How much time does your accounts payable (AP) team waste manually handling invoices? If your department is like most others, the answer is, “a lot.” Most AP departments manually handle most of the invoices they receive from suppliers. That’s according to the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM). Incredibly, it’s not uncommon for AP departments to manually handle invoices that arrive electronically as PDF email attachments.
All the time that AP pros spend keying invoice data, pushing around paper and emails, chasing down information, and fixing errors is time that they cannot spend on fulfilling, higher-value activities such as analyzing invoice data for opportunities to capture more early payment discounts, collaborating with stakeholders such as procurement, and building relationships with strategic suppliers.
With APQC estimating that almost two-thirds of the median AP department budget is wrapped up in labor, it’s clear that manually processing invoices is holding AP teams and their employers back. In today’s on-demand, digital economy, there’s no reason for invoice approvals to be so slow.
Why Automate Invoice Approvals
Dynamic workflow automation can help AP departments escape the manual processing trap.
In the typical AP department, invoices are received via the mail or email, routed for approval via inter-office mail or email, and re-keyed or manually uploaded into the company’s accounting system.
In this type of environment, there is no way to enforce separation of duties, ensure chain of custody, check on the status of invoices, escalate invoices that have languished on someone’s desk or in their email box, track actions taken on an invoice, or easily access processed invoices and related data.
Manual invoice processing also makes it difficult to measure staff productivity.
That’s why more AP departments are deploying technology to digitize and accelerate their invoice approvals. Dynamic workflow automation aggregates all invoices onto a single platform, routes unmatched invoices or invoices requiring approval based on pre-defined business rules, notifies purchasers of invoices awaiting approval, alerts purchasers when an invoice is approaching its due date, escalates invoices that have not been acted upon, facilitates online collaboration between stakeholders to resolve invoice exceptions, posts approved invoices to an accounting system, and centralizes the archival of invoices for fast 24/7 accessibility by authorized users worldwide.
By digitizing invoice approvals with dynamic workflow automation, AP departments eliminate the friction that can delay invoice processing and result in late payments, missed early payment discount opportunities, more supplier inquiries, supply chain disruption, and difficulty forecasting cash.
Cloud-based workflow automation solutions can be configured and deployed fast, with no disruption to existing processes and procedures, and with minimal IT resources required. AP staff can even be trained while they work remotely, making it possible to achieve a fast payback.
As a result of workflow automation, businesses of all sizes can become more efficient and agile. For instance, AP departments can quickly adapt their workflows as their business requirements change. Invoice approval workflows can be tailored for new suppliers, business units, or global subsidiaries.
AP departments also gain greater control over their operations through user and role-based permissions, real-time visibility into invoice approvals and automatic logging of all actions taken on an invoice. There’s no need to worry about invoices being misrouted to the wrong individual or bad actors getting access to archived invoices. And AP managers can see all actions taken on an invoice.
Accelerate Your Invoice Approvals with Automation
Global commerce moves faster these days. Businesses cannot afford to be held back by manual and semi-automated invoice approvals.
With dynamic workflow automation, they don’t have to be. Workflow automation provides the speed, flexibility and control those businesses need to get ahead in today’s commerce environment.
To learn more about AP Automation, visit Elire’s Managed Services page and download Elire’s informational one sheet.
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