Evolution and transformation: The rise of AP automation

Accounts Payable (AP) is a critical function of enterprise finance that ensures suppliers are paid on time and capital outflows are managed efficiently. Accuracy and diligence are requirements that are interwoven throughout.

Over the years, AP has evolved, with technology playing a pivotal role in streamlining processes, eliminating errors, and maximizing efficiency. This transformation has essentially enabled the automation of AP. Achieved through the use of software, AP automation is a powerful tool that reshapes the way large businesses manage their financial operations.

The essence of AP automation

At its core, AP automation is the use of technology to streamline and automate the various tasks associated with the AP department. These tasks typically include processing invoices, managing accounts payable, communicating with suppliers, and generating reports. AP automation systems utilize advanced software, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to perform these tasks quickly, accurately, and with minimal human intervention.

Key components of AP automation

AP automation encompasses a wide range of functionalities designed to simplify and enhance the AP process. Here are some key components:

  • Invoice processing: One of the fundamental tasks of AP automation is the processing of invoices. Automated systems extract, capture, and verify data from invoices received in multiple formats, automate postings to ERP systems, and automate workflows for exceptions. This produces dramatic time savings and eliminates the need for manual data entry.
  • Invoice matching: Automation software automatically matches invoices with purchase orders and receipts, ensuring that quantities, prices, and terms align correctly. This eliminates errors and accelerates the approval and payment process.
  • Statement matching: Automated AP systems compare supplier statements with invoices that have been received and recorded, swiftly detecting discrepancies. This ensures supplier accounts stay error-free and helps nurture strong supplier relationships while preventing inadvertent financial irregularities.
  • Duplicate matching: AP automation employs advanced algorithms to identify duplicate invoices, preventing overpayments, ensuring accuracy and promoting good financial health. This automated feature enhances cost control and reduces the risk of errors.
  • Workflow automation: AP automation systems enable the design of customized workflows to route invoices through the approval process. This accelerates invoice review and approval by the appropriate individuals or departments, reducing bottlenecks and delays.
  • Supplier Communication: AP automation facilitates communication with suppliers by providing portals where they submit invoices, check invoice status, see payment information, send messages, and resolve disputes. This provides transparency, strengthens supplier relationships and saves time normally spent on inquiries.
  • Reporting and analytics: AP automation systems enable reporting, allowing AP teams to generate insightful reports on all aspects of the AP process. Typical KPIs such as the volume of invoices processed, payment totals for specific reporting periods and GI/NR are enhanced by the ability to identify trends and make predictions. These insights drive better decision-making and support quality management through process optimization.

The benefits of AP automation

Implementing AP automation brings a multitude of benefits to businesses, including:

  • Improved efficiency: AP automation streamlines processes, accelerates approvals, and reduces manual data entry. This efficiency translates into faster invoice processing and reduced operational costs.
  • Error reduction: By automating data extraction and invoice matching, the risk of errors is significantly reduced. This not only enhances accuracy but also prevents costly mistakes like overpayments.
  • Cost savings: AP automation reduces the need for manual labor, paper, and physical storage space. This leads to cost savings in terms of reduced staffing requirements and lower administrative overhead.
  • Enhanced supplier relations: The transparency and communication features of AP automation systems strengthen supplier relationships. Suppliers can easily track payments and resolve issues, leading to smoother partnerships.
  • Financial strategy: AP automation isn’t just about efficiency; it’s a strategic asset where reporting delivers business intelligence. This improves cash flow and working capital management, empowering enterprises to invest in growth, negotiate favorable terms, and navigate economic challenges with resilience.

Implementation considerations

While the benefits of AP automation to the enterprise are undeniable, successful implementation requires careful planning and consideration. AP automation technology is truly a game-changer but it needs a robust solution. A key element is the support provided by the vendor, both pre- and post-deployment phases.

Here are some key questions to keep in mind:

  • Integration: Can the AP automation system seamlessly integrate with your existing accounting and ERP systems to avoid data silos?
  • Training and support: Does the vendor provide adequate training and support to ensure the system is used to maximize the benefits?
  • Data security: Are robust security measures in place to protect sensitive financial data from breaches and cyber threats?
  • Scalability: Is the solution truly enterprise-scale and capable of handling 80,000 to 1.5 million + every year?

Learn more about AP automation with APMatching

AP automation is not just a technological trend; for progressive businesses, it’s a strategic imperative. By leveraging the power of automation, large organizations streamline AP processes, reduce errors, enhance efficiency, and gain valuable insights into their financial operations.

See how APMatching accounts payable automation software transforms AP in the enterprise. Take a personalized demo with one of our representatives, and we’ll show you how the software eliminates tedious, time-consuming manual invoice processing and automates duplicate invoice detection.

If you like what you see, we’ll give you full support so that you can more fully evaluate APMatching with a Proof of Concept (PoC), demonstrating how effective it is, using your own data.