When it comes to automating the Accounts Payable (AP) process in an organization, too many companies are still held back by a lack of understanding of the available software that can help them boost efficiency, reduce costs and unlock savings.
That’s the conclusion of the new 2020 Payables Insight Report by research and advisory firm Levvel, formerly PayStream Advisors. “Organizations are doing themselves a disservice by not conducting deeper exploration into the AP software marketplace,” its authors write. They recommend companies take a look at a wide variety of providers to ensure they are getting software that best fits their needs.
The annual report takes a deep dive into market trends and highlights current and emerging technologies that will help U.S. firms transition away from manual and time-consuming AP processes. AP Automation done right can free companies from handling paper invoices and data entry and better manage the often error-prone approvals and payments workflow.
Levvel points out that as of 2020:
- Companies of all sizes are incorporating automation into their back offices and can choose from a wide variety of tools.
- Small and medium-size enterprises in particular have boosted their use of AP automation, with more than 40 percent of them saying they are somewhat likely to switch to an AP Automation platform in the next year.
- Supplier portals are driving this transition because they make submitting eInvoices via web upload more common. Supplier portals now account for more than one-fifth of all -invoices received.
- What’s more, the number of SMEs that still rely on a manual approval workflow has decreased by nearly 10 percent.
With the proper AP technology in place, organizations say they have made their invoicing process more efficient. Almost two-thirds of them told Levvel that they can now approve invoices faster, and more than half see improved employee productivity and a reduction in their paper invoice volumes.
The report points out however, that the way to this streamlined scenario still has some roadblocks. Even though companies clearly see the benefits, they do not put enough emphasis on researching and implementing a cloud-based AP Automation software such as Yooz.
Here are the top four barriers:
- a lack of budget
- the belief that current processes work,
- a lack of technical resources to manage an automated solution, and
- not enough knowledge of what tools are available.
Companies that don’t strive to educate themselves on AP Automation risk leaving money on the table. “Cloud-based tools are dynamic, affordable, and flexible, offering technology that enables business agility”, the report states, especially when they’re closely integrated with an existing ERP solution.
AP Automation at its best automatically ingests invoices, extracts relevant data, converts it into a machine-readable format and even builds an invoice pattern for different organizations and invoice types. It can flag problems or suspicious submissions and it routes invoices to the right team members for review and approval, even from their mobile device, drastically shortening cycle times.
That way, a platform like Yooz frees people in the finance department to focus on value-added tasks instead, such as solving exceptions and managing the personal relationship with vendors. When choosing an AP Automation platform, the Levvel report recommends to “seek a partner, not a vendor” to make sure feedback is incorporated into updates and product developments.
The report also points out that leading cloud-based tools increasingly incorporate emerging technologies that streamline the AP function even further. Artificial intelligence and machine learning in particular can improve a host of processes without explicit human intervention. Combine that with big data analytics, and even an SME can identify important trends in a sea of invoices.
If you want to find out what differentiates the best cloud-based AP Automation tools, you can download the whitepaper here: