According to a recent Pymnts research, almost 4 out of every 5 finance leaders in the U.S. and U.K. believe their firms’ accounts payable (AP) operations can’t sustain continued growth, with many of them blaming inefficiencies from the use of manual processes, which they say are also leading to fraud and risk exposure.
The survey of 500 finance leaders found that 43% of end-to-end AP functions, including invoicing and payments, are manual or paper based. This leads the average finance team to take up to an hour to process a single supplier invoice, 11 days to close monthly accounts, and 13 days to close quarterly accounts, the survey said.
To overcome these challenges finance leaders, invest in technology – but that is not enough. Without knowing how to vet technology vendors, it is easy to lose money and unintentionally disrupt workflows with a clunky and inefficient system. Don’t mistake legacy technologies like OCR for cutting edge. Evaluate your digital investment to ensure the tool will drive business value and enable scalability.
Focus on Intelligence, Not Technology Management
Finance teams can do more to push their companies forward if only time-consuming manual tasks weren’t getting in the way. Surprisingly, manual tasks now include data entry and babysitting legacy technologies. When evaluating Intelligent Automation solutions, finance leaders must work with technology provider to understand how long your team would have to spend on setup, training, and any tech management tasks that are usually not part of their job. Moreover, identify a solution that will help manage high-volume variable cost invoices at scale and offer intelligence that will help the finance team make better decisions.
Define Success for Your Team and Stakeholders
Success for finance teams is tied to hard numbers like — invoices processed per month, cost per invoice, outstanding payments, turnover ratio, etc. Unquantifiable metrics like employee satisfaction, staff turnover are key factors in defining success. No one wants to be stuck in mundane data entry tasks. With the right technology, you get the opportunity to nurture talent and promote internally for higher-value activities.
Identify a Solution That will Automate Downstream Finance Functions, Not Just Data Entry
Ensure that invoice reconciliation and approvals are truly automated. Finance teams are looking for ways to minimize time spent on tedious tasks like invoice auditing and approval. The wrong technology could mean your AP team is spending more time correcting issues and discrepancies. The right automation solution will minimize human involvement in invoice discrepancies and streamline your team’s document processing.
Invest in Preventative Technology
Above anything else, finance automation should always be preventative. Ensure the solution can demonstrate how their technology eliminates invoice discrepancies and verifies contractual compliance before payment. Preventing overpayment in real-time will save your team from expensive and exhaustive disputes.
A Data-Driven Solution for a Data-Driven Approach
These quantified benefits to transforming the accounts payable process are about more than just data entry into different financial systems or paying supplier invoices on time. CFOs and AP leaders can leverage intelligent automation to reduce costs, save time, reduce fraud, and gain better visibility into their payments. As the cornerstone of their cash flow operations, the AP data gathered from their automation solution can be used to forecast revenue better and make more informed decisions.
Itemize streamlines AP workflows through compliant intelligent automation and integrates seamlessly into all major ERP systems. Request a demo with us today to learn more about how we help organizations reduce costs, save time, and maintain compliance with data-driven AP automation.