Processing invoices should be a streamlined affair, with intelligent automation now able to handle most tasks - even learn from them - on its own. This means that what experts describe as straight-through (invoice) processing is defined as involving as little human involvement as possible to accomplish tasks at maximum speed without sacrificing accuracy, security, or flexibility.
Automated invoice processing with a cloud-based platform is one such type of intelligent automation processing. It provides companies with the ideal workflow process to handle their invoices end-to-end, covering all steps from purchase to payment. As a result, businesses will see drastically lowered costs, shorter cycle times, and unlock a treasure trove of actionable insights. But not all automated platforms are the same.
Key Questions to Ask Before Choosing Invoice Automation Software
Any business researching software platforms to automate their invoice processing - indeed, the entire Accounts Payable workflow process - should look under the hood to make sure the system’s features and functionalities will match with their specific needs. When we speak with existing and prospective customers of Yooz, we regularly hear the same questions:
- How can we maintain maximum flexibility to process invoices and pay on time and with as few exceptions or errors as possible?
- Is it easy is it to customize the automation workflow process?
- Is the implementation process straightforward and painless?
- What about ease of use for the AP team once the automation system is up and running?
Fortunately, Yooz has all these answers and more. Let’s dive into each of the above questions in more detail and explore how a cloud-based platform addresses each one of them.
Easy Does it: The Mantra of Automated Invoice Processing
First and foremost, an automated invoice processing system should account for both existing needs as well as possible future needs. This means a scalable platform that can adjust at any time needed.
Two words: flexibility and customization.
From an outside perspective, many businesses have developed an Accounts Payable process that appears complex and unwieldy. Unfortunately, this can be a reality since many automation process platforms are in fact limited and rigid in their workflow options.
However, using a cloud-based platform for automated invoice processing gives management greater flexibility and control over each step involved including the ability to customize (or fine-tune) the invoice workflow process at any time according to specific needs.
For example, consider how invoices are routed. Once an invoice enters the system (typically through optical character recognition or OCR), information is immediately captured. The software extracts and understands predetermined data points including amounts, PO numbers, due dates, and bank information with the help of machine-learning algorithms. It then interacts with a business’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to provide real-time extracted data.
Yooz cloud-based OCR takes flexibility to an additional level, benefitting from a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that renders it agile and constantly self-improving. In fact, the Yooz platform has seen over 100 million invoices from more than a million vendors. This means that the system will be able to capture and make sense of more than 80% of all incoming invoices right from the start without any additional configuration.
The Yooz platform is also experienced with a broad range of ERPs providing users with a built-in flexibility that helps streamline the invoice processing system.
But what happens once the data has been extracted? Is it really that simple to customize the workflow?
Routing and Remote Approval: The Beauty of Invoice Automation Software
Thanks to automation software, business accounting is ongoing, and invoicing is a process that continues 24/7 once the necessary parameters have been set. Consider the next stage in the invoice process: routing and remote approval.
For example, should invoices be routed to one person for approval or to a group of people? Should they receive those invoices in a certain order? What happens when one person is out of the office for an extended period, say on maternity leave, versus a team member who is absent for only a few days?
A quality technology platform lets you set up and change processing parameters with only a few clicks. In fact, an automated invoice processing system solution should also make it easy to adjust spending thresholds that trigger different requirements for approval. This includes defining which team members can access a particular type of document, perhaps even broken down further by groups of suppliers or key vendors.
Placement and Use: Making It Happen
Great! Now you know that an automated invoice processing system can be both flexible and customizable. It can also be easy to use once the system is in place. But how about the time to reach this point? Is the implementation process for such a system straightforward and painless?
Two phrases: ease of implementation and ease of use.
In general, you can expect the implementation process to be straightforward and painless. However, each company is different and there is no overall answer to fit every circumstance. With Yooz you can expect knowledgeable support that will help guide your business through the implementation process in the most time-efficient manner. This same level of support is ongoing once the system is up and running.
No Growing Pains with Smart Invoice Processing Software
Its normal for businesses to change and grow. It's also normal for this growth to require modifications in processes (such as in the automated invoice processing system). For example, let’s assume that a company plans to acquire or merge with another business which may have a different software in place. Perhaps it even still relies on a mostly manual workflow.
Your platform of choice should allow the AP team to quickly onboard its new colleagues while still respecting the established workflows. After all, one of the goals of an automated system is to account for and reduce conflicts. For this reason, its usually unnecessary to delay implementations until an acquisition or merger is completed. Adjustments such as escalation rules or skipping an approval step to adjust for a growing back office only takes a few clicks.
Just in case there are questions or updating a workflow proves more difficult than expected, customer service staff is available to jump in.
How Automated Invoice Processing Software Takes the Small Stuff off Your Plate
The Yooz dashboard has an intuitive interface that any AP staff versed in manual processes (or even the art of the spreadsheet) will easily understand. A particular benefit to this is that all information gathered from the invoices and invoice process is quickly available at your fingertips. This increased visibility and ease of use has multiple benefits, freeing the AP staff from:
- Having to spend time identifying roadblocks
- Reviewing and approving every single invoice. Only invoices that the software flags as exceptions will be escalated to human review. These include those that don’t meet criteria such as 3-way matching or present limits, including incomplete documents, duplicates, or potentially fraudulent submissions.
- Searching for specific documents or answers to supplier inquiries. Since every invoice is indexed by AI, finding a particular entry is as easy as using a search engine in your browser. All invoices and corresponding purchase orders are securely stored in the cloud, so staff members can instantly retrieve documents.
Since the AP team usually spends one-quarter of their time fielding vendor inquiries, any time saver is an immediate plus. When that time saver is also easy to use… What’s not to like? Especially when there are additional savings in time, cost, and effort from eliminating the need to lug around boxes of paper or paying for precious storage space.
Invoice Automation Software Makes Your AP Team Happy
With all the above it comes as little surprise that a business running intelligent automated invoice processing systems such as Yooz’s report higher job satisfaction rates for their AP teams. Instead of shuffling paper, they suddenly have their hands (and heads) free to focus on the important tasks with a higher value-add like managing relationships with your key suppliers or sharing real-time financial intelligence with other departments.
Invoice Automation Software Makes Your Management Happy
While satisfied employees create a positive work environment, the fact that an automated invoice processing systems saves on costs should make any business management happy. For example, Yooz can capture, review, and route invoices for approval and payment in record time. This typically results in 80% lower processing costs per invoice including cycle times measured in days (not weeks).
Automated invoice processing has another key benefit. It drastically reduces the number of exceptions staff must deal with, weeding out errors and mistakes that can lead to erroneous or duplicate payments. A streamlined workflow all the way through payment also means capturing all early-pay discounts and tapping a new venue stream with cash-back from using virtual credit cards for electronic payments.
Ever since the pandemic led to thinned-out staff and work-from-home mandates, an automated and customizable workflow can make the difference between staying open for business or accumulating piles of unprocessed invoices that will delay payments, incur late fees, and risk annoying key suppliers.
Being able to customize the workflow and to change it as necessary in response to need needs is crucial. After all, with the right AP workflow, everybody is in the flow.