Life moves quickly these days – a newly-released piece of technology ten years ago was relevant for at least several years while now it can be obsolete in three months. Business is also moving at this frenetic pace, with the expansion of local markets into global economies, all facets of a business are pushed to turn products out as quickly as possible, from sale to delivered goods. While some mature business processes are still viable, many manual processes are becoming handicaps to successful competition. Automation is the answer for organizations struggling to keep up. Accounts Payable Automation, E-invoicing, and electronic payment are all necessary changes for enterprises to keep up with or surpass competition.
Most businesses focus on their front-end operations – sales and product production. This approach is understandable – if you don’t have a product to sell, and a sales force pushing it, you don’t have a business. What most businesses overlook is their back-end operations – procurement and accounts payable (AP) as prime examples. Manual operations in these areas can actually cost a business more money, in terms of lost discounts and fewer contracts, than the companies realize. Automating your AP department accomplishes many things – a shorter time for invoice approval, fewer exceptions in the invoicing process, being able to take advantage of dynamic discounts offered by suppliers – while freeing up your AP staff to become proactive in your business instead of just being overhead.
Removing most manually-processed invoices and replacing them with einvoices is a win-win situation: you get to take advantage of early-pay discounts, and your suppliers have a faster, smoother cash flow. There will always be exceptions requiring manual handling, but most of your invoices will turn around in a matter of days instead of months. E-invoicing requires your suppliers to be on board, as they will have to have software and hardware to electronically communicate, but it’s a one-time investment they can use with all their customers who are willing to do e-invoicing, and it speeds up their business as well. It’s not a hard sell, by any means.
Most companies are still paying invoices through the printing of paper checks in bi-weekly or regularly timed “check runs”. Today, however, a business can safely and securely issue payment electronically a variety of ways, including ACH, wire transfer, virtual card or a variety other methods. The benefits of ePayments are numerous, but perhaps the most compelling are that of fraud protection and the ability to offer dynamic discounts to suppliers.
Technology continues its rapid evolution; to keep up with the mercurial pace, businesses must take advantage of the new technology when it works to their advantage. However, just because a technology has changed doesn’t mean a business should jump into it with both feet. Embrace new technology, but don’t chase the latest fads.
Automating manual processes is the key to staying current in your business. Do it thoughtfully and correctly, and you will improve your ROI, and that is the ultimate business goal.