Three Important Elements of a Successful AP Department
As competition is increasing in most business sectors, organizational leaders are looking for their departments to start playing a more strategic role in both controlling costs and driving growth. Of course, AP departments are no exception—but the fact is that many AP teams are already working under extreme pressure to be doing more with less. As invoice volumes increase, invoice processing can quickly grow more complex. If, however, accounts payable departments are able to grow with enterprise-level invoice automation, it allows key factors to be put into place to increase growth and control costs.
But what are the key elements that an AP department needs to prioritize in order to control costs and drive growth? There are many different areas that are effective to work on, but three of the most important to look at are:
In accounts payable, it is crucial to be able to access a wide variety of data at any given time. Whether it be for audits, various reporting purposes, or supplier inquiries, having all data on record and easily accessible is essential. Having to manually thumb through thousands of invoices just to retrieve certain data is a huge waste of AP’s time—and simply unnecessary given today’s innovations in automation.
With enterprise-level accounts payable automation, invoices are permanently stored electronically to the cloud. High-level automation solutions will provide comprehensive searchability that allows AP to retrieve any and all data they need at a time. Instead of spending hours searching for certain information, the data becomes available in seconds. A high-level solution will also offer unlimited users to the solution’s portal—meaning that executive members across departments can also have access to this essential data. Furthermore, all of AP’s interactions with suppliers take place directly on the invoice, and are stored permanently—easing supplier inquiries and improving relations.
Volume & Complexity
Even with the rise in technology over the years, many suppliers are still sending in paper or emailed invoices. AP teams are spending seemingly endless man-hours manually sorting invoices and keying in massive amounts of data. All of this can result in data-entry errors, misplaced documents, and delayed or missed payments, necessitating additional approvals and discrepancy resolution. With enterprise-level invoice automation, the entire invoice process becomes electronic—paper and emailed invoices are sent directly to the solution, where they are then digitized using advanced AI and machine learning technologies, and then uploaded electronically for the customer—making processing thousands of invoices at a time easier than ever.
Additionally, enterprise accounts payable departments can often have complex and unique processes, so it’s important to find the right solution that can meet all of their needs. The right automation solution will understand that effective AP automation is not a “one-size-fits-all,” solution, and will work with your company to figure out the specific processes and tailor your invoice automation to meet those needs.
With how elaborate the newest forms of AP fraud are, it’s no wonder that enterprise-level companies are prioritizing the protection of their data. This is especially true in organizations that have strict standards of compliance, such as HIPAA regulations in healthcare. Because much of the data generated in accounts payable is repetitive, discrepancies that occur throughout the invoicing process can be highlighted electronically and dealt with immediately. Fraudulent activity is therefore drastically reduced, as well as more common errors, such as duplicate or missed payments on invoices. With financial information being stored in the cloud, as well as in-depth invoice history (including who has accessed, edited, and commented on an invoice), AP has better security and less chance of data loss.
The Future of AP
No matter what industry or field your company is involved in, enterprise-level accounts payable automation is an important part of its future. Keeping organizations aligned with the proper and most innovative invoice automation tools are key to making the most of AP’s time, leading to their ultimate success.