For most of us, the internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives. We can either choose to utilize the numerous advantages it affords such as social media, online learning, e-commerce, information resources and good entertainment; or we could ignore it and lead a slower, and far less productive existence. Because our world is undeniably becoming more tech dependent, it would be foolish not to recognize that business processes are also on the same trajectory as the rest of our internet-centric world.

So why aren’t more organizations fully committing to advancing their processes at the same rate as the rest of the world? Doesn’t it make sense that companies become more “E”-centric and use technology to enhance efficiency and increase profit margin? The Accounts Payable department is no exception. Companies like IPAYABLES have made it possible to automate the payables process by which an organization can approve an invoice in a matter of minutes using the cloud.

Recently, I was on LinkedIn and I posed the question to my discussion group; “why is E-invoicing so important to the modern Accounts Payable professional?” One respondent, David Kallsen, the Assistant Project Leader at Lourdes University, replied with the following post:

“The short answer is, companies are under intense pressure to do more with less. ‘Less’ typically means ‘less staff.’ E-invoicing and other A/P automation and systematic tools help allow companies to meet this challenge and stay competitive. A few years ago, I had read Daniel Pink’s A WHOLE NEW MIND: WHY RIGHT-BRAINERS WILL RULE THE FUTURE. In it, Mr. Pink discusses the three A’s—abundance, Asia, and automation—three competitive pressures of our current economy. In the section on automation, the author uses the stories of John Henry and Garry Kasparov to illustrate that, simply put, there are some tasks better suited to today’s machines compared to human beings.

It has been my experience that fear drives many, if not most, people who work in Accounts Payable to prefer processes that are based on clear-cut rules with no exceptions and are documented with detailed, step-by-step instructions. However, is that not the very essence of a computer program? Strictly by the bottom line numbers, compared to their human counterparts modern computer systems can often perform rules-based, sequential tasks in much higher volume, with significantly fewer errors, and with significantly lower material costs.”

I particularly agreed with the point he made about how some tasks are just better suited for machines rather than humans. Case in-point, iPayables customers (who are now fully automated) have reported a dramatic reduction in invoice errors and exceptions with AP Automation compared to the manual processing of the past. David expounds on this point stating:

“Many so-called exceptions can be included as part of the rules. Those few transactions which violate the assumptions of the programming logic may be loaded into a queue for manual processing. In one example from my past, EDI allowed us to drop the manual processing portion for a 40,000-invoices/month-supplier from 100% to only a few invoices/month. A hard-nosed management team might also subscribe to the concept that, when properly implemented and maintained, such systems do not take sick days, lunch and bathroom breaks, or succumb to fatigue. They typically do not chat at the water cooler, feel threatened or slighted, play politics, experience performance anxiety, or fall prey to any of the myriad other human productivity drains which play out in the typical work environment. Certainly, this is all true.

However, beyond that, I would propose such automated techniques bring the opportunity for improved resource management. Many tasks (e.g., resolving supplier complaints, troubleshooting GRNI issues, collaborating on continuous improvement projects, etc.) in A/P require human interaction and judgment. Freeing employees from the daily grind of mindless processing permits them to engage in tasks which are more appropriate and satisfying to today’s knowledge workers, and (I believe) benefits an organization with a more productive allocation/ratio of equipment and human resources to the discipline of Accounts Payable. Certainly, there is much more, especially as one gets into the details of implementing e-invoicing systems, but this gives you a general overview of my philosophy on the topic.”

I would like to thank David for his participation on this topic. I wish more AP decision makers could recognize how positively impactful a conversion to automation really is.