Accounts payable automation, often shortened to AP automation, is a process that uses technology to streamline the payment of invoices. Businesses of all sizes can benefit, but it’s especially advantageous for larger ones with high volumes of invoices, such as those in the manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and hospitality industries. This article explores the main upsides, looks over the risks, and advises on how to proceed.
It helps cut costs and increase efficiency
Every organization has two key goals for increasing revenue: the first is to improve sales and increase the customer base; The second is to reduce costs to maximize profits. Utilising AP automation can certainly assist with the latter.
The average expenditure on invoice processing is about $10 from start to finish; however, by using AP automation, you can decrease that amount to only $2. For one thing, it can help you cut down by as much as 90% on the cost of materials, especially paper. It also allows you to observe your cash flow so that you don’t unintentionally spend too much on something, and opens the door wider to discounts for making payments earlier as it makes the whole process much more efficient.
It minimizes human error
The biggest issue with invoice processing is human error; manual data entry and document processing are repetitive, monotonous jobs, which increases the likelihood that those doing them will make mistakes. Automated systems can scan documents, read their contents, extract key data points, and enter them into a system. Additionally, automated validation rules can be set up to ensure that all invoices are processed correctly and in compliance with policies, thus eliminating the risk of typos or misfiling, reducing duplicate payments, and improving accuracy throughout the entire invoice-to-payment process.
It strengthens customer relations
The above benefits of AP automation come together to help build trust between the business and its customers, as the customers know that their payments will be processed quickly and accurately. What’s more, it allows businesses to provide more detailed information about each transaction, such as when it was sent and received, which can help customers better understand the payment process. It also allows businesses to easily track customer invoices and payments over time, providing them with valuable insights into customer spending habits; those insights can then be used to improve customer service.
It improves security
AP automation can significantly improve the security of your business. First of all, it helps to reduce fraud by providing a secure system for processing payments. In addition to this, you can set up rules and restrictions to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive financial information, and you can track all transactions in real-time, so any suspicious activity can be quickly identified and addressed. AP automation also makes it easier to comply with government regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Are there any risks associated with using AP automation?
Yes, there are certain risks that come with the use of AP automation. For instance, if the system isn’t properly configured or maintained, it can lead to incorrect payments being made or duplicate payments being issued. Similarly, if it isn’t regularly monitored and updated, it can become vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. Furthermore, if it fails to recognize changes in vendor information or payment terms, it could result in late payments and penalties. Finally, it may be prone to errors due to human input mistakes or incorrect coding of rules.
What are the best practices for ensuring successful implementation and use of AP automation?
If you’ve reached this point and feel like AP automation would be ideal for your business, then you need to know how to implement and use it successfully.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of the process and how it works, and to have a well-defined plan for implementation that includes setting up the system, training staff on its use, and testing the system before going live. Besides this, an effective communication strategy must be in place so that all stakeholders are aware of the changes being made and can provide feedback throughout the process. Once implemented, regular monitoring should be done to ensure that all processes are running smoothly and any issues are addressed quickly. And lastly, it’s worthwhile to have a reliable support team available for assistance with any technical issues or questions.