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7 mins read

Automated Invoice Processing

In the Flow and in the Know: Accounts Payable Invoice Workflow Automation

by Yooz on 05.21.2021

Invoice Workflow Automation

Imagine, for a moment, a world without paper at the back office. No envelopes to open, no invoices to unfold, no information to type, and no documents to scan. No folders being sent back and forth between management and departments, no checks to cut and mail, no more stapling of matching purchasing orders to the -- eventually -- paid invoices. And no more trips to the filing cabinets or storage room for the team to archive or unearth old invoices when questions or an audit pop up. 

 

Sound futuristic? Far from it, this is the reality of automated invoice and payment processing here and now. Accounts payable automation is one aspect of digital transformation that any business, no matter how small, can experience today. 

 

When it comes to strategic innovation, the accounts payable function is often overlooked. That’s a pity because there is a lot of potential in invoice workflow automation, potential to save time and money and quickly and tangibly boost productivity for the entire organization. 

 

Streamline Your Workflow With Accounts Payable Automation Software

 

Yooz is considered the leader in intelligent AP automation because it’s the reliable, scalable, and affordable way to automate your AP workflow. As a cloud-based platform, it uses the latest in robotic process automation, deep learning, and artificial intelligence to do all the heavy lifting in the payable process for its customers. That means most invoices don’t even have to be touched by a human -- unless there’s an exception requiring a review. 

 

The results speak for themselves:

 

  • Yooz customers see an 80% reduction in processing cost per invoice
  • They can cut cycle times by just as much, from weeks down to hours
  • They significantly slash error rates and fraud, plus they  
  • Improve visibility to better handle cash flow and 
  • Up their strategic planning beyond the finance department.  

 

Winning invoice workflow automation is no magic trick. It follows best practices and uses proven technologies that Yooz has been pioneering and fine-tuning for two decades. Its training set is without match since the platform has captured and indexed more than 100 million invoices from more than a million different vendors. 

 

The more templates, formats, and peculiarities Yooz sees, the smarter it becomes to find the relevant keywords and amounts in each vendor invoice that comes in. So smart, in fact, that you can just perform a search across your entire invoice landscape just like you’d do with a search engine on the web. 

 

Any Format, Any Channel: Automation Software Turns The Payment Workflow Into Smooth Sailing

 

It’s a painless and smooth process. Regardless of the format and channel -- paper, fax, email attachment, or machine-readable electronic submission to a vendor portal -- Yooz ingests each invoice or other document without the company having to train the system. In fact, customers can be up and running with invoice workflow automation in under an hour and out of the gate process 80% of their usual invoices without any intervention. It’s state-of-the-art automation that simply works from the moment you turn it on and that gets faster, smarter, and more powerful with every document it sees. 

 

Going from a manual (and messy) to a paperless (and proficient) workflow does require some up-front planning, though. It might be a tempting idea to apply AP automation indiscriminately to every possible point along your AP process, but you'll be more successful if you first carefully take stock of your company’s needs. With some forethought to identify your pain points, you will arrive at a holistic end-to-end payable process that does cover every step from purchase to pay. 

 

That’s even more relevant when businesses are not running at their usual clip. Companies large and small have taken a cue from the disruptions caused by the pandemic and more broadly embraced invoice workflow automation. When large parts of the office sat empty for weeks or months, it became obvious that it pays to go digital, fast, and remove roadblocks to quickly process invoices, pay vendors in time and keep the cash flowing, all in the name of making the business more resilient. 

 

With a cloud platform such as Yooz, it doesn’t matter where a finance or accounts payable expert is located to capture, route, and review invoices. The system takes care of most steps of the workflow. Managers working remotely can review and approve invoices after they have been automatically GL-coded and routed to them, even on a mobile device. That’s a clear advantage when the vast majority of employees are forced to work remotely.

 

Work From Home Is Not an Issue When You Take Your Accounts Payable Workflow to the Cloud

 

The experts at Levvel Research surveyed more than 300 professionals involved in or with knowledge of their organization’s payables process for their 2021 Payables Insight report. Here’s how they summarize the benefits of a digital workflow:

 

“It’s widely acknowledged that manual AP leads to a slower process, lost documents, fewer discounts, and poor supplier relationships. However, the past year has shown other weaknesses as well: because of the pandemic, this model is not just dated and costly but also puts the health and safety of employees in danger. 

 

Organizations that manage their AP via automation software were able to ensure business continuity without skipping a beat. Not only does this accounting software automate many of the low-value, tactical tasks of invoicing, but it also facilitates remote work. So, as long as employees have internet access, AP is able to operate seamlessly.”

 

Even when normalcy returns to offices and business operations, invoice workflow automation can help boost efficiency, productivity and morale, for various reasons ranging from fewer errors to lower fraud rates. As Levvel found, sending invoices by email is now more common and is a large improvement over paper since it represents an easier, faster, more accessible way to send invoices using the internet. 

 

“But email still has its shortcomings: it is more prone to fraud, maintains many of the frustrations of paper,  and, most importantly, is an unstructured invoice format. Because most email invoices are human-generated PDFs, they are not capable of being processed electronically and must still be digitized via OCR or an alternate method of conversion to e-invoice.” For these reasons, the researchers write, “structured invoices—EDI, XML, and those submitted via supplier portal—are ideal methods for invoicing. They are the most cost-efficient, fast, and secure way to receive  invoices.” 

 

From Routing to Payment and Approval: Accounts Payable Automation Software Makes It Happen

 

Entering invoice data into a company’s systems also still has a lot of room for improvement. As invoice volume keeps growing, an organization is either forced to hire more staff or rely on outsourcing. The latter often still relies on humans in a far-off location, exposing a company to the same risks for errors and delays. The best way forward, according to Levvel, is a capture tool such as Yooz that’s equipped  with OCR and electronic invoicing capabilities: “It offers long-run savings while retaining control.”

 

Routing and approval, the next steps in invoice workflow automation, are equally critical for an organization. Walking, mailing, or emailing an invoice used to be the classical routes but are losing in importance compared to automatic routing. Companies today have the ability to set up processes where documents are directed to the right person for approval, based on GL code, department, spend total, and cost center. 

 

A platform like Yooz takes the guesswork out of this workflow and intelligently forwards each invoice or even batches to one or multiple recipients, depending on the individual rules a company sets up. Even better, the latest version of Yooz called Rising knows when someone is not available and will switch to a different workflow pattern or alternate recipient. That way, companies always pay on time, can lock in early-pay discounts, and maintain good relationships with their vendors. 

 

Automation Means Satisfaction: Levvel’s Take On Accounts Payable Software

 

Once a company embraces a smart invoice automation workflow, the benefits accrue quickly, according to Levvel:

 

“Third-party AP tools are the most modern option available and do the most effective job of automating and computerizing the invoicing process. Organizations that use these tools report  the highest levels of satisfaction and automation.”

 

“AP software reduces time, errors, and paper by moving the process into a centralized, online platform that is accessible by employees at different locations and seniority levels. The ability to manage AP in a singular location reduces confusion about where an invoice is in the approval process. Reducing the time wasted on typical tactical AP tasks makes employees  more productive and allows them to focus on more strategic efforts.”

 

Levvel’s market experts also have one important piece of advice when selecting a system for invoice workflow automation: “Think into the future.” By that they mean organizations of any size should try to think ahead and imagine how its volume, processes and other details of its business may change. An end-to-end platform, in short, should be able to grow with a company’s needs, from a changing customer base to a larger geographic footprint. 

 

When you’re working with a powerful cloud-based solution, the tools are always up to date so you’re always in the flow and in the know.