10 Ways to Save Time with End-to-end AP Automation
By Jack Shales
The Accounts Payable process for invoices can prove to be asynchronous and burdensome, requiring phone calls, walks to various locations, and frequent redundant efforts. Implementing a modern end-to-end solution can significantly improve or completely avoid many common pitfalls. Save Time with end-to-end AP Automation.
1. Email Ingestion
Email has become widespread, serving as the primary means for companies to receive invoices and other crucial accounts payable documents from vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors. Nevertheless, some organizations continue to perform manual tasks. Even after obtaining a digital copy, they sometimes print and re-scan emailed documents into a record system. Modern AP automation solutions make it possible to keep electronic file formats during the entire lifecycle using simple forwarding or advanced mass import methods.
2. Document Separation and Classification
Vendors don’t always send neatly separated invoices. They often include multiple pages of additional materials that need manual handling and separate recording. Automated AP solutions can evaluate documents and perform these separations and reclassifications without using up valuable staff time.
Entering invoice data into an accounting system by hand can be laborious, especially when advanced data capture solutions can do it quickly. Accounts payable departments can skip manual document indexing. Automated OCR capture efficiently handles this task, freeing your team for higher-value work.
4. Duplicate Check
After automatically capturing, separating, and indexing invoices, there’s more to do. Receiving an invoice in your inbox doesn’t mean it’s necessarily new; it could be a reminder or an error from the vendor. Regardless of how a duplicate invoice entered the workflow, modern AP solutions can automatically verify whether it’s been processed and check both items in transit and those committed to the ERP.
5. Vendor Identification
Automated vendor identification and validation can remind you to add a new vendor to your address book or detect fraud before it’s costly. Modern AP solutions, through workflow automation, can directly inform AP personnel if the listed vendor on the invoice is legitimate.
6. Data Validation
Following the checks for duplicates and vendor verification, modern AP solutions can validate other mission-critical data as required. This may involve PO numbers, job numbers, subcontractor numbers, or any other information that vendors include on invoices, which you want to cross-reference with your record system. Often, these checks can save a considerable amount of manual analysis.
7. Integrated Lookups
Despite automatic indexing, there will inevitably be instances where human intervention is necessary. This is especially common for GL coding, cost coding, and other line item distribution fields, as well as hold codes and more. Modern AP solutions can integrate data directly from your ERP into the workflow, making the selection of the correct GL code as simple as clicking a dropdown or entering a few characters and pressing a key.
8. Purchase Order Matching
Modern AP systems can automatically perform checks, whether it’s a two-way match or a three-way match against receipts, and can be configured to align with your specific business rules. Whether you allow a 5% overrun on your PO lines or require the system to halt an invoice for even a cent over the committed amount, these systems adapt to your business rules.
9. Approval Routing
With the wealth of data that has been captured and validated, when the invoice reaches the approval stage, there is more than enough information to automatically route it to the appropriate approver based on the PO, job, role, dollar amount, or any other criterion you can think of. Managing these approval hierarchies can be accomplished through user-friendly point-and-click interfaces, eliminating the need to involve IT.
After approvals, the invoices are uploaded into your accounting system, and it’s common to assume that time savings end there. However, it doesn’t have to be the case. If check runs consume a significant portion of your time or you wish to transition away from the task of personally enrolling vendors in ACH, considerable savings, and even profits, can be realized by utilizing payments as a service.