In a fast-paced business landscape, who has time for manual data entry or chasing down invoice approvals? Wouldn’t you rather reduce labor costs, minimize errors, and streamline your entire financial process?
If so, AP automation is the solution you might not have realized you needed.
In the ever-evolving landscape of business optimization, Accounts Payable (AP) automation emerges as a transformative force. But it’s not just a technological upgrade: it serves as a catalyst for organizational evolution.
With AP automation, you not only save money, you gain real-time access to financial data, improved reporting and analytics capabilities, and greater insights into cash flow.
Let’s dive into how AP automation could completely transform your accounts payable process.
1. Streamlines Invoice Processing
The first step to modernizing your business’s financial operations is streamlining invoice processing. With AP automation, you can make this process more efficient and accurate.
Benefit: Reduces Time Spent on Manual Data Entry
Automating the Accounts Payable (AP) processes gives businesses the ability to drastically cut down on manual data entry, and subsequently, reduce time-consuming tasks like keying in invoices or matching them with purchase orders.
The result? More free time for your team to focus on strategic tasks.
Besides saving time, reducing manual data entry also leads to fewer errors. This accuracy boosts confidence in financial reporting because let’s face it: even the most detail-oriented person can occasionally slip up when entering lots of numbers.
Benefit: Eliminates the Need for Paper-Based Processes
Shifting away from paper-based processes is another benefit that comes with automating invoice processing. Remember those times when important documents got lost under a pile of papers? Or when they mysteriously disappeared into thin air? Well, those days are over thanks to digitalization.
Going digital also gives a new meaning to the phrase “having everything at hand.” Searching through countless folders becomes obsolete as all documents are just a few clicks away.
Benefit: Results in Faster and More Accurate Invoice Approvals
Invoicing often turns into a bottleneck due to lengthy approval processes. With AP automation, however, you can speed up invoice approvals without sacrificing control over your expenditures.
Automated workflows ensure that invoices get to the right person for approval in no time. This way, you not only avoid late payment fees, but can also take advantage of early-payment discounts.
2. Leads to Cost Savings
Navigating the current business landscape is undeniably challenging, as businesses grapple with the dual pressures of inflation and skyrocketing labor costs. In this sense, a penny saved truly is a penny earned.
Benefit: Reduces Labor Costs
The magic of AP automation is that it cuts down on labor costs. It’s like having a super-efficient, never-tired employee who doesn’t ask for coffee breaks. Instead of your staff spending hours on manual data entry and cross-checking invoices, they can focus on more meaningful and impactful work.
But this isn’t just about saving money – it also boosts morale by freeing employees from tedious work. In fact, recent studies have found that automating accounts payable processes can result in happier employees and lower turnover.
Benefit: Minimizes Errors and Discrepancies
In the world of finance, tiny errors can lead to big problems.
But when you let technology take over repetitive tasks, error rates drop substantially. The Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM) found out that companies using AP automation have reported an 80% reduction in invoice processing errors.
So, get ready to say goodbye to double payments and/or late fees due to lost invoices.
Benefit: Lowers Transaction Processing Costs
Ever wondered how much it costs to process an invoice manually? According to a report published by Levvel Research, the average cost is around $15.
Yes, every time someone in your finance department picks up a paper invoice and enters data into your system, it costs about as much as three lattes at Starbucks. With AP automation, however, this number drops considerably.
3. Offers Enhanced Visibility and Reporting
AP automation gives you the power to see your company’s finances in an instant. Since there’s such a greater level of transparency, there is no more waiting for weekly or monthly reports. You get insights as they happen instead. This allows for quicker decision-making and can help your business stay agile.
Benefit: Improved Reporting and Analytics
The era of manual reporting is over. Automation doesn’t just expedite processes; it also enhances their quality. By reducing human errors that often creep into manual tasks, accuracy improves significantly.
Plus, no more juggling multiple spreadsheets since all relevant information is consolidated for easy analysis, which makes finding patterns and uncovering new trends easier than ever.
Benefit: Greater Insights into Cash Flow
A strong understanding of cash flow is critical for any business’ survival and growth. But tracking this manually can be a headache, especially when dealing with large volumes of transactions.
AP automation provides clear visibility into cash flow by monitoring all outgoing payments systematically so that you can predict future cash needs accurately using historical data.
4. Improves Vendor Relationships
AP automation is a powerful tool for improving vendor relationships since payments are timelier and more consistent. It also enhances communication with vendors and provides you with leverage in negotiations through data insights.
Benefit: Timely and Consistent Payments
Establishing trust and credibility with the vendors you work with starts by ensuring they receive their money when it’s due. Late payments can strain relationships, but AP automation takes the guesswork out of payment schedules. By automating invoice processing, you’re ensuring that every bill gets paid promptly, without fail.
This level of consistency not only boosts your reputation among vendors, but also reduces the risk of late fees or interrupted services due to delayed payments. Plus, according to PayStream Advisors’ research, companies using AP Automation have seen an average reduction in invoice approval times by 60%.
Benefit: Enhanced Communication with Vendors
Beyond just paying bills on time, clear communication is vital for maintaining healthy vendor relationships. AP automation gives companies the ability to manage all their communications from one place – no more lost emails or misfiled paperwork causing confusion or delays.
In addition to organizing correspondence better, these systems can automatically notify vendors when invoices are received and approved, giving them peace of mind about their pending payments while reducing inquiries into your finance department. In fact, a study by Ardent Partners found that automation can reduce the time spent on vendor inquiries by up to 80%.
Benefit: Negotiation Leverage through Data Insights
The third pillar of strong vendor relationships is negotiation. Having clear, accurate data at your fingertips allows you to negotiate better terms with vendors.
AP automation gives you a wealth of data about your spending habits and patterns, which can then be used as leverage during negotiations. For example, if you’re consistently paying invoices early, there might be room for early payment discounts or more favorable terms in future contracts.
5. Integrates with Your ERPs
Integrating AP automation into your existing ERP systems doesn’t have to be a headache. Nor should it be.
Benefit: Seamless Integration with Existing Systems
Solutions like IntelliChief are designed for seamless integration, so there’s no need to worry about revamping your entire IT infrastructure just to automate your AP processes.
This type of integration helps maintain business continuity and reduces disruption in workflows, which makes it easier for employees to adopt .
Benefit: Reduces Data Duplication and Errors
Duplicate entries not only take up valuable storage space, but also lead to costly mistakes such as overpayments. Thanks to automated data validation features, however, these types of problems become obsolete.
The use of intelligent technology minimizes manual data entry, which further decreases the likelihood of human error. This subsequently results in cleaner databases and more accurate financial records.
Benefit: Improves Overall Operational Efficiency
Incorporating an AP solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing ERP system ultimately improves overall operational efficiency.
- Your finance team will spend less time chasing down invoice approvals
- You’ll process payments faster and more accurately
- Other departments will be able to make more informed decisions based on real-time information available that’s readily available
- AP Automation can extend the functionality of ERP as well. Invoices can be associated with ERP records and users can retrieve documents without having to leave the ERP.
6. Accelerates Approval Workflows
The heart of AP automation is a faster, more streamlined approval process. Automated routing for approval processes lets businesses bypass the sluggish pace and inefficiencies often associated with manual workflows.
A significant advantage here is how quickly decisions can be made. With real-time information available, management isn’t delayed by paperwork or forced to sort through piles of invoices to make informed decisions.
Benefit: Automates Routing for Approval Processes
Say goodbye to long email threads asking who has what invoice and when it’ll get approved. AP automation that relies on straight-through processing routes invoices automatically based on predefined rules set by your company. A solution like IntelliChief knows exactly where each invoice needs to go next, which reduces confusion and expedites the entire workflow.
Benefit: Leads to Faster Decision-Making
No more waiting around while vital documents gather dust in someone’s inbox. IntelliChief gives your employees the ability to instantly review all relevant information right from their dashboard, making the entire process easier than ever.
Benefit: Reduces Bottlenecks
With automated workflows doing most of the heavy lifting, slowdowns become a thing of past.
You see less hold-ups because there aren’t as many human variables slowing down the process. So, regardless if John from accounting is on vacation or Jane in purchasing has called in sick, your workflow continues to run smoothly.
Automation also allows for simultaneous approvals, which is a game changer for large companies with multiple approvers. Instead of waiting for one person to approve before moving onto the next, invoices can be approved by all necessary parties at once.
7. Offers Scalability
The key to a future-proof business lies in its ability to scale. With AP automation, your financial operations can effortlessly grow alongside your company.
Benefit: Adapts to Business Growth
When you’re on the fast track of expansion, there’s no time for cumbersome manual processes. That’s where IntelliChief can step in. Our solution adapts as you expand and lets you handle more transactions without missing a beat. We understand that growth doesn’t always mean adding more people—it means making better use of what you have.
Benefit: Can Seamlessly Handle Increased Transaction Volumes
In any growing business, transaction volumes are bound to increase. But so does complexity if not managed right. By embracing AP automation, an increase in invoice volume will no longer be an issue. This way, even when transactions spike during peak periods or due to sudden growth spurts, your team is ready and equipped.
Benefit: Customizable and Flexible in Adding New Features or Modules
No two businesses are alike. So why should their solutions be? At IntelliChief, our AP automation platform offers flexibility at its best by allowing new features or modules tailored just for your needs. From electronic invoicing to workflow routing, choose only what fits into your vision of efficient accounts payable management.
8. Simplifies Training and Onboarding
AP automation, like any other software solution, needs some level of user training. But because the process is heavily reliant on technology, it’s easier to develop standardized training and operating procedures for your employees to follow.
Benefit: Reduces Training Time for Employees
Establishing a solid AP automation process should theoretically translate into reduced training time for your employees in the long run. This isn’t just about getting new hires up to speed, however. It also applies when implementing new modules or functionalities within your existing team.
The bottom line?
No more long hours spent learning complex systems or deciphering jargon-filled manuals.
Benefit: Minimizes Onboarding Anxiety
Technology is only as good as the people behind it. And with IntelliChief’s support services, onboarding becomes a breeze rather than a chore.
Here at IntelliChief, we take pride in our team’s knowledge, compassion, and dedication to ensure that your team is supported through your entire journey.
9. Can Positively Impact the Environment
We recently published an in-depth article about how AP automation can help promote corporate sustainability and environmental responsibility. Here are the higher-level talking points we discussed.
Benefit: Cuts Down on Paper Usage
It’s no secret that the traditional accounts payable process is heavily reliant on paper documents. AP automation provides a practical solution that can significantly decrease – and sometimes entirely eliminate – the dependence on paper.
Benefit: Lowers Carbon Footprint
Did you know that the pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial polluter? In fact, it releases 220 million pounds of toxic pollution into air and water each year.
The fewer papers we use means less energy consumed in production and recycling processes, which directly leads to a lower carbon footprint for your business and a huge win for the environment.
Benefit: Improves Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Moving towards an eco-friendly approach isn’t just good for Mother Earth: it reflects positively on your company’s corporate social responsibility efforts too.
In today’s eco-conscious society, stakeholders demand more than just profits from companies: they want responsible global citizenship. In fact, according to a Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, 91% of global consumers expect companies to operate responsibly by addressing social and environmental issues. This shift in expectations not only impacts brand image, but also favors businesses embracing green strategies over competitors neglecting such initiatives.
A Call to Action: Starting Your Journey with AP Automation
AP automation’s transformative power is a business game-changer. But for many people – perhaps yourself included – starting the AP automation journey may seem like a daunting undertaking.
Thankfully, it is achievable, and probably a lot less painful than you may think. Here’s our 4-step plan for success (from a 30,000 foot view):
- Understand Your Current Process – Document every step involved in invoice receipt through payment completion. This provides insight into what areas need more help than others.
- Determine Key Stakeholders – Identify who needs buy-in before starting implementation – usually top management but also IT personnel since they’ll have heavy involvement throughout the setup phase.
- Select a Software Provider – Look for solutions that offer a robust feature set and integration with your ERP. Bonus points if they also offer enterprise content management alongside AP automation.
- Plan for Training and Transition – Ensure your team is comfortable with the new system, easing fears about job security or change. Remember, this isn’t something meant to replace them, but to help them do their jobs better.
Interested in exploring the myriad of benefits AP automation has in store for your organization? If so, we invite you to spend 30 minutes with us to learn more about what we do here at IntelliChief, as well as how our solution just may be the perfect fit for your company’s needs.