Flexibility and savings are important to your accounts payable department, so it’s important that you understand how automation can get you there.

Imagine a triangle. There’s an entity listed at each point. The one at the top is your AP department. The second is your outside suppliers. The third is every other department in your company with a stake in paying the bills.

Now imagine that the sides are flexible, so that they can lengthen or shorten depending on the responsibility each entity carries at any given time. Sometimes the sides will be the same length; sometimes they will vary.

The key to understanding the benefits of cutting-edge AP automation is to see the importance of each player in the payment process. There was a time not long ago when all three were considered isolated, each contributing separate roles at different times. Sometimes they might overlap, but not often. When they did, it usually wasn’t pleasant.

Not so with leading AP automation solutions. One of the concepts with which high-level automation solutions were designed is savings through flexibility, “flexibility” being the ability of all three entities to access and contribute to invoice processing in real time.

To understand what we mean, first discard the notion of any paper being used in the process. Everything is done by computer, starting with the drafting of the invoice at the supplier’s office. Once that’s done, instead of going out in the mail, it’s sent to your AP department electronically where most, if not all, information is logged by the automated system without the need for human intervention.

Now the third corner comes in: the procuring department or person. Matching up purchase orders and signing off on approvals are required before your AP department can go to the next step. So how is this done? Right from the computer terminal on the procuring person’s desk—no “in box” or file cabinet needed. There are no paper invoices or other documents to lose or misfile. Everything the procuring party needs to know is all there, accessible in real time. All it takes is a few clicks, an electronic signature, and that person is free to move on to other things.

Maybe the procurer has a question for the supplier first, or an error to address. Or maybe the supplier has a question for AP. No problem. The supplier is plugged in, a partner in the process. Through their own computer, the supplier’s accounts receivable department can see what’s going in real time. They can message you, add information, fix an error, explain something.

And what does this streamlined partnering system lead to? Savings for all. It’s been proved over and over again. With leading AP automation, your company saves money and headaches, the same as your suppliers. With everyone working together toward a common goal, and with the benefit of a flexible and user-friendly interface, it’s a win-win-win.