4 Ways AP Automation Helps Drive Business Growth in Turbulent Times

Monday, August 9, 2021

After spending the past 18 months in a defensive position, businesses of all sizes are ready to grow. Next to ensuring the health and welfare of their employees, increasing revenue growth and profitability is the top priority of CFOs and other senior finance executives, studies show. This trend is likely to pick up steam as global economies continue to reopen. Accounts payable automation helps businesses grow.  Every phase of the accounts payable cycle can be automated, in one holistic digital platform.  Automation makes it painless for accounts payable departments to process invoices submitted by suppliers by streamlining everything from:

  • Invoice receipt
  • Data extraction and validation
  • Two-way and three-way matching
  • Invoice approval routing
  • Resolution of invoice exceptions
  • Posting to an ERP or accounting system
  • Reporting and analytics

Most accounts payable leaders recognize the operational benefits of automation.  Lower invoice processing costs.  Faster cycle times.  Fewer errors.  Better transparency into where things stand. But automating invoice processing also has big implications on the growth of a business. The growth-generating benefits of AP automation There are four ways that accounts payable automation helps drive corporate growth:

  1. Reduced workload. Every business wants to do more with less these days.  Automation can reduce accounts payable team’s workload by 80 percent or more.  With an automated payables solution, invoices are aggregated onto a single platform, documents are classified, invoice header and line-item data are automatically extracted, validated, and matched against information residing in an ERP, unmatched invoices and invoices that require review are digitally routed based on pre-defined rules, and approved invoices are uploaded to an ERP or accounting system, touch-free.  The money that businesses save by automating their invoice processing is money that they can reinvest in activities that can help drive corporate growth.
  2. Enhanced financial controls. Tightly managing cash flow and corporate spending means more in tough economic times.  Accounts payable automation instantly puts smart insights into invoice data at the fingertips of decision-makers, whether they are in the office, working remotely, or on-the-go.  Graphical dashboards, drill-down capabilities, data exports, mobile access to historical information, and ad hoc reporting provides real-time visibility that spreadsheets cannot match.  Decision-makers can see trends, spot potential issues, and model scenarios. When tightly integrated with an ERP, an accounts payable automation solution also provides users with 360-degree visibility into supplier relationships and transaction data.
  3. Stronger supplier relationships. Suppliers play a big role in a company’s success.  But inefficient and error-prone invoice processing can test supplier relationships and potentially result in supply chain disruption.  Accounts payable automation helps make a company one that suppliers will want to do business with.  Highly automated businesses pay more invoices accurately and on time.  Suppliers have 24/7/365 visibility into the status of invoices and payments as well as historical payment information.  And automation makes it easier for buyers to offer early payment discounts to cash-strapped suppliers.  All this helps a business attract and retain strategic suppliers while providing greater leverage with suppliers during contract negotiations, which can mean concessions on pricing and service level agreements.
  4. Greater scalability. Processing supplier invoices more efficiently enables businesses to scale fast without the need to hire and vet additional staff as invoice volumes grow.

All this is music to the C-Suite’s ears. These are some of the reasons that 71 percent of accounts payable departments plan to automate further, the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) reports.  In fact, 44 percent of accounts payable departments that are “largely automated” have plans to deploy more technology, per IOFM. If growth is on the minds of your C-Suite, accounts payable automation should be on your agenda.

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