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Don’t Wait to Automate! Top 2019 Business Initiatives Include AP Automation

AP automation has become one of the imperative business initiatives for companies looking to remain competitive in modern markets. To prevent inflicting long-term harm to your organization’s overall efficiency, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Nearly every organization has a digital transformation agenda, and AP automation takes center stage as a facet of most of those plans. However, research shows that progress towards the end goal of digital transformation varies from company to company.

It can be overwhelming to sort through the various ways of digitizing, automating, and streamlining multiple parts of the company. Accounts payable shines through as one of the most impactful areas to focus on first, with a low threshold of investment and effort to get up and running with automation. Research supports this; the Financial Accounting Software market is expected to grow worth of +$11.8B and at a +9% CAGR between 2019-2025. So why hasn’t every organization made automating their invoice processing one of their primary business initiatives? And who can afford not to invest in AP automation now?

Where to Start with Accounts Payable Automation

It’s easy to get sidetracked in the early stages of an AP automation project. The marketplace for automation of the B2B payments space is diverse, with solutions such as RPA, eInvoicing, and supplier portals crowding the edges of tools for the AP space. But it’s important to note that AP automation should be, first and foremost, primarily focused on the accounts payable process. Other solutions that may touch AP as a secondary focus have their value, but the value they bring for AP pales in comparison to that of a real, best-of-breed AP automation platform.

To avoid getting sidetracked with another IT project, it’s essential to gather clear and complete requirements for the accounts payable solution selection. This includes both business initiatives and requirements and technical requirements. Once you have these in hand, it’s much easier to narrow down the best possible providers and make a selection on the right tool for your organization.

Immediate Benefits from a Record Speed Deployment

AP automation may be considered a low hanging fruit in the garden of digital transformation. And for a good reason – the barrier to entry is impressively low in terms of both cost and effort needed to get up and running, particularly in comparison to the implementation projects for other payment solutions focused on procurement or supplier management. Despite that fact, the value provided from AP automation is comparably high. For such an easy implementation, the benefits reach throughout an organization, beyond the walls of the AP department, and are near-immediate from day one of using the solution.

AP automation provides accountability and transparency. Powerful data capture and archiving protects the integrity of operations and combats fraud. Cloud-based AP automation provides secure storage of sensitive financial documents, eliminating the risk of traditional filing cabinets stuffed with paper invoices. Similarly, it has revolutionized the audit process. One click provides a detailed transaction trail of any payment under question.

Today’s robust automation solutions also change the way the AP team functions. Team members spend less time on manual, tedious tasks of data entry and chasing down approvers. This time savings for the AP team allows them to focus on more value-adding work, such as identifying early payment discounts and supplier network optimization.

And the benefits don’t end on the desks of the AP team. The C-suite now has instant access to the latest data, allowing a business the agility to make informed decisions that positively influence cash flow and support overall growth. Usability of modern AP automation solutions means executives can rely on the facts and figures and operate with confidence when sharing status updates with investors and the public. Accounts payable data plays a pivotal role in finding ways to save money and boost the bottom line, which makes AP automation a no-brainer for investment from the business’ executive leaders.

Continuous Improvement: AP Solutions that Keep Giving Back

Beyond the quick lifts that come on day one of using a new solution, AP automation is like the gift that keeps on giving. It unlocks the opportunity to continue to monitor and identify areas for improvement, mainly through the introduction of key performance indicators (KPIs).

As part of the implementation process for AP automation, the AP team can proactively highlight the key metrics on which they measure the efficiency of the overall AP process.

While these may vary from business to business, common KPIs include the touchless invoice percentage, invoice lead time, and automatic distribution rates. Whatever the KPIs your organization lands on, regular reporting and analysis of these KPIs against veritable peer benchmarks deliver a level of visibility that is impossible without the power of AP automation. This also prevents complacency; as technology improves and machine learning powers automation to cover more and more of the AP process, the bar of so-called perfection will be perpetually higher, leaving constant room for improvement and ambition to become best-in-class.

The Future of AP Automation is Already Here

Gone are the days where an AP technology project was a time-consuming, arduous process with expensive updates and long timeframe for return on investment. The rise in availability and the speed to value from modern AP automation is setting a precedent for companies to make the investment now, or fail to meet the common standard for AP operations. Digital transformation of the AP process is a clear opportunity for the AP team to shift from a back-office function to a reliable, business-driving strategy center.

Join this upcoming webinar to learn how to navigate the path to automating your accounts payable department in 2019 with immediate benefits and a rapid return on investment. The live webinar session, featuring a panel of AP experts is set to take place on June 12th at 3 pm EST. Register here.

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