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Making the Complex Simple When it Comes to AP

April 04, 2019

Tips to Keep Your Process Automation Projects on Track

If your company is finally ready to join the 21st century and get on board with AP automation, congratulations. As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is right now.”

In many ways, right now might be even better when it comes to automation technology. That’s because the latest systems employ machine learning technology that delivers greater flexibility and allows for far simpler implementations and better longer-term adaptability.

Through the first quarter of 2019, the Artsyl team has been on the road, presenting the collective insights they’ve gained from working with customers to identify and resolve their process bottlenecks, particularly when it comes to automating AP vendor invoices.

Here are some highlights from the presentations the team has given, and the feedback we’ve received from clients.

Identify and Tackle the Biggest Bottlenecks

When it comes to AP vendor invoices, regardless of the number of review and approval steps or the complexity of the workflow, most processes suffer from the same stumbling blocks—handling invoices and they come into the organization and entering data into the right systems to kick off any coding, matching or approval processes.

Today, systems like docAlpha focus on minimizing the effort involved with the most common and most inefficient invoice-related tasks: document handling and data entry.

Studies have shown that even as companies go paperless and digitize their AP processes, complexity can increase due to the large variety of channels by which vendors submit invoices—including email, Web portal upload, mail and yes, even fax.

Software solutions that can automate the ingestion of invoices from any channel, then automatically extract relevant data from the documents in a way that eliminates keystrokes and mouse clicks will deliver immediate time and effort savings, regardless of the downstream workflow.

Go Beyond Time Saved and Look at Insights Gained

Everyone can appreciate the value of spending less behind the keyboard conducting dull, repetitive tasks that don’t add a lot of value. That’s often enough to justify any investment in time and money to automate. That said, looking downstream at how to best take advantage of shorter cycle times and faster access to data will add even more value.

At first blush, shorter AP cycle times may not seem to translate into the value that might be gained by, say, speeding up customer order processing. But when it comes to cash flow, better AP invoice processes can mean better visibility to general ledger accruals, and with it, better cash management. This, in turn, can allow AP to look at whether or not to capitalize on early payment discounts from vendors, versus the benefit of better cash flow.

Look for Adaptable, Out of the Box Solutions

AP invoice automation has been around long enough for there to be mature, stable, complete solutions that don’t require a lot of custom development. The same holds true when it comes to integration with existing ERP or ECM systems. Flexible, easy to implement integrations that won’t break whenever you upgrade your ERP or ECM should be a no brainer.

Let’s face it. Life is too short for custom code and inflexible integrations.

Today’s AP automation solutions should deliver 80% of what’s needed to ingest inbound invoices, sort them, classify them, extract information from them and then code or match them to a PO/quote/receipt. The remaining 20% to be handled should evolve from using the system and allowing the software to learn and adapt based on input from your AP team process owners—NOT from IT or developers trying to map out and hard code the process.

For more information about AP Automation and Intelligent Process Automation, contact your Artsyl Technologies Account Representative.

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