Making the business case for accounts payable automation

by jcp
Editorial & Advertiser disclosure

By Shannon Kreps, Vice President of product marketing, Medius

Accounts payable (AP) automation is no longer considered a luxury for just large corporations or shared services environments. Automating this process has become essential to compete in today’s increasingly fast-moving business climate.

Establishing a solid business case for the adoption of any transformative technologies is key to a successful automation implementation. There are many reasons why businesses should consider automating their AP processes and these extend beyond time savings or data accuracy.

Today’s AP automation solutions not only enable truly touchless invoice processing, they also provide critical data to increase financial control, spend visibility and cost-saving opportunities for the entire business.

Cloud-based AP automation solutions offer instant access to pertinent data to enable smart financial decisions. For instance, both the AP team and C-Suite can use up-to-date financial data to negotiate better deals with vendors or compare supplier offerings.

Balancing the books also becomes easier with access to the latest numbers, and invoice approvals can be done in minutes rather than days. It also enables time-consuming tasks such as audits or the matching and coding of invoices to be done far more quickly allowing the finance team time to concentrate on nurturing and getting the most out of their vendor relationships.

Many of our customers are reaping the rewards of automating their AP processes to help strengthen supplier relationships, enable faster payment response times and significant process efficiencies. Here we share three of the ways businesses typically benefit from automating this slow and laborious manual process:

  • Process efficiencies

One of our customers handles approximately 54,000 global invoices each year and to streamline the accounts payable process it implemented AP automation software and was able to achieve 93% touchless invoice processing.

It is no secret that many finance teams and AP clerks often feel massively overwhelmed by the number of invoices they receive each day. From managing invoices in a variety of formats through to sourcing missing information, e.g., PO numbers or essential supplier details and chasing for approvals, it’s typically a time-consuming process when done manually. However, by freeing up financial professionals from this relentless chore enables businesses to redeploy their skilled professionals on to more strategic projects which have the potential to deliver more value to the wider business. Automating the process also ensures that data is captured more accurately and approval for payment can take place much more efficiently.

  • Improving supplier relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships with key suppliers is essential to business success and AP automation can help businesses maintain positive relationships with their supply base by significantly reducing the payment times from receipt of an invoice. We recently surveyed the views of 200 finance and procurement professionals and worryingly it revealed that almost three quarters of procurement professionals had experienced issues with disgruntled suppliers, unhappy that their invoices hadn’t been paid on time. AP automation can help optimise invoice payment processes meaning less issues over late payments and better terms with vendors.

  • Approvals on the go

Cloud-based AP automation means that end users can now access the system remotely from wherever they are and approve supplier invoices or purchase orders whenever they need to. This is critical for remote workers and enables approvals in minutes rather than days. This ability to respond quickly, in real time enables finance teams to remain agile and responsive in this fast-moving industry.

The benefits of automation of this manual process are clear and any business looking to put together   a case for a new pilot project, should explore how it can help boost the bottom line for the organisation.

Sound accounts payable and receivable processes are critical to cash flow, positive customer/supplier relationships and internal cost and process efficiencies. Smarter financial decisions will always be a top priority for the C-Suite, and it is the comprehensive insights into financial data enabled by this technology which can help secure the business case for it.

Bio for Shannon Kreps

Shannon is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Medius, a global provider of spend management solutions, including MediusFlow, an automated invoice processing solution. Kreps specialises in product marketing, using her expertise to intimately understand customer needs, influence product development, and to develop irresistible product messaging.


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