AP Automation in the Era of Supply Chain Disruption and Labor Shortages

The past two years have fundamentally changed the way businesses are structured – and we aren’t just talking about working from home. The clear logistical challenges and supply chain woes have highlighted organizational gaps across industries. Asynchronous lockdowns and shipping delays continue to take their toll on the market. Accounting has been one of the most affected departments.

Accounts payable teams have had to deal with the strain of supporting supplier relationships through difficult times.

One of the best ways AP professionals have sought to reduce the impact of the pandemic and supply chain disruption is to implement accounts payable automation software. With only 41% of businesses using some kind of automation solution in 2019, the need to shift to a remote and automated workflow in 2020 was dire.

But automation is more than digitizing manual processes with an ERP. Automated invoice processing, especially for industries like manufacturing, can shave hours and days off AP workloads. Furthermore then can speed up transactions and provide complete visibility, thus reducing the chances of human error, duplicate payments, and other issues.

Why AP Automation Is Critical Today

One of the primary causes for the complete shut down of the supply chain was not COVID, necessarily. Low visibility, combined with manual processing, made it impossible to track shipments, process purchase orders, and receive goods in a timely manner. The lack of transparency drove shortages and confusion as regional and global markets struggled to recover from various lockdowns.

Yet incoming invoices were the one constant, as every company attempted to maintain a firm grasp on their cash.

At the same time, companies have been suffering a massive labor shortage worldwide. The lack of skilled workers has added additional pressures on current staff and prevents companies from pursuing potentially lucrative opportunities.

In 2020, 49% of invoice formats and 43% of payment formats continued to be manual for B2B companies. Even if these companies have partially digitized and use an ERP like NetSuite or Sage, finance professionals are still spending their valuable time on data entry without an AP automation software or integration.

AP automation is one solution that can greatly reduce time, costs, and pressure from organizations looking to both correct their cash flow and workflows.

According to Ardent’s 2020 report on the State of ePayables, a best-in-class AP automation solution can reduce invoice processing costs by 80% and make invoice processing 74% faster. Furthermore, an AP automation solution users are more likely to capture an early payment discount and leverage electronic payments.

Not only does the use of accounts payable automation software reduce late payments, but it supports your supplier relationship by providing documentation, timely responses, and options for payment. In addition, intelligent automation solutions can capture invoice data from any format from the supplier’s invoice. Your supplier doesn’t have to change their system, but they can benefit from your accelerated approval process.

A high-quality AP automation solution is a win-win.

Ready for the Remote World

But it’s not just about to cost savings and reducing manual processing. The world of work has changed, and remote work is here to stay, and it’s essential that highly-digital teams, like the accounts payable department, be able to process invoices from anywhere.

Accounts payable automation software will allow AP teams to continue with their approval workflow no matter where they are located.

At the same time, since manual tasks like data entry and invoice matching are largely eliminated, accounts payable teams have more time to allocate to high-value tasks. There’s no need for them to cut and sign a paper check or review stacks of vendor invoices. Instead, they can focus on enhanced analytics reports and improve the company’s financial strategy. After all, the accounts payable process is about more than invoice approval – it’s about expense management and building long-term supplier relationships.

Revolutionize Your AP Process

Yesterday was the best time for companies to adopt an AP automation process, and the next best time is today. From ensuring global compliance to invoice capture and end-to-end workflow automation, technology has made it easier for AP teams to ensure no disruption on their end. All while saving time and money.

Schedule a demo with us today to learn more about how intelligent automation can accelerate your AP process.  

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