriminately and archives it automatically according to pre-existing business rules that leverage machine learning to get smarter over time.
Why is this important? It allows IntelliChief to connect receiving documents with the corresponding PO and any other related documentation. Without any manual labor, a full transactional record or “digital paper trail” is formed. When Landoll processors retrieve any document from this record, they will instantly have access to related documents — making the process of handling purchasing discrepancies a total breeze. Read on for more comments from John C. Schmidt, Group Manager at Landoll:
“For orders to have items that were back-ordered or shipped incorrectly, IntelliChief’s workflow can expedite resolution of these issues in an efficient manner. When there’s a discrepancy in the Packing Slip, it can be electronically routed to the specific buyer. It’s very easy and cost-effective when compared to our paper process days.”
Schmidt also pointed out another important benefit of going paperless:
“In the past, we used 15 filing cabinets and a warehouse to store our purchasing documents. With IntelliChief, we have no filing cabinets nor are we moving any files to the warehouse. The square footage previously occupied with filing cabinets in the AP Department is now being used for additional, much-needed meeting space. Filing time of the past is now directed to more productive purposes.”
Before IntelliChief, Landoll relied on two full-time employees to manage the filing, searching, and retrieving of Purchase Orders, quotes, and vendor-related information. Now, these employees have been reassigned within the company. Instead of tedious, manual data entry and file management, they are making strategic contributions to the company.
IntelliChief also assists Landoll with payment scheduling and scheduling optimization. Before IntelliChief, Invoices that arrived via mail, fax, or email would eventually be manually printed, sorted, marked up, and distributed by Landoll’s Accounts Payable staff. Every day, an average of 100 Invoices were processed via this method. The process was highly manual, resulting in countless wasted man-hours in AP.
Whenever a discrepancy occurred, an AP processor would send a paper copy of the Invoice to the appropriate buyer for resolution, stalling AP processing until it was returned. Meanwhile, an Excel spreadsheet was utilized as a log to track the Invoices requiring resolution. This file would then be sent to managers for review and approval — more manual work to increase processing time.
This highly manual approval process meant Invoices were being handled four to five times each, resulting in poor payment scheduling optimization and:
Finally, after an Invoice was approved and a check was cut, it was matched against a duplicate copy of the check and filed in the filing cabinets by vendor name. But those were the old days, and Landoll had no intention of looking back. Just ask Susan Slater, AP Supervisor at Landoll:
“Now, Invoices that arrive via fax are electronically captured and are routed to the appropriate AP staffer’s electronic inbox. Mailed Invoices are processed and scanned by Administrators, who then index them with the appropriate vendor and PO number. IntelliChief’s workflow process routes the Invoice to the appropriate AP staff’s inbox. Emailed Invoices are captured with Capture Enterprise, with email and attachments sent to the imaging database.” — Susan Slater, Accounts Payable Supervisor at Landoll
With IntelliChief, payment scheduling optimization is enabled with visibility provided through IntelliChief’s industry-leading integration capabilities. Invoices are now sorted to determine which ones to pay first. Attempting this with the old paper system proved difficult and inefficient.
This entire electronic procedure for capturing and routing Invoices helps speed up the process. It is essential to receiving early payment discounts, accounting for considerable capital annually.”
If there is a need to review past transactions or any documents associated with it, IntelliChief’s search function retrieves the required information by the vendor number, PO number, Invoice number, or any other relevant metadata.
With IntelliChief, Landoll’s digital transformation had begun. Leveraging results from their P2P Automation, Landoll set its sights on expanding IntelliChief utilization to other departments, business units, and processes, such as its Order-to-Cash operations. Landoll has enabled everyone from Sales, Customer Service, Order Processing, Invoicing, and Collections to go paperless with IntelliChief.
Streamlining purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash processes is at the top of every organization’s to-do list. The P2P and O2C cycles are rife with inefficiencies that can be addressed with the right technology, especially when these processes are paper-based and highly manual.
In this article, we detail the story of one IntelliChief customer whose severe paper overload wrought internal havoc on their businesses, resulting in misfiled documents, lost invoices, and customer service delays. Their solution included:
Here is the justification for this particular customer’s Purchase-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash project according to their Accounting Manager:
“We were looking to improve processes to save time and money and improve how we dealt with customers and how we did our daily jobs. Our ultimate goal was to find a way to improve the bottom line, to improve profitability.”
This company’s solution search party asked their ERP provider to recommend a content management and process automation solution. They recommended IntelliChief on the basis of its feature-rich capabilities and seamless integration with their ERP system. However, a simple recommendation wasn’t enough to obtain project approval. For that, the CEO and CFO wanted evidence of real ROI, including reduced costs for:
“Neither the CEO or CFO wanted to see any soft dollars. We were able to show there were big savings, which could be used to improve profitability and services, and those were hard dollars.”
Therefore, the first challenge was streamlining the Purchase-to-Pay process, from purchasing to receiving and Accounts Payable. When creating POs, buyers printed them, emailed or faxed them to the vendor, stapled the confirmation receipt to the PO, and put everything in a basket to wait for confirmation. This process took up to 4 hours (on a good day). Clearly, something needed to change. Here’s our approach:
The cumbersome, time-consuming steps were eliminated with IntelliChief and a new, streamlined P2P process was established:
Not only is the P2P process streamlined but all documents can be retrieved on familiar ERP screens at any time by IntelliChief users.
Before IntelliChief, incoming products had receiving documents matched against POs, keyed into the ERP, and filed. When invoices arrived in Accounts Payable, invoices were matched against the receiving record in the system. If there was a discrepancy, AP staff needed to look for the original receiving documents to determine if they had been incorrectly entered into the ERP — or if the invoice was wrong. Consider these remarks by one Accounts Payable Associate:
“If the purchase had been made by one of our other facilities, I had to call them to send me a copy of the receiving documents, so I could match, review everything associated, and find out what happened.”
Today, after documents are matched in the warehouse and a receiving record has been created in the ERP, the receiving documents are scanned into IntelliChief, eliminating the need for hard copies and ensuring they are digitally available without the need to send physical paper to Accounts Payable.
Let’s break down a few ways this customer streamlined Accounts Payable:
“Previously, every day I had to pull up the folder and try to match invoices. That was a big pain. With IntelliChief, the invoices are awaiting electronic matching with the receiver, as if they were saying, ‘Hey, here we are!’ It’s a tremendous time saver.”
Prior to IntelliChief, an insurmountable paper trail prevented invoices that needed quck approvals. Copies were made by AP staff, sent to the appropriate manager for approval, and returned to AP for a voucher.
“When invoices make it back to us, I had to contact each person to verify they received it, approved it, and sent it back. Sometimes invoices were paid late, or we couldn’t take advantage of vendor discounts because we couldn’t make the deadline. IntelliChief now electronically forwards invoices or approval to the correct person. They approve it with a single click. With IntelliChief’s automated workflow, the company has put an end to missing invoices, delays and unachieved discount savings.”
When Accounts Payable wanted to pay invoices, Accounts Payableagain had to match paper documents. Associates could spend upwards of half the day manually matching invoices and checks to be approved and signed by senior staff. This meant manually searching through filing cabinets for correct invoices and putting them in a folder with the corresponding check.
IntelliChief saves checks as an electronic image and manages them in workflow. It’s secure, simple, and streamlined.
“IntelliChief automates our check production; checks go via Workflow to senior staff, and they can simply click and look up the relevant documentation on-screen and either approve or void the check.”
The second challenge was sales orders, which flowed in via fax, email, and postal mail. They were manually routed to the Traffic Group for review and carrier information access and logged before going to Order Entry. Then, they were sent back to the Customer Service Representative (CSR) or manager with any questions or when a discount required approval.
Here’s what the Customer Service Manager had to say about it:
“There was no way to know where in the process the order was at any given time, until it was put into the system. Sometimes we had to ask the customer to re-send, which you can imagine they weren’t very happy about. Then the workflow-by-hand is a tedious process, having to constantly ask staff in various departments where the order presently is, and where it’s going next. It slowed our fulfillment.”
After the order was entered, an acknowledgment was printed, proofed, and compared to the PO. Once approved, a CSR made a copy, faxed or mailed it to the customer, and filed the copy with the PO. It was slow, inefficient, and costly. Fortunately, it was also fixed.
With IntelliChief, order processing is efficient. Faxed orders are captured with FastFax, mailed orders are scanned into the system, and emailed orders are saved with IntelliChief’s easy-to-use capture capabilities. Every single document is archived in the IntelliChief database.
Electronic orders are sent to Order Entry or the CSR via workflow. Once in workflow, the order is routed to Traffic and then to Order Entry. IntelliChief creates and saves the Acknowledgment, which is faxed or emailed directly to the customer.
“We now have only 3 people involved in the process rather than 7 previously, and we always know exactly where the order is. IntelliChief cut our order process time in half.”
When customers called with questions about invoices, CSRs had to request a copy from Accounting. According to the Accounting Manager, this was also problematic:
“Prior to IntelliChief, the invoice had to be pulled from the files, which could take minutes or hours, and then logged. The order history (original PO, any change orders, acknowledgments, and all related documents) is now electronic. We can view order status through IntelliChief and see where any bottlenecks are. We can see if orders are not being entered. Invoices are emailed to customers, saving postage, labor, and mailing costs.”
IntelliChief provides the company both ROI and intangible benefits. Here’s what they said:
“It helped decrease the stress level! Being able to really see what’s happening, to see where holdups are is incredible. From a management standpoint, that’s a measurable benefit to me.”
But that’s not all:
We can’t wait until next year when the independent auditors come in. We’ll provide them with a workstation accessing IntelliChief, and they can do document searches without involving any of our Accounting staff.”
Implementing process automation is admittedly a procedural shift. But in time, employees, managers, and business leaders can all agree that it makes life easier for everyone.
“The idea of not having paper anymore for some people was difficult to overcome, initially. They now understand automation is a real advantage for all of us, with how we serve our customers, and everyone realizes the competitive advantage it provides us.”
To get your company on board with an AP automation project, you need to show a clear ROI. Thankfully, it’s an easy case to build. Cost savings typically average 80 percent – and most companies achieve a full return on their investment within a single year.
Invoice processing is the most common process that AP departments automate. And the justification is there: the costs are reduced from $14-$17 per invoice (when done manually) to $3 (when automated.) The time investment is lower as well: the typical cycle is cut from 14 days to 3 days with automation.
Lower costs, fewer late fees, and more early payment discounts are the norm – not the exception. That’s the AP automation ROI realized.
Realistically, the dollar savings are most important. But there are other, “softer” savings that you’ll also achieve. Consider:
The ROI of Control: Automating your AP workflows provides additional control for everyone involved. Standardizes processes leave less room for confusion or mistakes. And contrary to popular belief, automation doesn’t remove Accounts Payable employees from the process. It’s simply a way to eliminate steps that consume unnecessarily large amounts of time. With AP automation, you are still in control of coding and approving invoices, and adding them to the general ledger. You and your team will just have greater visibility and insight into the process.
The ROI of Time: AP automation buys you time. You’re able to transform your AP department from an expense to a profit center by pursuing higher-level tasks. Consider what you could achieve if your expert employees were focused on finding and negotiating potential discounts, optimizing your payment schedule, analyzing opportunities, and proactively working with vendors for better results. All of a sudden, your AP department can start generating revenue for your company.
The ROI of a More Capable, Productive Staff: As your company grows and invoice volumes increase, you will be able to keep up without hiring additional employees. Contractors and outsourcing are eliminated from the conversation as well. The team you have now will become more productive – and can help you keep up with long-term growth.
We get it: automating isn’t an instant decision. You need to evaluate (and oftentimes, maintain) your long-standing processes. You can do exactly that with a mappable AP automation program. IntelliChief’s solutions let you keep your current ways of processing, but automate them for increased efficiency.
The toughest part is the initial decision. It’s hard. You have to make yourself do it, but thankfully implementation isn’t difficult. And once your initial ROI projection is achieved, you’re likely to see more anticipation throughout the rest of your company. Soon, they’ll be following your lead and asking what else they can automate.
Corporate accounting has long been driven by standard policies and procedures. But today, forward-thinking companies are updating their processes through automation. Modern advances in AI have made accounting faster and less error-prone – not to mention easier to scale. These advantages are part of the reason why – according to Forbes – a number of routine accounting processes are likely to be AI-based by the year 2020.
Artificial intelligence is already capable of handling several common tasks, such as manual data entry and invoice classification. But, the more intelligent that technologies become, the larger the projected role of AI in the accounting area.
Artificial intelligence allows technology to process documents the same way that humans do (although these technologies rely on behind-the-scenes configuration rather than natural intelligence). Their algorithms make them perfect for collecting and validating invoices, as well as matching to their corresponding purchase orders and receipts.
In the past, AP automation programs were only capable of reading invoices if they knew exactly where each piece of information was going to be located. This made their application somewhat limited. But, today’s programs have become much more intuitive.
Thanks to machine learning, computers now have the ability to:
As a result, accounting technologies are becoming more effective at validating transactions, matching quantities and prices, and determining which transactional documents require exception handling.
Similarly, robotics in accounts payable can streamline quantity conversions and tax calculations using information that’s already in a database – no need for an employee to figure this all out manually. And, if there’s an invoice that needs to be reviewed by a human, workflow-enabled programs can immediately send that document where it needs to go.
Automated intelligence makes it easier for accountants to manage incoming payments as well.
For instance, if a customer submits a single payment for multiple invoices or sends a check that doesn’t seem to correspond with an existing transaction, AI can search for similarities to help sort out the issue. As a result, accountants can correct problems much more quickly, without having to reach out to the customer for clarification.
Every accounting department has to invest resources into audit preparation, whether they’re paying a third-party or employing an auditor in house. This helps companies demonstrate proper accounting practices and regulatory compliance.
What’s typically a long, drawn-out process (and an expensive one at that) can be almost fully automated. Computer programs can be used to locate sample transactional documents, and in some cases, even deliver those documents right to the auditor. And because AI helps errors from occurring in the first place, reconciling financial records becomes much less of a burden.
In the future, audits themselves may even become fully automated. As AI continues to develop, accountants may be able to rely on computer-driven risk models and the immediate detection of fraudulent behavior patterns. But until the accuracy of those processes becomes much more reliable, human auditors will still be responsible for manual reviews.
For all the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence, there’s also an undercurrent of uncertainty. Corporate accountants – and the companies that employ them – tend to wonder how AI is going to change the workforce.
One thing that most experts agree on: automation is not going to make accountants obsolete. It will, however, have an impact on their day-to-day responsibilities.
With artificial intelligence systems, routine tasks that used to take hours can instead be completed in seconds. Behind-the-scenes preparation (like locating transaction records) can also be automated, allowing accountants to focus on higher-value initiatives.
According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (one of the Big Four audit firms), one of the top reasons that financial service organizations are turning to AI is their ability to help them innovate. With machines handling the “grunt work”, accountants can take on more of a forward-thinking advisory role. By studying trends to help companies make more strategic business decisions, accountants are able to create a new (and more valuable) niche that’s unlikely to be taken over by robotic accounting automation.
To increase the chances of long-term success, companies need to find solutions that are simple enough – but also functional enough – for their employees to adopt right away. (It’s also ideal for companies to ask their employees what features would be most important before selecting a system.)
At IntelliChief, we provide simple, intuitive automation software for routine accounting processes. Our solutions use artificial intelligence to eliminate manual data entry, automatically create and record transactions, and make audit preparation easier than ever. And, our AI tools integrate with the most popular accounting systems, like Oracle and SAP. This makes it simple to improve upon your corporate accounting workflows, without having to completely overhaul your approach.
When performed manually, business process costs are considerable.
While companies realize these costs exist, it’s hard to precisely calculate the number of employee work hours that factor into a process that needs refinement.
For those that do manage to equate hours with dollar amounts, the idea of automating these processes with Workflow Automation starts to look more and more appealing.
Accounts Payable is an area with telling industry averages.
Manual, paper-based AP departments need 14.6 days to process a supplier’s invoice at a cost of $16.91 per invoice.
On the other hand, companies with AP Automation are able to reduce processing time to 2.9 days at a cost of $3.47 per invoice.
Therefore, companies that automate Accounts Payable are processing invoices approximately 80 percent faster and for 80 percent the cost of those that rely on manual, paper-based business processes.
Accounts Payable is a great example, but it’s far from the only area of your business that can benefit from Workflow Automation. Nearly any manual process can be made faster, less expensive, and more resilient to human error with automation.
Deloitte even estimates that Workflow Automation can reduce general business process costs by 30 percent. This takes into account staff and time savings as well as accuracy improvements.
PricewaterhouseCoopers notes that Workflow Automation makes the most sense in companies that perform repetitive processes with high frequency. Thanks to economies of scale, automating each consecutive process becomes faster and cheaper with time.
This particularly resonates with large organizations, where — after a few department-specific implementations — it becomes economically feasible to optimize multiple processes company-wide. By expanding the solution throughout the entire business, companies can increase ROI and provide better customer experiences at every touchpoint.
One major thing to keep in mind when you invest in an automation solution, especially if you’re planning to use it across your entire enterprise, it will need to integrate with all of your legacy IT systems. It’s ideal to automate processes while keeping existing front- and back-office systems in place as this will help you overcome the need for a complex infrastructure transformation. But not all solutions are designed to do so.
To that end, things to consider when choosing a workflow management software solution include:
When you choose the right solution, Workflow Automation can show quick results. For most projects, implementation is done in small steps by converting one process at a time into an automated workflow. It’s important to customize business rules for each department’s functional need, which can take time, but when done correctly, it can absolutely help companies cut costs, become more competitive, and optimize their most commonly performed processes.
If you’re ready to reach a superior level of operational excellence in terms of processing speed, costs and adaptability, contact IntelliChief. We have extensive experience automating workflows across AP, Finance, Order Processing, HR, and other departments. Our Enterprise Content Management software links your systems and streamlines disparate processes. We’d be happy to do the same for you.
You know that Accounts Payable automation cost savings can make a major impact on your business – but do you know just how major?
Let’s talk numbers.
On average, companies with a manual, paper-based AP environment require 14.6 days to process a supplier’s invoice. It cost them $16.91 to do so.
Companies that use AP automation can process an invoice in just 2.9 days — at a mere $3.47 per invoice.
Here are the quantifying elements.
When you eliminate manual invoice processing, there are several things that directly reduce your expenses. It’s often a combination of:
Though hard dollar savings are easier to calculate, don’t ignore the soft dollars. Soft dollar savings help you reduce costs through:
These savings (and competitive advantages) extend to many different activities throughout your organization. Here’s a breakdown:
Here are calculations that can help you quantify the true cost of AP processing:
Task # of People % of Time Salary Total Cost
Opening & Sorting Invoices 1 Person 20% $45,000 $9,000
If it takes 1 person 20% of their time to open and sort incoming invoices mailed, emailed (then printed), and faxed, and they are being paid $45,000 annually, the cost to open and sort is $9,000.
Task # of People % of Time Salary Total Cost
Manually Keying Invoices 2 People 60% $45,000 $54,000
If it takes 2 people 60% of their time to key invoices into ERP and accounting systems, with an annual salary of $45,000 each, the cost to manually enter invoice information is $54,000.
Task # of People % of Time Salary Total Cost
Filing Paper Invoices 1 Person 40% $35,000 $14,000
If it takes 1 person 40% of their time to file paid invoices into the paper filing storage onsite, and their compensation’s $35,000 annually, the cost to manual invoice filing is $14,000.
Add these costs together, and this small Accounts Payable department costs a company $77,000 in a year. And these costs increase rapidly as more transactions are processed (and more resources are utilized)
Other things you should know:
One final takeaway – and perhaps the most important: Accounts Payable automation has the potential to reduce processing costs by as much as 80 percent.
IntelliChief ECM announces the creation and sponsorship of National Accounts Payable Appreciation Day, celebrated the third Tuesday of June (June 19, 2018), to acknowledge the contributions Accounts Payable (AP) professionals make toward their company’s growth by optimizing cash flow, and their utilization of enterprise content management (ECM)-driven AP automation to achieve it.
IntelliChief ECM will set aside this day every year to celebrate AP’s dedication, drive, and accomplishments as financial operations professionals. This special day highlights Accounts Payable professionals’ impact on cash flow management, including their utilization of ECM-powered AP automation enabling internal cost reduction and vendor discount capital achievement.
AP professionals provide peer-driven guidance, assisting one other with strategies to decrease their invoice processing time and cost, increase visibility to payables progress and corresponding cash flow, while bolstering early pay discounts received from agreements with vendors, all through ECM utilization. Transactional documentation is digitally captured and archived in a secure centralized repository. Key data is indexed and integrated into the user’s core ERP/financial applications, verifying each purchase with contracted terms. Completing the cycle, it enables automated workflow for review, notations, and payment approvals, achieving their organization’s cash flow-favorable payables schedule.
Use #NationalAccountsPayableAppreciationDay to post on social media.
If you’re thinking about adopting a paperless accounts payable process, you probably have questions. How much is it going to cost you? What’s is it going to mean for your day-to-day workflows? When will you see a return on your investment?
At IntelliChief, we’ve helped hundreds of companies automate their Accounts Payable workflows. If you’re considering a paperless transition, we can help – and in the meantime, we can tell you exactly what to expect from the process.
Your accounts payable department has a number of responsibilities – but let’s use invoice processing as an example.
When you process an invoice the traditional way, your employees have to manually:
With so many different touch-points – and so many places where documents change hands –this approach is delay-prone and inefficient.
With automation, however, you can significantly speed up the process. IntelliChief’s automated invoice handling process is simple and intuitive. Scan your invoice in, or let IntelliChief automatically import it from your email or fax system. From there, our program:
By handling the most time-consuming aspects of the process, our paperless invoice software frees up your team to deal with other responsibilities, like exception handling and analyzing expense reports.
Automated invoice processing is much faster than traditional invoice processing. (It’s significantly less costly as well).
Even for companies at the top of their industry, it takes upwards of four days to manage a paper invoice. (It can take significantly longer for companies with less efficient processes in place.)
With invoice automation software, however, this number can be instantly reduced. In some cases, invoices can even be processed automatically, without any input from an employee. This is sometimes referred to as “straight-through processing” – and it’s the gold standard for AP efficiency.
In situations where an employee needs to manually check an invoice (e.g., our software detects a duplicate change), IntelliChief puts all the information they need right at their fingertips. They can access purchase orders and receipts with a single click, and IntelliChief clearly highlights the fields that require attention. This makes exception handling a breeze.
Invoice processing is just one of the Accounts Payable workflows that IntelliChief can help with. Our paperless accounting software can also be used for:
Before you go paperless, you’ll want to look at your current Accounts Payable process and figure out where your trouble points are. Is it getting approvals for non-PO invoices? Is it keeping the approvals process moving smoothly when your managers are out of the office? Evaluating your workflows before you make any major changes can help you figure out where to focus your efforts.
Another thing to keep in mind: many companies use automation software in Accounts Receivable, Order Processing, Customer Service, and other departments. If you’re looking to automate more than just Accounts Payable, you’ll need to find an enterprise-level solution that you can easily scale.
In most cases, you can expect it to take about a year to transition to a paperless accounts payable process – but that includes time spent researching vendors, getting quotes, and working the cost into your budget. If you need more time to get everything in order, that’s normal too – it’s crucial to think everything through before making a commitment. But, once you’ve chosen a solution and signed a contract, you’re in the home stretch. It’ll take just a few months to have your software set up, and a few weeks of training to get your employees up to speed.
At IntelliChief, we’ve designed our paperless accounts payable solutions to be as simple as possible. Because they look just like your enterprise resource planning screens, your employees won’t have to get used to an entirely new program. And, our team can schedule on-site training to show you how to make the most of all your new features.
We get it: change is never easy. But when time- and cost-saving measures are eventually implemented, most companies wonder why they waited so long. That’s something we hear from our customers all the time.
If you’re ready to learn more about AP automation, just reach out and let us know. IntelliChief’s document management experts can help you implement a paperless Accounts Payable process that’s customized for your specific business.
Accounting for logistics processes and procedures is complex, and it’s common to still see physical shipping documentation sent by express service to points of receipt, including your Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Customer Service departments – domestically and internationally. The manual handling of these printed documents is admittedly fraught with expense (time and money) and risks.
Having a clear picture of your distribution operations with all involved departments is crucial for your business. Though a challenge to this is managing logistics operations that are driven by paper, restricting the movement of every inbound and outbound shipment. Paper-based processes are slow and create bottlenecks in productivity, making important data contained in physical shipping documents—bills of lading, manifests, delivery receipts—difficult to process and track.
Capabilities have expanded to include automated documentation capture and company-specific processes workflow. This streamlines tasks related to shipping and receiving goods, enhancing the functionality of your existing platforms – ERP, SCM, WMS, Accounting systems and related business applications you use. Distribution is an industry benefiting from enterprise content management (ECM). Discover IntelliChief’s approach here.
How Logistics uses ECM: to automate capture of all formats of shipping documentation in both paper and electronic formats, assembling complete document collections from every source per transaction. Accuracy is validated with vendor and customer information stored in your ERP or SCM, and workflow automated with all departments involved in each transaction. Detailed visibility is provided throughout your distribution channel.
This document management capacity makes information easy to retrieve with automated organization for faster and more efficient content management. You’ll have instant access, with improved colleague and vendor-partner collaboration, and responsiveness to your customers, directly through your ECM-integrated desktop and mobile screens.
Collectively, ECM facilitates a solution to assure accuracy and security throughout distribution, as the foundation for building transactional transparency and trust, while streamlining business processes across your company’s fluid area of operations. Global trade logistics relies on a web of disparate systems across freight forwarders, custom brokers and port authorities, involving ocean, rail and trucking carriers. With ECM, you’re able to digitize the process to collaborate across companies and authorities, reduce the paperwork, streamline cross boarder movements, and limit fraud and errors.
Advantages encompassing how Logistics uses ECM:
These are particularly useful with Distribution’s transactional interaction among colleagues in Accounts Payable, Orders Processing and Customer Service departments; all areas of shipping document’s origination, destination and notification.
To see how, contact us.
You move goods on a very large scale, but cost savings in logistics and product distribution can be hard to come by. Having a clear picture of your distribution operations of those goods is critical for business.
But, think about many of your logistics operations are driven by paper, restricting the movement of every inbound and outbound shipment. Paper-based processes are slow and create bottlenecks in productivity. They make important data contained in shipping documents, including bills of lading, manifests, and delivery receipts, difficult to process and track.
IntelliChief’s capture technology and electronic workflow processes can help you streamline tasks related to shipping and receiving goods. It can also enhance the functionality of your existing systems. Whether you use an ERP, a supply chain management system, warehouse management software, a transport management system, or a combination of several different programs, IntelliChief can easily connect all of your business applications.
The objective: improve visibility and reduce the time it takes to process information by capturing your shipping documents when they enter your business.
Your newly standardized approach lets you manage all your processes from a single platform. Automated capture eliminates your need to print the documents and painstakingly key in the data – saving even more time in the process.
And because this all happens in real-time, you never miss a beat.
The Sales-Fulfillment-Collections connection is the main engine of your company. Ensuring that orders are processed quickly and accurately is a primary objective. As your business grows, you need to be able to process more customer orders without adding personnel.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) lets your customer service, sales, and fulfillment staff:
By seizing potential cost savings in logistics and product distribution, your organization can safeguard its bottom line from the unexpected. Our tailored solutions for freight document management were designed with the enterprise-class distributor in mind. Our ECM platform is uniquely equipped with the tools to help you not only master logistics and distribution today but also in the future. IntelliChief is one of the only ECM solutions designed specifically for the enterprise at scale. Our solutions grow with your business to help it avoid interruptions and benefit from ongoing cost-saving opportunities.
Early payment discounts can help your company save hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars every month.
Spend less on the products you need to buy, and increase your working capital. Take the money that you have sitting in a low-yielding corporate account, waiting to be sent to a supplier, and leverage it to generate a higher rate of return. It’s a valuable strategy for your business – but it can be easier said than done.
It’s common for suppliers to offer regular discounts for early payment. Sometimes, companies that offer early payment discounts are trying to motivate customers to pay faster so they can reduce their DSO. Other times, they’re trying to address cash flow issues. Either way, your company can benefit from the incentive.
2/10 net 30 is a common example. This incentive would allow you to deduct 2 percent of the invoice’s total amount if you pay within 10 days. (If you pay within 30 days, you owe the entire balance. If you pay after that point, you may owe a late fee.)
If you’re offered 2/10 net 30 terms on a $1,000 invoice, you can pay just $980 if you’re able to issue that payment within a week and a half. If your company has the cash on hand (or a readily available line of credit), those terms are firmly in your favor. That 2% early payment discount for paying 20 days early? If you do that just 18 times in a fiscal year, you get an annual return of approximately 36%.
By taking advantage of dynamic discounts, your Accounts Payable department can directly impact your company’s profitability. The only problem? 10 days isn’t a lot of time.
When you get an invoice in the mail, it may be several days before someone finds it. And if you rely on manual invoice processing methods, it can take several more days to move it through your organization. Getting all of the approvals & validations that an invoice needs before it can be paid is painstakingly slow.
When you’re working with a short time frame, a single delay (like a processor being out of town) can prevent you from capturing those valuable discounts. And when you have hundreds of invoices to deal with every month? There’s a pretty high chance that at least a few of them fall through the cracks. That’s why many companies have a hard time processing their invoices quickly enough to qualify for early payment discounts.
A sad reality? Industry research shows that the average invoice processing cycle time is 12.4 days, from receipt till payment. It’s frustrating to miss the mark by just 2.4 days – but it’s also encouraging, as it means a few strategic changes can get you over the hump.
So how can you make your process more efficient?
Invoice automation lets you streamline your accounts payable workflow. You don’t have to manually collect your invoices, and you don’t have to manually confirm that the charges are correct. The technology handles all of the behind the scenes, automating the most time-consuming steps with ease. And if a key employee is out of the office? They can still process documents remotely, keeping your workflows…well…flowing.
At IntelliChief, we’ve helped our customers reduce their payment cycle times by as much as 80 percent. One customer was even able to capture $5.4 million savings in the 2016 fiscal year – just by using our automation software to process their incoming invoices.
Our AP automation software works directly with your enterprise content management system (ECM) to make sure every incoming invoice is correct. It even checks for “process-by” target dates – letting you finally start capitalizing on your early payment discounts, without extra work for your employees. It’s an easy way to start meeting your cash flow objectives – and we’re here whenever you’re ready to get started.
Reducing Accounts Payable processing costs has officially become a movement — one driven figurately by the ability to better allocate staff resources and literally through automating transactional information and workflows. In an increasingly competitive business climate, improving the speed and accuracy of processing has become fundamental in achieving measurable growth. Accounts Payable automation is increasingly sought to securely capture all transaction information, which can then be utilized in any number of ways through system integrations that assure contractual-transactional integrity. New technology is shining a spotlight on the priorities of Finance and Accounting professionals, and the truth is evident: the benefits of reducing your company’s Accounts Payable processing costs are too substantial to ignore.
Moving from manual to automated environments increases transaction productivity and cash flow visibility. In a study of AP Management by The Institute of Financial Operations, cost savings and improved accuracy ranked as top justifications for investing in automated accounts payable solutions.
Their peer findings: 9 in 10 organizations still deal, at least in part, with paper invoices and transaction-related documentation, leading to higher costs, stifled efficiency, and a greater chance of erroneous information entering their system.
Failure to innovate can have a negative effect on the success of your business, especially when your business relies on outdated, paper-based processes to stay on top of money flowing in and out of your organization. By being the first to innovate, your business gains a competitive advantage over its rivals. The statistics below paint a clear picture of where our economy stands in terms of efficient AP processing:
The above statistics are indicative of the current state of the industry, but how well do they describe your particular working environment? If the answer is “nearer than you would like,” your potential automation advantages include:
To learn more about how your business can reduce accounts payable processing costs, read our AP automation guide. Or, learn more about IntelliChief ECM for Accounts Payable for PO and Non-PO invoices by clicking here.
National Payroll Week is a week that every single company can be thankful for. After all, we all want to be paid for our effort and dedication — and who’s more dedicated than a company’s administrative professionals?
The American Payroll Association (APA) founded National Payroll Week in 1996 to celebrate the partnership between America’s employees, the payroll professionals who compensate them, and the important government programs and agencies funded by our payroll system
According to National Payroll Week, “Together through the payroll withholding system, payroll professionals collect, contribute, and report 70% of the U.S. Treasury’s annual revenue.”
That is a massive contribution, one worthy of acknowledgment and celebration. From September 6-10, payroll professionals around the country as well as the APA and its local chapters gather to host an array of community service projects centered around education on the importance of the payroll system. The goal is to answer important questions, including:
Even if you aren’t a sponsor, you can still get in on the celebration. Here’s how IntelliChief plans to celebrate:
At IntelliChief, we’re celebrating National Payroll Week with a steady stream of “thank yous”…not to mention copious amounts of ice cream. We’re so thankful for everything they do – and we know you feel the same way!
But do your payroll employees know how appreciated they are? And more importantly – do they feel like they have the tools they need to properly do their jobs?
If your payroll department is frustrated by manual, time-consuming processes that never seem to end, it may be time to think about automation. How much more efficient could your employees be if they were able to automatically capture and organize their documents, collect approvals, and collaborate with HR and Accounting? More importantly, how much more satisfied would they be with their jobs if they had these capabilities?
IntelliChief makes it easy to get data from your paper documents to your Human Capital Management and Accounting software. This can make the payroll process significantly faster. It also reduces the time and resources that go into these ongoing procedures while providing records tracking and safeguarding.
If you’d like to learn more about consolidating your payroll workflows, contact IntelliChief today. In the meantime, keep celebrating National Payroll Week along with our friends at the American Payroll Association. Thanks, Payroll Pros!
Request a customized demo to see how IntelliChief addresses your organization’s most pressing challenges. Simply provide some preliminary information about your project and our experts will handle the rest.
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