Today in the U.S. new innovations in intelligent process automation are set to disrupt the $22 trillion B2B payments market. The potential to automate document handling, data entry and transaction processing in a way that is flexible and intelligent enough to function without tons of IT or development overhead is making it more and more difficult for companies to bear the costs and risks of analog, manual processes.
Surprisingly, however, manual processes and analog system approaches are still in the majority. More than a third (36%) or U.S. companies still rely on and manage paper invoices manually. Nearly half (47%) rely on manual process workflows for coding and approval. And, nearly half again (49%) still submit payments using an old fashioned paper check.
That’s all set to change, a companies are poised to take a leap forward from horse-and-buggy era technology and processes to the latest the information age has to offer, in the form of intelligent process automation, machine learning, low code software techniques and flexible integration as a service offerings.
The fact that industry surveys real that 44% of businesses are looking to add automation to their payables processes tells us that the gap is closing and more companies will look to streamline and innovate by targeting high-volume, high-cost processes whose costs were once just seen as the cost of doing business.
By automating process like accounts payable, companies stand to achieve a fast ROI by leveraging intelligent process automation platforms than can lower processing costs by 81% and accelerate cycle times by 71%.
In the analog, manual process world, process cycle times for AP are generally measured in months, with invoice processing times often spanning 30 to 90 days. That can be reduced to less than a week using an automated approach—whether vendors continue to function the old fashioned way and submit paper invoices, or they too have gone digital.
Those cycle times are slashed by allowing companies to batch scan their paper invoices without having to sort through and categorize them up front. Intelligent process automation solutions have come a long way in terms of making it easier for their AP teams to digitize everything quickly in a way that doesn’t require them to scan them by vendor or even by document type. The system can usually handle 80% of what’s fed to them out of the box. And rather than having to manually configure new definitions for every document, the systems can learn on the fly by taking input from process owners ONCE and applying it to the rest of the documents they encounter. This machine learning approach is one of the things that makes new AP automation tools “intelligent,” compared to purely rules-based workflow systems that were far more IT/developer-dependent.
Document handling is just half the equation, of course. Once an IPA invoice automation system has digitized and identified a document as an invoice, is can find and validate all the related transaction information, including vendor record details, line item amounts, PO #s, invoice #s, etc. And it can validate ALL of this information by integrating with ERP system records in a way that is flexible and easy to maintain, too.
Automating those critical steps is what shortens cycle times—as well as the pro-active elimination of errors and flagging of exceptions, with dramatically inflates invoice processing costs AND puts the company at risk when it comes to vendor relations and compliance.
As industry studies and statistics show us, companies are beginning to take note. In this decade, we are likely to see the equation flipped, with a majority of companies relying on intelligent automation solutions and the laggards becoming a swiftly-shrinking minority.
Not only are the business cases compelling in terms of ROI—but the experience for companies to embark on this journey has vastly improve. And it may be that the cultural hurdle to challenging the status quo has finally been overcome—and it’s now HARDER to hold onto the past than to embrace the future.
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.