For organizations looking to invest in AP automation, a solid return on investment derived from shorter invoice process cycle times, lower staff overhead and greater scalability is usually enough to justify the time, money and effort.
But the benefits of AP Automation extend beyond AP and beyond finance, potentially providing a template for business process management and continuous improvement that leads to better decision-making and organizational execution.
The best AP automation projects become launch pads for further process automation, efficiency and control throughout the organization.
Here are four key drivers for AP automation that go beyond short terms gains and department-specific improvements:
Digitizing invoice processing saves time and money—however, only 29 percent of organizations take advantage of early payment discounts. Speeding invoice cycle times with automation leads to greater control over the payment process, providing the ability to negotiate early payment discounts with vendors. Offering to pay invoices early in exchange for a discount is an offer many suppliers will take you up on. Ideally, companies can negotiate dynamic discounts, providing a graduated scale of discounts based on when the vendor elects to pay.
This allows companies to optimize cash flow while balancing the benefits of early payments. For companies and their suppliers, the result is a win-win.
From visibility into cash flow to better customer service, instant access to up-to-date information is often seen as ancillary benefit to AP Automation when cost-justifying projects, but ultimately provides greater long term, strategic impact. AP automation that relies on intelligent capture solutions like InvoiceAction from Artsyl Technologies transforms information confined to physical and electronic documents and validates and shares it with your other systems automatically.
This process not only reduces cycle times and reduce human error, it delivers accurate information to the accounting staff the minute they need it. Reports or graphical dashboards of this information can deliver immediate insights into cash flow and other financial KPIs. It can also deliver instant access to related documentation, such as invoices, payment documents and contracts, directly from your ERP or other accounting systems. As a result, the moment a customer or vendor calls, staff has access to everything they need from a single touchpoint.
One obvious benefit of AP automation is the reduction of manual work, allowing your staff to process more documents daily, accelerating exception handling while quickly and effectively manage vendor and customer requests. As manual work is reduced, companies can elevate the skillsets and roles of their employees to bring higher value to the organization. As these solutions continue to automate your processes, even with increases in document volumes, this allows you to reduce hiring needs and keep those needs low over time.
In fact, our experience at Artsyl Technologies has included a large number of clients whose primary driver for AP Automation was the desire to expand operations, either geographically or into new markets. The scalability that came from automating routine tasks like data entry, document filing and approval routing not only allows their staff to handle an increased velocity of vendors and invoices. It also allows those employees to weigh in and contribute to improving processes as business grew.
Often, automating a single, repeatable process like AP invoices becomes a stepping stone to greater automation and innovation throughout the organization. The way to realize the greatest ROI when looking into automation in accounting is to find a solution that can transform not one but many processes within a department or across the organization. From vendor invoice processing, to order processing, billing, and customer payment processing, there are many routine, repeatable processes across accounting that are prime targets for automation.
To find one solution that can transform all of these accounting processes not only takes the burden off of employees to learn different systems but it makes it much easier for IT to maintain these solutions. Less training for employees, less burden on IT but increased efficiency across accounting processes means greater return on your technology investment.
For more information about AP Automation, Digital Transformation and Intelligent Capture Solutions, contact your Artsyl Technologies Account Representative.