Technology makes the lives of human beings easier by bringing knowledge, techniques, tools, and skills together. Accounts technology has made careers in bookkeeping, auditing, tax preparation, payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable easier, effective, and efficient. Accounts payable processes are multi-tiered, multi-departmental, and complicated.
AP automation, also known as accounts payable automation, is how accounts payable processes are handled digitally using automation or technology rather than manually. The accounts payable process comprises invoice data capture, coding invoices, cost centre approval, matching invoices to purchase orders, and posting them for payments.
The accounts payable cycle is the process of placing orders to suppliers, purchasing goods, and making final payments to the suppliers. An accounts payable system pays the debt of an organization in a coordinated manner.
When we talk about the types of AP technologies that most enterprises choose to install for the smooth running of the invoice approval process, three main solutions or technologies are chosen widely today. These are as follows:
- Document imaging/scanning (72%)
- Automated routing and approval workflow (52%)
- Automated data capture and extension (38%)
However, these three technologies focus on the initial phases of the invoice process, such as invoice receipt and entering data into the accounting system. Document imaging/scanning does exactly what it says: a technology that permits users to scan hard copy documents into a computer system and keep them in digital format. In other words, it supports digitizing invoices. The digitizing process extracts the relevant data from these invoices and produces a digitized invoice. Independently, document imaging/scanning solution does not add much usefulness to the process as a scanned invoice still requires to be entered into the accounting system for approval.
Automated data capture and extraction tools, such as OCR and ICR, help organizations streamline processes through accounts payable processing automation, improving accuracy and cutting costs by reducing employees performing manual data entry. ICR services upgrade the performance of OCR technologies by translating diverse handwriting styles to extract data from both structured and unstructured texts. Automated routing and approval workflow tools then allow the AP team members to proceed with the digital invoice along a directed pathway to final approval. Workflow automation standardizes how the task gets done and provides accountability, thus increasing efficiency.
In reality, many organizations already have the tools required to scan paper invoices into a digital system, such as all-in-one printers, and may not need special tools for the scan and capture part of the process. But, this does not mean that these three technologies, when used together, are not powerful or effective. Rather, when these three systems are chained together, they can bring a significant difference in several invoices per full-time employee and tremendously speed invoice processing.
For many organizations, financial results get a boost as a result of efficiencies gained from the scan and capture solutions. However, for others, scan and capture solutions are merely the first step on the road to a complete elnvoicing solution that gives them an idea about how digital technologies work before making a big technology investment.
These days, AI software is getting in trend. One such software is Smart Payables. Smart payables offer a full range of accounts payable payment solutions for businesses. Founded in 2005 in Arizona, with its headquarters in Centennial, smart payables is the newest brand. It provides innovative technology through a user-friendly fintech system that enables customers to efficiently outsource their check payments, document printing, and mailing. With a fully HIPPA, SOC2, and ISO compliant programme, it can fulfil the needs of all businesses and large organizations. Laser check security decreases the risk of frauds along with MICR.
The SMART goals for accounts payable automation are related to cutting down costs, reducing the number of data-entry errors, and improving processing times. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
The common shortcomings of manual accounts payable processing are missing purchase orders, payment errors, slow processing, double payments, frauds, theft, lack of audit trail, and data entry errors.
The top three technologies widely used today: document imaging/scanning, automated routing and approval workflows, and automated data capture and extension, along with AI software such as smart payables, can prove to be tremendously powerful. AP automation or accounts payable process automation software empowers businesses by reducing manual tasks and freeing up cash flow, thus improving the accounts payable cycle by reducing processing times, costs, manual efforts, and avoiding duplicate payments.
Further, these software help businesses manage and pay for invoices in an organized, timely manner for the precise amounts, while saving vendor fees, human error, and of course, paper. Automation is the best method to combat the high costs of manual processing and improve the accounts payable process.