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How to Automate Your AP Department to be a Top Performer

All kinds and sizes of businesses must manage their cash flow efficiently for success. It is common for companies to encounter difficulties in financial management, and automating the accounts payable process can be advantageous. 

Improving accounts payable procedures enhances cash flow and offers AP staff control over payments while offering them a chance to influence the cash flow positively.  

Accounts Payable Automation

Automating AP department operations ensures enterprises make quicker payments and have a steady cash flow. It eliminates manual tasks, improves information sharing, and supports electronic billing or payments.

Organizations will need fewer staff as the system helps with financial documents and reporting. They can easily get information about unpaid invoices, estimates, purchase order linkages, taxation, and invoice timelines. Besides making the information accessible for scrutiny, AP automation reduces operating costs.

Businesses can carry out many tasks and save a lot of time using an electronic account payables system, like:

  • Automated processing of purchasing orders
  • Keeping a record of goods purchased.
  • Approving and verifying invoices
  • Signing off on purchasing orders
  • Timely payment to suppliers 

How accounts payable processes work

Companies purchase items from suppliers to pay later and the accounts payable team play a significant role in businesses’ financial transaction. AP automation ensures payments are correct, on time, and fraud-free.

The AP department gets bills through various channels and can get them electronically or by hand. With automation, there will be minimal information keying by humans. The system helps collect and tag invoices to the correct accounts and billing data. Workers can compare the bill against the purchase orders. 

Then, it sends invoices to the right individuals for authorization, using an AP or ERP system before bill settlement.  

The AP team takes a considerable time handling problems such as invoice exceptions, responding to supplier correspondences, locating other purchase documents, and seeking prompt approval of payments. 

It is essential to use automation to ensure the optimal functioning of the account payable processes. Here is how to do it; 

Involve AP Department 

People are not adept to change and involving the team will make them embrace it. The personnel needs to undergo training and acquire skills to utilize the system for the best results. Businesses can start the digital transformation initiative with repetitive tasks like account payables by automating the entire cash flow operations. Including stakeholders and getting their input when developing the plan is best. 

Use Advanced Technology for AP Automation  

New AP automation applications for businesses can do more than previous versions eliminating manual work along the way. They are cloud-based and automate accounts payable procedures, including billing, purchase order evaluations, and support electronic payments. 

Digitization improves accuracy in invoices and purchase orders by pulling information from the company database. Staff does not have to move from their desks to get payment approvals as they can route them automatically, notify the relevant person and escalate matters of concern. 

AP automation eliminates data input mistakes.

Optimizing the system for mobile devices will simplify invoice approving and signing as executives can do it on their smartphones. 

The system automatically saves data and documents to the company database offering a centralized platform for information access. With key performance indicators, businesses can use dashboards to track the AP department performance and generate reports in varying formats. 

Integrate Support Digital Tools 

The AP team must pull information from external platforms when processing invoices and purchase orders. Integrating other digital tools into your accounts payable system is important for optimal performance. A qualified and experienced technician can help enterprises find the right system for their business needs.  

Continuously analyze and improve the System

It is improbable to get everything perfect upon the first attempt. Like other digital transformation initiatives for businesses, AP automation is a continuously changing process. To increase productivity, it is critical to analyze and improve your system functionality to adapt your processes accordingly.

After utilizing technology for some time, people will develop varying opinions about it. Interviewing the AP team about system functionality will provide ideas for modifications and upgrades. You can improve performance by asking users to share their experience: What have they found beneficial, and what to do to simplify their work? Then pick the greatest ideas for implementation; Users will be happier seeing their proposals implemented. 

Ensure Transparent Accounts Payable Operations

Data silos arise from manual procedures and piles of documentation, which can hinder transparency in business payments. However, AP automation is a critical step in evaluating corporate spending adequately.

Not having clarity on invoice processing and payment procedures exposes businesses to risks and inefficiency. It will take lots of time to get information and organize data. In addition, organizations will need to recognize the real worth of the information they obtain from the AP system.

Firms may benefit from early payments on invoices as suppliers have discounts for customers paying before the deadline. AP automation allows companies beat the payment timeline by approving invoices quickly and eliminating problems that may cause delays in processing. 

Digitization will reduce the time used in invoice processing procedures and human mistakes from data entry, at the same time, help in tracking payment schedules to benefit from the discounts. In addition to reducing invoice exceptions, AP automation ensures correct and timely payments. Interactions with suppliers become easier, more reliable, and mutually beneficial. 

Automation of AP streamlines supplier contacts

Suppliers can choose payment methods using the AP system and send invoices in different formats. 

The Final Thoughts

When looking for AP automation tools, it is essential to consider the digital solution connect to your existing system for the best performance. 

Undertaking the AP automation in-house can b costly for small and medium enterprises since they probably do not have the personnel to do the work. However, businesses can outsource digital transformation services from professional IT firms. Besides cost saving, companies get the right expertise and continued support during implementation. 

Enterprises can build the automation system from scratch or purchase third-party applications to streamline business processes. 

June 27, 2023