In the grand scheme of analogies ‘apples to apples’ is probably not correct when we are talking about Accounts Payable (AP) automation versus manual AP. At the end of the day, automating AP completely restructures your workflow and, hopefully, increases efficiencies and ROI for your company.
If anything, we’re talking about a fruit market that sells multiple fruits and how to best structure the layout and sale of said fruits.
Before we dive into the differences in process between manual and automated AP I want to pause here. If you have been tasked with finding efficiencies or you are proactively looking to up your AP game it is worthwhile to take a step back and see the forest through the trees–I am just full of metaphors today.
Take the opportunity to look at how things are currently structured and how process is operating (not just your own pain points). Should you consider implementing a best practices strategy (if you don’t already have one) or identifying any other potential pitfalls at other points in the process? Lest we forget, AP is the last step in the purchasing process and AP doesn’t work in a vacuum.
For the sake of this blog post we’re going to assume you’ve done all that and identified that AP Automation is something you’d like to explore. Congratulations!
So, first things first, here is how most companies’ AP process might look:
- Manually keying invoice data
- Chasing down signatures
- Printing paper checks
- Collating checks
- Tracking down CFOs
- Stuffing envelopes
- Mailing payments
- Filing away papers
Without AP Automation this process can take weeks of tracking down people for approvals, bottlenecks, a drain on resources, information that may not be inputted correctly into your system and paper, oh the paper!
You can absolutely consider a point solution if you feel that one or two of those eight steps is what is causing your headaches. But the reality is while a portion of the journey may be smoother there just isn’t enough compensation to see an end result we can find satisfying.
Now let’s take a look at what a streamlined, automated process might look like:
- Automated data capture & coding
- Automated routing for approval
- On-the-go approvals
- Payment method flexibility
- Perfectly preserved audit trails
Instead of attempting to adjust the existing process system to create efficiencies; we revamp the entire system, reduce steps, create flexibility, reduce error rates, and digitize documentation.
When the entire process is optimized that’s when you begin to see: optimized cash flow, improved vendor relationships, simplified audits, and a maximized ROI on your AP automation.
Change is never easy
But if we’re going to be more than a transactional touchpoint and increase company-wide value we cannot be fearful of that change. We must embrace it.
If you’d like to learn more about driving efficiency and how that equates to improved operational successes check out our infographic.