5 benefits of Accounts Payable automation for CFOs

A paper invoice comes in. Your Accounts Payable (AP) department handles it. It sounds like the simplest of set-ups, but that’s often the problem: it sounds so simple that it’s all too easy to not even think about an alternative. If you’ve not considered switching to an automated accounts payable solution or you’ve previously dismissed it as unnecessary, it’s time to think again.

These are just five ways it changes your business for the better.
1. Making the Most of your Staff
Your accounts team certainly can manually process invoices, but that’s not the best use of their abilities or time. Unnecessary administration is a waste of money in the form of opportunity cost.

Every minute your staff spend handling an invoice is a minute they can’t spend on other tasks. Free them up for tasks that truly benefit from their expertise, experience, skill, and judgment.

2. The Big Picture
Manual invoice processing doesn’t make it impossible to analyze your business, but it does delay and diminish that analysis. The more disparity between processing different invoices and payments, the harder it is to see the big picture.

Automating accounts payable means you can start accessing data as soon as the invoice is in your system, regardless of where in the handling process it is. This means you can get immediate, accurate insights into your business. You gain access to your spending patterns, and spot price increases that could affect future budget choices and other critical information that lets you make informed decisions about your business.

3. Lifting the Lid
It may not have the glamor of a heist movie or a cyber-attack, but accounts payable fraud is one of the biggest criminal threats to your business. Whether it's bogus changes of bank details, over-billing or “speculative invoicing” from fake suppliers, scammers will never stop trying to get you to hand over your money without even realizing it.

The big problem is that detecting fraud often means either spotting a small detail that isn’t quite right or noticing a suspicious pattern of activity. Neither of these methods is easy when you rely on manual processes. In contrast, an automated Purchase-to-Pay process will help prevent your team from missing anything.

4. Image Boost
The beauty of AP automation is that it improves the experience for suppliers as well. You can acknowledge invoices or chase up any potential errors or missing data far more quickly than if you do everything by hand.

With some “self-service” set-ups, suppliers can provide details, file invoices and check payment status online, reducing the need to play telephone tag or wait around for replies to emails. The whole thing runs more smoothly for the supplier, making you appear more professional, organized, and overall easier for business.

5. Smarter Security
Even staff who take a peculiar pleasure in filing will acknowledge that accounts payable activities can be delayed if a particular paper document is misplaced or lost. You also have to worry about the potential nightmare of recreating records if you suffer a flood or fire.

Automating and digitalizing invoices offers the perfect mix of access and security. Like any electronic document, searching becomes far easier when you can find a document through multiple characteristics (date, amount, supplier, payment status, service type) rather than flipping through files.

Access security becomes more sophisticated: you can control which staff members can see exactly which documents, rather than relying on the crude controls of the filing cabinet key. Remote working becomes easier without having to worry about an invoice locked up in the mail or it being lost in the shuffle. Secure back-ups mean you are straight back to work even after an unforeseen problem.

If you’re interested in accounts payable automation or want to learn more about what’s possible, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.