Manual invoice processing is a labor-intensive process that requires employing workers to loop through redundant processes such as accepting invoices and paying them off. Today, accounts payable (AP) and purchasing managers have a plethora of resources and new innovations at their disposal to customize their processes for enhanced efficiencies, reduced costs, and quicker cycles. There are incredibly intuitive workflow automation solutions that reduce duplicate payments, support audit efficiency, and strengthen internal controls.
Reduce labor costs
Choosing an automated invoice processing solution inherently cuts costs by reducing these manual operations, improves your bottom line, and subsequently frees up funds to invest in more strategic areas of your company. It also reduces duplication errors or missing information oversights. Further, it can be easily tracked through the entirety of the procure-to-pay process.
With an automated Procure-to-Pay (P2P) system, you can easily track and prevent fraud in accounts payable, starting right from the purchasing stage. A dependable automation technology offers these improved security and audit capabilities, as well as increased visibility and control. This all comes together to meaningfully reduce the chances of fraud ever taking place. Automating this process means you can also easily mitigate fraud in accounts payable from every single stage. A reliable technology solution improves visibility and control, which drastically reduces the chances of fraud occurring due to fraudulent invoicing by suppliers.
The answer to increase your spend visibility and isn’t actually increasing touchpoints for approvals, but in optimizing your approvals altogether. Specifically, implementing purchase approval systems focuses your company’s pre-purchase decision-making on permissions. This functions as an efficient spend control process and can be automated to just be done in a few clicks.
Rachelle Collins, the principal research lead at the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC), believes heavily in the idea of automation as human supplementation in the invoice process. “Organizations [should] focus on automating routine, recurring tasks, and leave the work for humans to what is their comparative advantage, which would be activities like customer service, exceptions, analysis, process improvement, and decision support.”
Reduce duplicate & manual tasks
Automation also contributes to going paperless, which means the days of tracking down information in an endless vortex of cabinets is behind you. This actually keeps costs down and reduces the manual management in your accounts payable processes, all while still keeping maximum compliance and security. There are even mobile applications that allow you to literally tap into your permissions and access analytics from just about anywhere, such as Procurify. Having the mobility to access data is especially helpful when managing multi-locations for resorts and restaurants.
According to APQC’s Open Standards Benchmarking data, 58% of invoices are still manually keyed into financial systems. Duplicate payments are not an invoice processing expense, but they do drive the cost up when it comes to handling payables. Workflow automation easily detects duplication at every stage, making it a worthwhile investment to keep your spending organized and compliant.
Focus on process accountability
When AP workflows rely on manual processes, typically a lack of visibility into both the invoice approval process and the purchase approval process develops and causes problems. Process delays can make you miss deadlines and incur costs. Automatic prompts keep things on track.
“Organizations must consider whether their procurement processes are too complex,” Collins said. “They must also evaluate whether or not employees have received adequate training on procurement procedures.” Having manual steps is one thing, but having too many steps altogether is an unnecessary headache for your team and a recipe for disaster.
“If adequate training has not been provided, or if the processes are not user-friendly, employees will bypass formal procedures to get what they need,” Collins said. “They need to take steps to address these factors so that procurement can provide value to the enterprise beyond the bottom line.
Increase spend visibility at every level
Spend visibility goes beyond tracking spending—it gives both a detailed and holistic picture of how money is moving through the company.
Seeing all the company’s data together, at once, categorized by supplier, buyer, date and category, offers an enormous upside for the entire company. The mistake is made when companies isolate visibility into spend data. These segmented systems are both inconsistent and inefficient.
While you might think there is a risk that departments or separate locations might exceed their budgets and settle for expensive and taxing terms and pricing with suppliers, that is a risk that comes with a lack of spend discipline, not access.