When it comes to streamlining and eliminating inefficiencies related to the payment of goods to vendors or the receipt of payment from customers, both processes suffer from the same kinds of obstacles and bottlenecks. The good news for companies deciding to reject manual processes for accounts payable and accounts receivable, is that today’s intelligent process automation solutions can be applied cost effectively, with tangible results for either process.
Intelligent process automation platforms are capable of tackling manual document handling, data entry and approval routing in a way that eliminates the technical overhead traditionally associated with less intelligent, rules — based systems. Because an IPA platform can address these obstacles for AP, AR and other processes, the ROI for just one use case easily sets the stage for automating and improving others — with even lower requirements of time and effort to get started.
In this way, the technological barriers in terms of data and process visibility that have siloed AP and AR processes are beginning to dissolve. The result is an opportunity for greater internal collaboration among finance stakeholders and process owners, as well as better communication and collaboration among suppliers and their customers.
Connecting buyers to vendors allows those purchasers to reap discounts in exchange for early payment, further lowering costs. In exchange, vendors can achieve better visibility to pending payments and optimize their own cash flow. But beyond these process-oriented cost savings and visibility to key KPIs, deeper buyer-supplier relationships represent the real power of AP/AR automation.
While the potential is there, solutions implemented in the real world still haven’t quite entered the mainstream. According to a recent report from 3M, 70 percent of suppliers indicted that more than half of customers lacked a system to support collaboration and communication with them. As the 3M report suggests, that gap in process visibility and operational coordination wastes millions both in terms of process efficiency and lost opportunities for collaboration.
If your company hasn’t invested in ANY Intelligent Process Automation for your financial operations, the question might be what to tackle first — AP, AR or both. Artsyl customers, working with our partners and our solution experts, often start by looking where there is the most process pain, and the source of the quickest “win.”
In some cases, that may mean tackling vendor invoices, because the process has failed to scale and the company is suffering from errors and exceptions, and from late payment penalties.
In other cases, customer sales orders are flowing through a flawed process and the company is failing to capture valuable data about buyer behaviors and sales trends.
While it IS possible to tackle BOTH problems at once, it’s often more advisable to map out both processes, then pick one to begin the implementation process. Often, lessons learning during implementation may allow for a more efficient deployment for additional processes.
One key, as 3M’s support suggests, is that mapping out and automating these processes should take into account ALL stakeholders, including finance, management and IT, as well as external vendors and suppliers.
By mapping the process out and extending it beyond the walls of your organization, companies can look forward and ensure that their supply chains are well management, with pro-active planning for meeting customer demands in step or ahead of seasonal or event-driven buying cycles.
To learn how you can automate your AP or AR processes in an little as 90 days, with ROI in 180 days, visit the Artsyl resource page and contact your Artsyl representative for a personalized demo.