Should you get an accounts payable automation solution, or shouldn't you? That’s no longer even the question! It has become inevitable. But automate what? And how? And what are the effects of not taking the initiative to learn more and utilize AP automation software? The truth is, staying uneducated and delaying the journey toward streamlining your AP department’s invoice processing can cost you in more ways than you think. Being overwhelmed is natural, but the good news is you can release some of that stress because you don’t have to figure all of this out on your own. Our AP experts at Yooz will share their expertise to guide you through making an informed decision when selecting the right AP automation solution for your business.
How to select an accounts payable automation solution starting from scratch
Many businesses are under the impression that all they need to do is randomly choose an AP automation provider then they’re free to never think about it again without dedicating a lot of time into the process. But, putting in effort to diligently think through your options, pinpointing the issues in your current AP process, and giving your finance leadership team time out of their day to solely focus on what it will take to automate your AP process, is nonnegotiable. Taking these initial steps are the gateway to a smoother transitioning process and receiving the best return on investment. Just saying you have an accounts payable system does nothing for your AP department if it’s not addressing the inefficiencies you currently have and will only decrease ROI while frustrating employees because their job became harder.
Now that you’re ready to commit to the extensive process of finding the state-of-the-art AP automation solution that will address all your company’s pain points and increase ROI, you need to know the right questions to ask your team and the vendor. Get representation from every tier in the finance department (if possible) to collaborate and assist in this game-changing decision when choosing an AP automation vendor. Those questions are:
- What are the business goals your team wants to achieve and the pain points that need to be solved when automating your AP workflow?
- Establish your KPIs. What do you want to measure?
- Know what kind of ERP/Financial Management System your firm is using.
- Document and/or map out your AP workflow (invoice processing) from the receipt of an invoice, GL assignment, approvals, and payment, to storage of documents. What happens after approvals are complete? Include specific examples.
- What part of your invoice processing workflow is costing your firm the most time and money?
- Would an end-to-end cloud-based AP automation solution be best for your firm?
- Identify how many invoices you process per month and how many approvers there are throughout the workflow.
Why you should choose a cloud-based solution and the right questions to ask the vendor
One of the questions we suggested you ask your team is “would an end-to-end cloud-based AP automation solution be best for your firm.” Since cloud-based technologies are just gaining popularity, companies tend to fear their reliability versus the “tried and true” on-premise solutions. If you do a little more research, you will learn that that is further from the truth. Cloud technology allows you to access, approve or send back, and see the status of documents at every stage of the invoice and payment processing workflow, around the clock, 24/7. The documents stored in the Cloud are secure from unwanted eyes because they can only be accessed by those with login credentials, whether it be to view only or approve. Users are also able to see the history of the document, who has accessed it, who has approved, where it is in the workflow. No more paper documents exposed at all stages in the process. No more lost documents. These are just a few capabilities that set could-based solutions apart from on-premise AP.
Cloud-based solution advantages
- No IT cost to implement.
- Quick to implement, simple to setup.
- Private space for each customer, dedicated cloud provider and secured protocols/processes.
- Flexible in serving unique needs.
- All inclusive, subscription based.
- Frequent new features included.
On-premise solution drawbacks
- High upfront implementation cost.
- Long implementation, complex setup.
- In house data storage that’s less equipped to reduce the chances of security breaches.
- Tailored solution, one size fits all.
- One-time fixed cost, plus annual maintenance and support fees.
- Additional cost and time for routine maintenance and upgrades.
But there is more to choosing a cloud-based solution. You should understand the technologies that make the AP automation solution possible, at least on a high level. You can have the smartest, powerful technologies in the world for your accounts payable, but if you don’t know what they are and why you need them then they’ll be useless and do more harm than good.
For instance, we hear a lot about OCR (optical character recognition)—a technology that turns a picture into words—in AP automation. It is an important characteristic. Even more important is the next layer, smart data extraction, a technology that “understands” and processes the text from the OCR to transform it into relevant data. As many of you are exploring AP automation providers, you may ask, “Do you have OCR technology?” Good question. But what you really want to know is if the solution has a complete technology, combining OCR, smart data extraction, and machine learning.
Some providers might claim OCR, but then apply human extraction, outsourcing to a third party—also called third-party verification. OCR extraction that layers human verification uses people to input data read by the OCR into predefined fields. In this scenario data entry is done by an outsourced firm and takes time as the data is being populated by people, typically 24 to 72 business hours and risks costly mistakes. That’s why you need to choose Yooz, a complete, end-to-end, AP automation solution hosted in the cloud that doesn’t allow third-party outsourcing.
Questions Yooz’s experts will ask you:
Our AP Specialists are dedicated to learning about your pain points and solving those problems with Yooz’s unique, customizable platform. We want to make sure you get everything you need to increase productivity and multiply your ROI while keeping your data highly secure. Some of the questions our AP specialists will ask are:
- What prompted you to investigate automating your firm’s invoice and payment processing? In other words, what pain points are you hoping to solve?
- What is your ERP/financial system?
- How many AP clerks do you have processing invoices today? In how many locations? And are you centralized—all invoices being processed in one location—or decentralized?
- How many invoices do you process per month?
- Do you currently outsource the opening, scanning, and coding of your invoices?
- Do you process Purchase Orders/Purchase Requisitions (POs/PRs)? If so, what percentage of invoices require a PO/PR?
- What does your approval routing process look like?
- Do invoices ever slip through the cracks, get lost, delayed being approved, or misplaced? How often?
- After processing, how are invoices sent to your ERP system and/or stored?
- Are you also looking to automate payments?
- Are you currently taking advantage of early payment discounts and/or negotiating early payment discounts from your suppliers/vendors?
- Who are the project team members and key decision maker(s) involved in your AP automation discovery process?
- What is the number one thing you wish you could have in a system that automates your invoice processing and payments?
- Have you ever investigated/documented how much time and how much it costs to process an invoice through your enterprise? If so, how do you hope to improve?
10 Best practices that Yooz follows as a first-rate technology leader
Yooz has 10+ years of experience providing excellent service to our 4,000 customers and counting and we want to do the same for you. We go above and beyond to follow and consider these best practices in everything we do:
- Ease of integration with accounting packages, ERP and CRM: by its very nature, we believe an AP automation solution must coexist with other software – often heterogeneous – that is already in place. Coexistence must be transparent for users, particularly with respect to exporting data which is why we currently integrate with 250 financial systems.
- Automation of the data entry and invoice validation process, including multichannel capture (via e-mail, cell phone, supplier portal, mail...) of all document types (including invoices, orders, delivery slips...), regardless of the format (paper, PDF, EDI...): the solution must cover all processes and workflows in order to maximize performance.
- End-to-end traceability, with security and archives for all operations: we offer users authentication mechanisms as well as secure classification and electronic archiving that we believe is a mandatory feature no matter how large or small the company is.
- Mobile options for using Yooz: users need to be able to benefit from Yooz regardless of where they may be or their work context.
- Elaboration of dashboards to enable precise control and anticipate, for example, variations in the volume of automated invoices.
- Compliance with current and future regulations: Yooz guarantees compliance, particularly with respect to the relatively frequent changes in the accounting and financial sector.
- Automatic detection of anomalies, such as identifying irregular monetary amounts and falsified documents.
- The quality of support and assistance provided by Yooz, including an easily accessible hotline and web chat, as well as help with setup and user training.
So, should you invest in a cloud-based AP automation software? We believe the answer is yes! By trusting in Yooz to provide a highly customizable, easy to use, reliable cloud-based AP automation solution that leverages smart technologies, you’ll be well on your way to fixing your company’s pain points and your AP department will be able to focus on more value-added tasks.