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Automating accounts payable – why it’s good for your finance team and good for your suppliers

Sarah Price


By Sarah Price, Senior Account Manager
Thursday 11th June 2015

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that working for a software provider means that each day our focus is on talking to organisations about the benefits of the software applications in question.

In fact many years ago, that’s exactly what it meant.  Ten, even five years ago, people weren’t as aware of the capabilities of software as they are today.  Let’s face it, most of us use technology at home these days – whether it’s an iPad, or a smart TV, we even use our mobile phones for banking, emails and booking appointments, whilst sitting on the train or out and about during the weekend.

Today organisations are being run by individuals who are tech savvy.  People have experience of one of more software applications, and they know exactly what they need.

But with companies being more aware of spend and less likely to increase headcount, it seems that many of us still have a tendency to cope with an ever increasing pressure to deliver.

The finance team is no exception. They are faced with providing more reporting and analysis, ensuring more stringent compliance requirements are met all while managing an increasing amount of suppliers.

In fact recently we have seen an upward trend in organisations looking to increase efficiency and cut costs of the Accounts Payable function in a bid to streamline invoice processing, drive down debtor days and free up valuable time for staff. But cost cutting does not have to mean more workload on the team – it’s about automating what can be automated so they can focus on higher priorities.

Imagine….

  • Manual processing is a thing of the past and invoices are imported directly for authorisation (unless it matches the PO exactly, in which case it gets posted for payment).  This means that invoices are posted into the finance system far sooner than they typically do with manual invoice processing and also eliminates potential errors from re-keying.
  • You offer your suppliers self-service enquiry capabilities so that they can track their invoices status.  This can significantly reduce the enquiry handling load on the Accounts Payable department. It also gives suppliers piece of mind and the feeling that your organisation is “easy to do business with”. That and the time you save them when they don’t need to chase late payments may well come into play when future purchases or contracts are negotiated.
  • Last but not least, an automated invoice processing system enables all kinds of reporting and analysis that is simply not possible when invoices are handled manually.  And because everything is done sooner, finance managers have much better visibility of cash management and procurement has better information for spend analysis.

By automating the full invoice lifecycle from the time invoices are received to the time they are authorised for payment, there could be an Accounts Payable efficiency increase of 65% and cost reduction of 41% according to our partner PROACTIS.

Not only that but when suppliers have visibility of payment status and are receiving payment on time, increased payment term discounts can be negotiated and strengthened supplier relationships can lead to re-negotiated contracts.

Now that is worth talking about.

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