ERP systems are extremely capable masters of all trades. These software suites - often cloud-based - ensure that an organization can handle all aspects of its business processes under a single umbrella. From finance to procurement and project management to supply chain and manufacturing, the ERP is a centralized entry window into all aspects of a business. And, since they are all-encompassing platforms, many businesses make use of the various module options and incorporate the handling of things like human resources or accounting within their ERP solution. Oracle, one of the leading providers of ERP software, calls these solutions “a business's central hub for end-to-end workflow and data.”
Yet the broad capabilities of an ERP system also have a flip side. A generalist - in this case the ERP - often lacks the type of special functionalities and features offered by automated financial systems. That’s particularly true for all the steps involved in handling invoices, from issuing a purchase order to approving invoices and initiating payments.
Oracle Plus AP Automation Gives You Better Results
Thanks to its importance in maintaining a smooth business operation, every business has developed its own workflows around the accounts payables payment process and dealing with suppliers. These are defined by customized number of steps that take into consideration the specific supplier network, cash management goals, and even the availability and location of the AP team.
Even with these steps in place, recurring disruptions during the pandemic drove home the point that many organizations need to speed up their transformation to digitize and automate their entire purchase-to-payment process. While they can perform some of their accounts payable tasks using an existing ERP system, a highly specialized solution that tightly integrates with an ERP suite can make all the difference between just getting by and getting ahead.
Automating your AP workflow - and getting ahead - isn't rocket science when you’re already using Oracle NetSuite. This cloud-based business management platform handles everything from ERP and financials to CRM and e-commerce and even suppliers. Already the platform is used by more than 26,000 organizations globally to help run their entire businesses, improve supplier relations, and boost their performance.
Four Ways an Accounts Payable Platform Improves Your Oracle Experience
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to the special requirements of invoice payment automation. Let’s assume you are already using Oracle as your ERP provider. What are some of the reasons behind how to boost your Oracle Accounts Payable process flow with an outside partner would benefit your company? There are four distinct reasons:
1. It covers the full cycle of the accounts payable process, from purchase to payment
A platform that’s purpose-built for intelligent AP automation keeps track of and handles invoices and other documents from the moment a PO is generated all the way through the payment process. It creates visibility and transparency for the AP team and other departments (as well as for suppliers) all the way through the workflow: intake, approval, exceptions, and payment.
In the process, invoice payment automation generates valuable financial intelligence with data points gleaned from every single invoice that an ERP system might miss. The connection to NetSuite enables real-time information, such as the state of accounts/invoices, approved vendors/suppliers, and overall cost centers to be exchanged between the two systems. The result: get more information, faster, to make better decisions that benefit the entire organization.
2. AP automation is optimized for a paperless workflow
Intelligent accounts payable automation breaks down into five steps that save a business time and money. First comes multichannel capture. No matter in what format an invoice arrives, the AP platform will reliably handle it. Unstructured data contained in paper documents, faxes, photos or email attachments will be converted into a machine-readable format to speed up processing.
Next, machine-learning algorithms in combination with robotic process automation go to work to extract all the important information: supplier name, products or services delivered, amounts, dates and due dates, prices, banking and tax information, even in multiple currencies. All the data is securely indexed and stored in the cloud to make retrieval for later reviews and audits easier. After the software has performed a three-way match to review invoices and weed out errors and fraud attempts documents are then routed along the line for approval.
Unless there’s an exception that calls for a set of human eyes, this entire workflow can be automated for “straight-through processing” with little to no manual intervention. Invoices follow a pre-set, customized distribution with approval followed by payment and the data export to the Oracle ERP system. More on that in a few moments. If there is an exception the system routes the data accordingly and notifies the pre-determined party (basically a type of electronic memo). All this is done without having to worry... Payables transactions and information are accurately captured, correctly accounted for, and fully integrated into the process.
For now, it’s worth pointing out that an Accounts Payable automation platform that is integrated with your Oracle ERP streamlines the workflow and lets you reap substantial benefits. Processing costs per invoice drop by 80%, from more than $12 down to about $2 simply because so many manual steps around handling documents are no longer necessary. What’s more, cycle times shrink from weeks to days or even hours.
Best-in-class organizations are increasingly able to set up payments for invoices the same day. That means late payments and late fees are a thing of the past, while you’ll never miss an early payment discount. It turns your AP function from a traditional cost center into a value driver. In addition, you can leverage these workflow improvements to start a conversation with key suppliers around more favorable terms.
3. AP automation makes sure approvals keep moving even when managers are out of the office
When the main office is understaffed, overworked or even shuttered, AP automation picks up the slack and makes sure things keep running smoothly. That’s because a cloud-based system will automatically route all documents to the right people in the right order for approval. Businesses can set up and tweak their workflow with smart rules to accommodate any kind of temporary disruption or long-term changes.
Another benefit of a cloud-based system is that it holds all the information securely in a single location you can access from anywhere with an internet connection. If somebody is out on short notice, for instance, they can securely access and review invoices on their mobile device, anytime and anywhere. Depending on access permissions, the team is able to drill down and view all related documents remotely and either give the green light for payment or flag it for further review.
In addition, the system can quickly scale alongside the business. Onboarding a new location or having new team members join takes less than an hour, meaning you retain maximum flexibility without sacrificing productivity or creating an invoice backlog. And that’s not all, since…
4. AP Automation lets organizations automate many more AP functions than just approval
While it might be possible to handle the standard invoice approval inside the ERP system, digital invoice approval augments the ERP system offers many more functionalities with added benefits. Take the payments part that is often handled by a separate software with its own interface. But why crimp your productivity and efficiency after you’ve come this far?
An end-to-end platform empowers the AP team to schedule supplier payments right inside the same browser interface they’re already familiar with. The YoozPay module requires just three steps to be done. Select invoices to pay, pick the partial or full amount (taking into account any prepayment or early-payment discounts offered), and finally choosing an automated or manual payment schedule.
Suppliers have it equally easy since they can become part of this business network with just one email address and by choosing their preferred payment method, ranging from paper check to electronic check and accepting payment by virtual credit card. The latter option is not only more secure and offers a detailed digital audit trail, it also creates a new revenue stream. Every invoice the AP team pays with a virtual card generates cash back.
That Syncing Feeling: Why Oracle and AP Automation Are a Perfect Match
Which gets us to the final benefit of combining the power of Oracle ERP with Yooz. Thanks to the seamless integration, every action along the Accounts Payable workflow is automatically and accurately synced with NetSuite.
It delivers unprecedented visibility, automation, and savings to an organization, from purchase to payment and beyond, including images of the relevant documents. Yooz is “Built for Netsuite,” meaning its cloud-based platform meets the stringent development standards and best practices of the Oracle NetSuite SuiteCloud Platform.
In the age of accelerating digital transformation, businesses need such integrated platforms to operate, not just to keep their supply chain running and avoid manufacturing bottlenecks. The finance team beyond the core AP function have come to rely on specialized, automated tools that free up their time to focus on more critical tasks.
Simply put, the less manual labor is tied up in handling invoices, the more your team can apply their unique skills and creativity to make your business more competitive and productive. That’s probably the single most valuable enterprise resource, and with Payables automation, you can finally unlock it.