The term “automation” can be met with quite a bit of apprehension and anxiety in a lot of businesses. Executives can see it as an unnecessary expense, while employees hear automation and they think it’s something that’s going to replace them.
This isn’t necessarily true. What automation does is allow a business to grow, and maximize the potential of its biggest resource—human capital. One area businesses should focus on is accounts payable or AP automation.
If you’re wondering what a business looks like with AP automation, the following are some things likely to happen.
An AP automation suite should come with the ability to set up a business rules engine, allowing for the customization of all things related to spend policies and routing rules.
Not only are these rules set up through the use of AP automation, but they’re also enforced in real-time. This makes it easier for everyone involved, and reduces noncompliance, while of course controlling costs.
There is no reason that businesses should have to contend with large amounts of paper. Having paper-based workflows is problematic for a myriad of reasons. So many processes have to happen for paper to go from point A to point B. It has to be collected, organized, approved, scanned, copied, processed, stored and ultimately retrieved at some point.
Businesses reluctant to embrace automation often don’t see just how much those paper-based processes are costing. There has to be a human completing every step of the process, creating massive administrative burdens.
Then, of course, there are resources dedicated to storage. Processing a paper invoice can be significantly more expensive than using AP automation, and it’s taking employees away from strategic tasks and putting them on things that could be done through automation.
Data security is one of the top priorities for most businesses right now, and yet when they’re not using a secure, automated AP system, they’re leaving key data open and vulnerable. The AP department has no sense of security when there are paper invoices that are lying around on desks or being stored.
An automated system provides various levels of access and the ability to customize permissions. Not only is data stored safely in a centralized repository with AP automation, but it also allows for easier audits and the ability to quickly spot red flags, issues or discrepancies.
Data is more protected, while at the same time there’s more analytics transparency, both of which are strategic concerns for businesses operating in a modern environment.
With AP automation it’s really difficult to see what’s happening and where which also makes it difficult to create goals and objectives and measure how well you’re doing to meet those.
For example, if you want to cut costs in one specific area, but you don’t have a centralized way to see what those costs are and how they’re currently being paid, it’s going to be tough to meet that objective.
Automation in any area, not just AP automation, makes it easy to collect relevant data and information, appropriately organize it, and then set measurable goals that are strategic and focus on growing a successful business.