Deploying Invoice Automation in Your Office

Deploying Invoice Automation in Your Office

It’s that time of the year when companies will be revisiting their annual budgetary allocations for various projects and growth initiatives for the coming new year. Given the increasing focus on the need to go digital in order to survive and thrive in a competitive market landscape, businesses are doing all they can to implement innovative solutions in their workplace. And accounts payable automation has been one of the primary technology adoptions for many growing and mid-sized businesses. But deciding on a software is not an easy task. Knowing what automation solution will best meet all your AP needs is important, if you are to realize the full value of your investments. If setting aside an IT budget is one thing, preparing your AP department for new technology adoption is a whole different ball game. Many companies do not factor in the potential pitfalls of not having a definite strategy for technology adoption. More than the convenience of doing business, technology must fit into the long-term growth strategies of a company. That means knowing whether a software implementation will be adaptable to meet the changing requirements of a company in the long-run.

Adaptability is a big part of new software deployments, as it will determine if the software is capable of fitting into existing IT infrastructure, as well as capable of being moulded further to meet new business requirements and integrations with other applications. In the case of AP, apart from the jobs that can be automated, it is important to consider the application of the software in changing business scenarios. For example, when adding a new supplier to a company’s database, there must be flexibility to configure the software to accommodate new supplier documentation including the invoices that the supplier sends the company. Rather than create a new capture and process automation template for every new invoice document from a new supplier, the software must have the capability to accommodate different invoice formats without much coding.

There are many such considerations that companies must take into account before deciding on the right accounts payable automation software.
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  1. Chart out the existing invoice processing trajectory in your company before deciding on a new software. Knowing the typical invoice processing steps that your AP staff usually undertake will help you decide which jobs are most in need of automation. Tasks like data entry, data validation, and approval routing can be cumbersome and time-consuming, and companies will benefit from automating these steps. Outlining the major and minor invoice processing steps beforehand will help you choose an accounts payable automation solution with the specific features that meet your automation goals and AP improvement efforts.
  2. Make sure to know if the new invoice automation software is equipped to process a wide variety of document formats, especially if your company is dealing with a wide database of suppliers. Many invoice documents have a similar format and structure, requiring you to configure the software with standard capture definitions. But if your company is dealing with a changing supplier base, where documents come in many different formats, it is important that your accounts payable automation software is capable of “learning” new document types on-the-go rather than creating a capture definition for every new document, which is impractical and costly. A software embedded with intelligent automation is the answer, in this case.
  3. Consider whether you’ll get a good return on your AP automation investment. There are certain metrics like the number of invoices a software can process in a given time frame, the percentage of data extraction errors, percentage of first-time match, etc. that help decide on the right solution as per your business requirements and the AP workload in your company. For growing businesses, it is also important to consider if the accounts payable automation software is scalable and flexible to accommodate changing requirements. That means knowing if you can buy additional processing power including the page count, full page OCR, zonal OCR, extraction of line-item and header-footer details, data extraction based on ‘self-learning’, use of multiple OCR engines for content capture, automatic GL coding, etc.
  4. It is important to know if your new AP automation software will fit seamlessly into the existing IT infrastructure. That means knowing if there is scope for the software to be integrated with business applications in your office like NetSuite Cloud ERP or SAP Business One. The purpose of streamlining your document-intensive processes with an intelligent automation solution like invoice automation software is to lower the dependence on manpower for mundane, repetitive work. Integrating it with an end business application like an accounting software or ERP system will help create an end-to-end intelligent document processing chain, enabling automatic data validation against ERP system records, and also removing the need for manual re-entry of processed data into the business application for record keeping. AP automation software with tight API-level integration to ERPs, as well as capability for automatic ERP transaction creation will lower the labor and document processing costs dramatically.
  5. Affordability and software durability must also be considered when investing in AP automation. Do you have an established IT staff in place to handle software upgrades, maintenance, and integrations? SaaS applications and cloud AP automation solutions are proving to be more promising alternatives to on-premise software. With cloud accounts payable automation software, your total cost of ownership is significantly lowered and a flexible licensing model gives you the room to invest or cut-down on computing resources, depending on your budget and the job at hand.

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