Thought Leadership

Why Now Is The Time for Accounts Payable Automation

April 15, 2021

Why Now Is The Time for Accounts Payable Automation

Accounts payable automation is a hot topic right now – a simple google search for “AP automation” returns over 80m results. A recent report from the Tungsten Network identifying that automating and optimising the procure to pay process was regarded as the highest priority in the near term. It’s not a surprise, the pandemic threw many core business processes into disarray as people were unable to get into offices and follow their manual processes. 

So, it begs the question – why is now the time for accounts payable automation?

For most businesses the pandemic exposed the holes in their processes, policies, supply chains and overall business resiliency. Adapting to this challenge has been a mixed bag for organisations, some taking drastic action to secure supply chains, cash flow and jobs. Many businesses are facing increasingly tougher market conditions and improving profitability has to be a focus for every business right now.

Traditional business thinking has been focussed on increasing revenue and reducing the costs of getting new customers as a way to improve your overall profitability and as such these processes and procedures are typically, already, optimised and efficient as possible. 

In the current business environment it’s far easier to save a dollar than it is to earn a dollar. Whilst ‘selling more’ seems like the logical approach there are sustainable savings that can be achieved by focussing on back office excellence, optimisation and automation.

Why Accounts Payable Automation?

Accounts payable is actually an area that is easier than others to automate, with new technologies making the data capture, validation and workflow much easier. With 72% of organisations spending as much as 520 hours per year on manual accounts payable tasks the opportunity to drive real time cost savings is huge.

AP Automation has become cheaper

AP automation technology has evolved and so have the deployment options and business models available to businesses. Many of which are far less capex heavy and work on a subscription-based model. 

Accounts Payable as a function is often overlooked

AP is often seen as a ‘black box’ which serves their business well, by many executive teams. A report from Inspyrus identified that while 93% of front-line staff identified several faults, half of C-suite execs thought their AP process worked “just fine”. Businesses are overlooking an area that can drive real savings, simply because they lack the data and insight to identify the issue.

Accounts Payable Automation can help battle invoice fraud

A paper-based invoice process consists of several manual activities that can be automated. This enables greater control and visibility within the finance function. Especially at a time when AP fraud continues to be a growing concern. According to MineralTree, 68% of executives reported that they had received a fake invoice or experienced some other attempted form of payments fraud. AP automation eliminates invoice fraud, utilising set digital approval workflows and automated data checks.

Accounts payable automation that drives costs down and charged on a pay-as-you-go model is available to businesses of any size.

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