Unleashing the Potential of AP: The Future of Accounts Payable

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Historically, the accounts payable department has been thought of as an overhead expense, not as a revenue generator or as important to future strategy. This view of AP has been, for the most part, grounded in truth–until now. With enterprise-level accounts payable automation, it’s now possible to use your accounts payable department as more than just a necessary paper-shuffler; using it instead as a tool to enhance your business offerings. It’s time to bring your department past the baseline of yesterday’s manual processes—and into the future of accounts payable.

Automating AP

One huge time and money pit for accounts payable is working with paper. Paper invoicing used to be the most common method for invoicing, but in the past several years, we’ve seen technology gradually eliminate paper from AP departments. It is now possible to move your department out of the dark ages of manual invoicing, and into the future of accounts payable with enterprise-level automation.

It’s important to keep in mind that replacing paper processes with just any old automation is typically not the best idea. Low-level or partial automation can be costly in the long-run; often not reducing manual processes by much. It is also common for businesses to end up having to implement more automation later on to make up for where the low-level or partial automation is lacking. Instead, larger businesses would see a higher ROI by investing in an enterprise-level solution.

The benefits of enterprise-level accounts payable automation are numerous. For one, you can receive invoices and pay suppliers within a matter of days, instead of weeks. By paying your invoices earlier, you’re able to take advantage of any early pay discounts offered by suppliers. You can also take advantage of information previously not available to you when invoices are stored in a database instead of a paper file. By eliminating manual tasks, your department now has the potential to turn its focus towards more important and less repetitive tasks.

AP as a Strategy Supporter

With the electronic invoicing that comes with enterprise-level automation solutions, key metrics that provide strategic information become available to AP. Most enterprise-level solutions provide comprehensive search functionality that enables AP to query information and filter results. Your AP staff can now spend their time focused on spend analytics—determining what products are sold most often, and which products should be considered for displacing. AP can also take control of supplier relationship management, by determining which suppliers deliver products on time, and which tend to be late or inconsistent. With spend analytics and supplier relationship management information provided by AP, your company can determine who should be targeted for new product offerings, and also pinpoint those relationship-building type clients you want to work with.

AP as an Asset

Through high-level automation, accounts payable takes itself from a perceived cost-center to a proven, essential profit center for a company. The accounts payable department contains a wealth of valuable information, but its potential is greatly limited when the AP department is paper-based, or has lower level automation. With enterprise-level AP automation, your AP department becomes an asset simply by cutting costs and paying invoices faster. This alone is worth the time that it can take to automate the department. By automating AP with enterprise-level solutions, you take your department one step closer to the future of accounts payable.

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