5 benefits of automating accounts payable

April 4, 2018
If you haven’t yet automated your accounts payable process, you’re facing a perfect storm of paper chaos.

If you haven’t yet automated your accounts payable process, you’re facing a perfect storm of paper chaos, invoice errors, wasted resources, and delayed payments.

Automating the accounts payable process not only improves invoice workflow but also benefits your overall business in a myriad of ways.

So just what is accounts payable automation?

It is a way to streamline invoice-processing workflows from invoice receipt and approval routing, to purchase order and receipt matching to the invoice, to review and exception management, to final approval for payment.

Here’s a look at the top five benefits of automating your accounts payable process:

  1. Remove paper: Paper is the bane of every accounts payable professional’s life. It has to be collected, categorized, sorted, scanned, copied, routed, processed, stored, and then retrieved later. Multiply that by thousands and you’ve got a costly, storage-intensive administrative burden that takes people, time, and expensive equipment to manage. Automation cuts out paper and plugs those resource drains fast. In fact, PayStream Advisors has found that the average cost of processing a paper invoice can be as high as $20, versus $4 for paperless invoice processing.
  2. Eliminate manual tasks: Paper processes are touch-heavy; yet, even when you digitize the data, there are manual tasks slowing things down. For example, how many manual steps does it take to get invoice data into your financial system, ready for processing? And how many opportunities for error are there? AP automation software enables you to remove the need to touch and process all invoices.
  3. Increase speed and eliminate bottlenecks: When you automate the friction out of processes, you see the immediate improvement where problems typically occur further downstream in the workflow. You also get things like analytics transparency, better cash flow management, and better payment discount capture.
  4. Access instantly: When your invoices are spread across multiple locations in different departments, you don’t have a clear view of your payment liabilities. The best accounts payable automation solutions receive and index invoice data digitally and make better cash flow forecasts, so you have instant access to the information you need in one central location.
  5. Allows benchmarking: You can’t have meaningful improvement without measurement. So take ‘before’ and ‘after’ snapshots of your performance and track the effects of automation on metrics like first-pass rate and number of exceptions and errors, as well as bigger trends like the percentage of paper invoices compared with electronic. Then you can report effectively to management, show tangible returns on investment, and replicate successes.

Businesses expect more from their accounts payable department and it’s a department that can deliver value if you take the necessary steps to automate it.

About the Author

Matt Clark | Chief Operating Officer

Matt Clark is the Chief Operating Officer for Corcentric, a procurement and finance company that helps companies reduce expenses and improve working capital by optimizing how they purchase, pay, and get paid. He is responsible for setting and steering Corcentric’s strategic vision, which has experienced record growth since its founding. Matt has been with the company since 2004.

Matt is an adviser and guest lecturer for the University of Maryland’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, and is an active member of Vistage Chief Executive Group, which provides peer-to-peer mentoring for DC area business leaders. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland.

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