Accounts Payable (AP) automation takes traditional invoice processing tasks like data entry/validation, matching, approval routing, and payment vouchering – typically done manually – and transforms them into an automated workflow. This shift saves time and reduces errors caused by the manual input and comparison of information, which in turn, drives operational efficiency and significant cost savings.
But that’s not all.
A green revolution waits at the other end – eco-friendly practices blending seamlessly into day-to-day business operations thanks to AP automation.
In fact, according to research by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), businesses that adopt paperless processes can cut their usage by up to 60%. That’s a pretty impactful reduction.
How AP Automation Can Help Organizations “Go Green”
Typically, manual AP processes involve a lot of paper – invoices, P.O.’s and receipt documents get printed and stored in paper file folders, checks are written out and mailed in paper envelopes. This not only consumes resources but also contributes to carbon emissions during transport.
By automating these tasks with solutions like IntelliChief, significant changes take place where paper is replaced with electronic documents and processing times are reduced, dramatically improving your company’s bottom line AND brand image as a true leader in global sustainability.
Drastically Reducing – and Sometimes Even Eliminating – Paper Demand
Paper usage and waste are significant issues facing businesses today. In fact, according to The World Counts, about 50% of business waste consists of paper.
The traditional accounts payable process is heavily reliant on paper documents. From invoices and purchase orders to checks, envelopes and payment confirmations, the sheer volume of paperwork is staggering.
This dependency doesn’t just cause cluttered desks, however. It also contributes significantly to deforestation as trees are cut down for paper production.
And that’s where AP automation steps in, by offering a practical solution that significantly reduces – and in some instances, completely eliminates – reliance on paper.
By transitioning from manual processes to automation, companies can drastically reduce their paper demand.
Fewer printed documents means fewer trees being cut down. Not only is this advantageous for woodlands, it also assists in curtailing global warming since trees take in CO2 – a primary heat-trapping gas that leads to the planet’s temperature rising.
Reduced Greenhouse Emissions
The journey from a standing tree in a forest to stacks of letter size paper at your office involves transportation, processing plants, packaging facilities – all adding up significant carbon footprints along every step.
Automating your accounts payable process reduces emissions related not only with paper manufacturing, but also those linked with physical document handling like mailing and storage management activities.
Water Conservation & Energy Conservation
Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, going digital via AP automation saves substantial amounts of water and energy used in pulp mills during paper production processes. Astonishingly enough:
- It takes approximately 10 liters of water to produce one single sheet of A4 paper.
- Producing 500 standard sheets consumes nearly 1,321 gallons of water and 12.5 kWh of electricity. That’s enough to power an average American household for half a day.
Not only do paper documents use up resources, they also create waste when tossed. Ever realize that paper fills about 25% of our landfills? Shifting to AP automation can make a huge difference.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Green Strategy
When it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the emphasis is usually on charity or participating in local activities. But, CSR also extends into operational excellence and environmental responsibility.
Take AP automation as an example. By digitizing accounts payable processes, businesses not only streamline their operations but also contribute positively to environmental conservation efforts – a clear win-win situation.
Operational Excellence and Environmental Responsibility
The transition from paper-based invoicing to electronic invoices significantly reduces waste production and promotes efficient resource use within organizations. This shift towards digital platforms, in turn, supports broader global sustainability goals.
Beyond this, let’s not forget that reduced physical paperwork means less need for storage space – another subtle yet significant contribution towards resource efficiency.
Stakeholder Expectations and Brand Image
In today’s increasingly eco-conscious society, stakeholders expect more than just profits from companies: they want them to be responsible global citizens too.
In fact, according to a recent study by Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study:
“91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit”
They anticipate businesses will operate responsibly while addressing social and environmental issues.
This change in stakeholder expectations directly impacts brand image as well – those that embrace green strategies are likely viewed favorably compared with competitors who don’t prioritize such initiatives.
Futurizing the Business
Paperless AP systems like IntelliChief don’t just cut costs and boost efficiency. They also pave the way for future business growth.
Incorporating eco-friendly practices into company operations can be thought of as a venture in the organization’s future – not only from an ecological viewpoint, but also to stay ahead of changing industry patterns.
At the end of the day, CSR isn’t limited to community service or charity – it’s about ensuring your business operates sustainably too. By embracing AP automation, you’re taking steps towards operational excellence while fulfilling your environmental responsibility.
The Role of Finance Leaders in Orchestrating the Green Shift
Finance leaders are in a unique position to drive the green shift within their organizations. By leveraging AP automation, they can help promote corporate sustainability and environmental responsibility.
To start this process, finance leaders need to conduct a diagnostic review of existing systems and processes. This means evaluating current practices for any inefficiencies or areas that could benefit from greener alternatives. Utilizing a platform like IntelliChief is an effective way to streamline operations while reducing paper waste.
The next step involves creating synergy between technology and business objectives.
By selecting solutions that not only meet organizational needs, but also contribute positively towards the environment. For instance, choosing e-invoicing over traditional invoicing methods reduces carbon footprint significantly by eliminating the need for physical delivery systems.
Transition and Training
Moving on to new technologies may seem daunting at first, which is why it’s critical for finance leaders to manage transitions smoothly and ensure adequate training is provided for all employees involved in the AP process.
Transitioning from manual invoice processing with piles of paperwork cluttering desks onto a sleek digital platform might take some time – but with appropriate guidance and patience – teams will soon appreciate its efficiency and ease-of-use.
And last, but certainly not least, narrative crafting plays an important role here too. After all changes have been implemented successfully, communicating them effectively inside (and outside) your organization becomes crucial as well because it reinforces commitment towards sustainability goals while strengthening brand image simultaneously.
Consider this: wouldn’t you feel more inclined to work with or for a company that takes environmental responsibility seriously?
Of course, you would.
Therefore, crafting an engaging narrative around the green shift and sharing it across various channels (think: internal newsletters, social media platforms, press releases) is another task finance leaders should undertake in their quest towards corporate sustainability.
Challenges To Keep in Mind (and How to Overcome Them)
The road to AP automation is not without its speed bumps. Two common challenges are software compatibility and employee resistance, but with the right strategies in place, these can be navigated effectively.
Moving from a legacy system to AP automation raises valid questions about compatibility. But don’t let this fear halt your green initiative. There’s a solution: AP Automation / ERP integration.
By working with AP Automation solutions providers that provide direct connection to your ERP system, you gain the benefit of leveraging your investment in your ERP by eliminating the time-consuming process of automatically doing 3-way matching and vouchering invoices for payment in your ERP. This ERP integration allows for easier adoption by employees, eliminating errors – like duplicate payments – in the process.
To ensure a smooth transition, make sure you choose an AP automation system that offers robust ERP integration support and not just a one-way API. This way, you won’t need major changes in your existing system – just plug-and-play results that save you money.
No matter how tech-savvy we get as a society, change can still trigger discomfort or even resistance among employees used to traditional methods of working. The key here is proper training and communication.
- Tailored Training – Employees might resist new technology because they fear change and the over-complexity of the new system. AP automation systems often offer tailor-made training sessions that can help bridge this knowledge gap by breaking down complex processes into simpler, ERP-familiar steps and giving hands-on experience before actual implementation begins.
- Open Communication – Fear of redundancy often stems from a lack of information about what the change means for individual roles within the organization. Transparency in communication can dispel these fears. Explain how AP automation will free AP processors from mundane tasks and let them focus on more strategic tasks, enhancing their value within the organization.
- Sessions – A practical demonstration of AP automation can help employees see first-hand the benefits, including:
- Faster processing times
- Fewer errors
- The easy retrieval of invoices and all related documents for more efficient vendor management
- Elimination of duplicate payments and missed early pay discounts
This makes it easier for everyone to embrace change.
Switching to a greener future using AP Automation might feel overwhelming, but keep in mind that the long-term benefits far exceed the short-term challenges you may face during the transition.
Automating accounts payable isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore. It’s the way forward for sustainable, green business practices.
The potential is massive: reduced paper demand, energy conservation, and less waste.
Your role as a finance leader?
Make sure your team embraces this shift to AP automation. Guide them through training and make clear the bigger picture – not only operational efficiency but also environmental responsibility.
Yes, challenges may pop up along the journey. But with proper preparation and planning, you can navigate smoothly towards an automated future in accounts payable that benefits everyone – your company, its stakeholders…and our planet too!
Interested in exploring ways AP automation can improve your company’s bottom line AND brand image as a true leader in global sustainability?
If so, schedule a no-obligation 30-minute demo today!