9 mins read


Invoice Management Software as a Transformation Solution

by Yooz the 10.31.2022

electronic invoice system

Ask businesses about their IT outlook and you will get a decidedly cloudy answer. Between the sudden rush into remote and hybrid work environments after the pandemic hit and then, as a result, pushed into more online project collaboration, businesses are looking for ways to streamline their operations. One of main ways they are accomplishing this is through digitization and automation and, even more specifically, organizations are betting on a cloud-based future.

This is not a random bet.

When market researchers from the B2B technology company Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) polled cloud decision makers in 2021, they found that by 2022 50% of all business workloads are expected to run in the cloud. In fact, almost half said their company already follows a “cloud-first” technology strategy. That same determination to innovate also shows up in business expenditures. Gartner reports that companies world-wide are expected to spend nearly £439 billion this year on cloud computing, up a solid 20% from 2021, driven to a large extent by investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

This push to the cloud has additional betters by taking the Making Tax Digital (MTD) and e-invoicing requirements a step further, fulfilling the need for digital operations and increasing data security in a time of growing fraud attacks.

This wish to harness powerful software running in the cloud to empower teams, no matter where and on what devices they work, is a perfect example of how accounting and technology. go hand in glove. Intelligent platforms that handle the accounts payable process from purchase to invoice payment help boost efficiency as well as attract top talent and help companies stay competitive for the long term.


Getting up to speed with automation for invoice management


Automation is certainly the biggest trend in the finance function. Getting rid of as many manual processes as possible in the invoice workflow unlocks a whole range of benefits starting with fewer hours spent on handling paper-based invoices and continuing all the way through to expediting payment. Automating your invoice management process using the right software also reduces the number of data entry mistakes and errors, resulting in fewer exceptions that in turn require labor-intensive corrections. What’s more, automation streamlines the workflow around reviews and approvals all the way through to initiating payments.



Untethered but connected: mobile work calls for invoice management software


The second big trend in invoice management software - mobility - amplifies the movement towards automation. Now more than ever before people are no longer tied to the office, instead expecting the flexibility, convenience, and intuitive ease of use offered by remote work, mobile devices, and apps. Why be stuck in a back office slicing open envelopes, sorting faxes, and keying data into a spreadsheet when you could just have the same information automatically appear on your smartphone or tablet already extracted and verified.

This shift towards mobile invoicing is particularly important when it comes to emerging economies where, due to circumstances such as physical environments, businesses and consumers have leapfrogged the office/desktop era entirely and gone straight into a mobile-based world. In other cases, such as in European Union and the United Kingdom, government legislators even prefer electronic transactions and would like to do away with paper invoices, cash, and checks altogether.

An electronic invoice system is ideally suited for this changing world, able to ace all tasks involved in the invoice management process from inventory tracking and verification through product or service billing and even payment. The system can run all day and night unsupervised, following preset and customized directions. It can receive, acknowledge, identify, and process. After all, you could be on the road, with a client, or working from home but you should still have the tools to get your work done and stay on track, whether it’s creating and sending an invoice or reviewing and approving an invoice from a vendor for payment.


All-in-one gets it done: why you need a cloud-based end-to-end invoicing platform


While having an electronic invoice system is key to streamlining the invoice process, is it enough to just automate part of the process? Certainly, in this case part is better than having no automation at all. However, to be truly efficient and optimize the accounts payable workflow, an end-to-end system outperforms a manual or semi-automated workflow in every aspect. This allows you to truly experience the benefits of invoice management software. And, in this new world, this type of capability - scalable, secure, fast, and cost-efficient - resides in the cloud.

A cloud-based platform features capabilities such as easy mobile access (from anywhere at any time), low-cost maintenance (which often transfers to customers in the form of easily scalable, affordable monthly plans), plus secure and scalable storage. Most important, using a cloud-based platform levels the playing field for businesses of all sizes who now have access to the same technology and capabilities.

Cloud-based invoicing software purpose-built for AP automation not only packs all the front-end capabilities required to automatically capture invoices, extract relevant information without human handholding, review and route documents to the right people, and send out payments, it is easily able to deliver these capabilities to where and when an AP professional needs them. The cloud provides another key, secure feature on the backend - one equally important to just saving time and money. Invoice by invoice, end-to-end invoice management software creates a digital audit trail and live data archive, one that the business can query for all kinds of financial questionsl. Whether it’s about reviewing a specific purchase order (PO), drilling into the lifetime relationship with a key supplier, or building a report for the CFO, invoice management software is the key to real-time financial intelligence.

As if all that wasn't good enough, a modern electronic invoice system and end-to-end automation platform integrates with a company’s existing ERP or accounting software to reconcile invoices and payments with the information housed in those databases. No more silos, but a seamless flow of information that everyone can tap into, according to their roles and permissions.




Machine learning gives e-invoicing superpowers


While technology has already led to massive improvements in business operations, it also serves as a constant reminder that nothing stays static. Finance professionals can be on a continuing rise of cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools that empower the AP team to process more invoices faster and at a much lower cost but all with a higher accuracy. In fact, automated end-to-end invoicing software has been proven to process and invoice at up to 80% cost savings in hours or minutes rather than weeks or even days. All without any compromises when it comes to fraud and duplicate detection. Three-way matching, for example, uses a combination or robotic process automation for simpler tasks around invoice handling and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms for more complex operations such as reading, understanding, and verifying each document's details. It can reliably detect anomalies and missing data even when an organization handles thousands of invoices. After all, software is simply better at quick pattern recognition and sifting out outliers that deserve closer inspection.

Now imagine that if it can do all of this right now, how much more will it be doing in the future.


Lofty goal, accomplished: “We want a machine that can learn from experience”


Nobody stated the goal of putting AI to work better than English computer scientist Alan Turing: “What we want is a machine that can learn from experience.” Cloud-based invoice management software does exactly that, one invoice at a time.

However, all far-reaching change can also be a bit scary, coming with doubts, worries and pushback. For example, accounting professionals might fear they’ll be replaced by bots that are faster and smarter. True or not, these type of factors can have an enormous impact on business operations so its worth taking these concerns seriously. It needs to be clear that adopting the use of invoice management software does not change the fundamentals of the process itself, nor it is specifically intended to cause unemployment.

Instead, digitization and automation add significant value along the entire workflow including for employees. Rather than spending time doing routine, dull activities such as stacking expense reports and sorting faxes - things not usually high on anyone’s list of daily tasks - employees are free to work on more stimulating and interesting tasks. For example, hunting for the reasons for an invoice exception or reviewing a suspicious document after machine learning algorithms have detected inconsistencies are much more exciting and rewarding. In that sense, invoice management software not only saves your business time and money and makes it more resilient.


RC_Images_Time to Engage


Why invoice management software gives us back time to do meaningful work


By allowing employees to pivot towards more engaging tasks, invoice management software encourage digitalisation throughout the company. It can serve to boost job satisfaction and morale, in turn helping to retain existing workers. It will also help attract the additional bright minds that you want, drawn by a powerful technology platform that augments their professional curiosity with analytical superpowers. Invoice management software sets your team on the course to better manage cash flow and generate returns from working capital, all while never paying an invoice late again.

AI expert Kai-Fu Lee, having done pioneering work for Google and other names in big tech, describes the overarching promise this way in his book AI 2041:

“AI will create efficient services that will give us back our most valuable resource - time. It will take over routine tasks and liberate us to do more stimulating or challenging jobs.”

Now contrast this vision with a person on the AP team who is currently printing and mailing checks by the dozens or hundreds every week. Apart from the fact that it costs to handle a single check, not counting time and money spent on the receiver’s side, cutting checks and posting them is menial labor that automation can handle better and faster.

A purchase-to-pay platform will change the way your team experiences its workday. It’s suddenly easy to invite a supplier to become part of a live business network built around visibility and transparency and far easier to create a solid supplier management system.


Secure and timely payments: another benefit of invoice management software


The final step of the payment process is handled in the same intuitive interface as the preceding parts of the workflow. With an automated purchase-to-payment workflow staff are able to which invoices to pay, choose how much to pay (the full or just a partial amount) and even create a manual or automated payment schedule.

Again, convenience is king because for regularly recurring invoices from vetted vendors, invoice management software has the capability to review, approve, and initiate recurring payments, either for single invoices or batches of invoices. No time-consuming handholding required. At the same time, automation boosts payment security since the system will routinely perform final checks for key metrics such as payment volume and velocity before funds go out. It’s one more reason why fewer errors, duplicate payments or fraud attempts will slip through.

In addition, late payments due to backups in processing invoices and their payments can have a material impact on the relationship with important vendors. A speedier process means paying invoices on time, every time. This improves the relationship between any two entities, building goodwill that you can bank on later.


New revenue streams: another reason to automate your invoice management


Once late payments have been eliminated, easy payments become an option. In fact, businesses can even unlock a new revenue stream thanks to eliminating any late fees or penalties and possibly benefitting from consistent on-time (or even early) payments. In some cases, such as when if vendors choose to get paid by virtual card, the business is able to maintain stronger cash resources since it can hold on to money longer. No more time to write, send, and deposit checks!

Those single-use electronic cards even do more than just offer a cheaper and faster way to settle an invoice, beating paper checks, eChecks, and ACH transactions. They also generate cash-back for each invoice and turn a cost center into a new revenue contributor.

Fewer repetitive tasks, fewer errors, less fraud, significant cost savings, higher job satisfaction, and giving everyone a shot at making a meaningful contribution to the bottom line one invoice at a time. Those are powerful and convincing reasons why invoice management software should be part of every company’s map for the future. Its a journey worth taking.


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