Accounts Payable automation, the top 10 reasons to automate your processes

Published Friday, November 15, 2013 4:46 PM by Janette Martin, General Manager, Sage

Most organisations can streamline their operations in some way, shape or form – and the AP department is a great place to start this process.

Accounts payable automation is fairly easy to achieve, but the savings can be big. Who wouldn’t want to reduce costs and improve productivity? The software we produce here at V1 also typically enables companies to deliver ROI in just six months.

So here are my top 10 reasons why all businesses should at least consider an automated AP department.

  1. Save money  AP departments are often drowning in paper, resulting in time wasted on filing, retrieving, copying, mailing or looking for documents that have been misplaced or lost. The time taken to find documents coupled with the manual data input can add up to more than half of the cost of invoice processing.
  2. Save time – The average manager spends four weeks a year searching for misfiled, mislabelled or lost documents. Automated systems free up staff to concentrate on core functions rather than manual data inputting.
  3. Faster payment – BACS data suggests there is £36 billion of unpaid invoices floating around the supply chain at any one time in the UK. Automation ensures customers are in receipt of invoices sooner and guarantees a record of when the invoice was received and read by the customer. Electronic delivery also frees-up staff time spent on printing, photocopying and enveloping invoices and statements.
  4. Save space – Each four-drawer filing cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents, and can take up nine square feet of floor space. A well implemented document management system can remove the need for so much paper and release expensive space for something more appropriate.
  5. Approve on the move – Most managers like to keep a check on spending, and big ticket invoices will always need approving whether the manager is at home, at the office or in transit. Sophisticated document management systems can now give managers on the move the opportunity to authorise, reject or query supplier invoices from any web enabled smartphone or tablet.
  6. Disaster recovery – The safe storage of business documents is a vital part of any organisation’s business continuity plan. Document management and archiving should be at the heart of this strategy to ensure key business documents are safe, and also support document retention requirements.
  7. Reduce fraud – Statistics show major increases in employee fraud, with examples ranging from fictitious taxi rides to creative mileage claims. Automated expense management reduces the administration burden around claims and ensures these claims are authentic and can be properly traced and monitored.
  8. Increase visibility – Automation enables closer monitoring of purchasing, enforcing approvals and matching individual invoices and payments to purchase orders so that anomalies can’t slip through the net. Such systems can be policed with a ‘no purchase order, no payment approach’, ensuring that no funds are issued without the requisite electronic paperwork.
  9. Boost job satisfaction – Time-consuming and repetitive tasks such as inputting data can take its toll on staff, sapping morale, reducing productivity and can even result in high staff turnover. Automating can relieve much of the mundane and allow staff to concentrate on value adding work.
  10. Tie in with the green agenda – Document management technology means less paper, which in turn means immediate gain for any firm seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. This stems from the reduction in the need for paper and fewer postal deliveries, the latter being a particularly carbon intensive process.

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