An ever-growing number of regulations, such as Making Tax Digital, increasingly require companies to produce documents for which they can guarantee the integrity of content and information. Enabling archives with probative value is one of the greatest benefits of digital invoices and automation.
Leading this evolution, chartered accountants and auditors are particularly well positioned to observe the benefits of AP Automation, including significant reductions in errors, late payments and disputes, and therefore the time spent dealing with them.
But how is AP automation changing the wider business landscape? Here are three ways AP automation can disrupt businesses for the better.
1. Lower costs, faster processing
For both accounting professionals and companies, the main attraction is the highly beneficial cost of automated invoices compared to paper invoices.
Of the various types of administrative tasks in businesses, the most costly is accounting, which make up for roughly 20% of total administration time.
On top of that, you also need to consider storage, archives and, as needed, document look-up, representing an average of £2.50 when taking into account indirect costs (such as time spent and storage space) and indirect costs (such as loss and delays).
By digitalising invoices, these costs can be lowered by 70%. Even better, with digitalisation, companies can also automate many tasks and further increase their return on investment. In the end, it is possible to improve the processing cycle by a factor of 20.
To maximise these benefits, the question that comes up is that of choosing which ap automation software to use. Four main criteria must be considered. The first is functional: the solution must cover all the company’s needs from capturing incoming documents regardless of their format (paper, PDF, EDI etc.) up through secure archiving, after passing through all the phases of the accounting process.
2. Choosing the right AP Automation software
The second criterion concerns the technology: a modern, open, Cloud-oriented solution enables the company to take advantage of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, as well as to interface easily with their regular ERP, management and accounting systems.
It's also got to be practical. Any solution must be easy to manage, intuitive, enjoyable and benefit from accessible and professional support so that the solution is perceived by users as a real advantage for their everyday work.
The last consideration is price. The provider’s pricing must be clear and all-inclusive, and not hold any bad surprises. The Cloud is often the most attractive approach, as its subscription model enables companies to only pay for what they really use, without taking the risk of a long-term contractual commitment.
3. Users are the key to success
Given these considerations, what are the factors for a successful AP automation project? How can you approach the project to quickly and confidently obtain the expected benefits?
One of the priorities is to really understand how the people using the solution perform their jobs (purchasing, accounting, management control etc.) and what they expect from it.
AP Automation is much more than a simple transposition of people’s work methods into software. It actually helps them overcome traditional limits, such as: redundant tasks, time-consuming and error-prone data (re)entry, risks and shortcomings in processes, and more.
Designing the solution with users is a way to give yourself the best chances of being able to provide them with a tool that works for them and which they will adopt willingly. After choosing adapted and sufficiently flexible software, aspects such as configuration, deployment and learning are also much easier, resulting in concrete results being obtained nearly immediately.
Putting businesses back in control
If there is one word that summarises the benefits of AP automation for companies, it would be “control”.
The invoice management process, with direct impact on expenses, is vital for companies. With ap automation, that process is fully under control both with respect to associated risks (fraud, disputes and non-conformities) and intrinsic costs (productivity).
By implementing the right solution, AP automation can become the cornerstone for disciplined and transparent management.