Once you've decided to move forward with your financial digital transformation plan, you'll need to determine the right software for your specific needs. However, this - selecting the best automated invoice processing software for you - can be a truly daunting task. After all, the current market for automated accounts payable systems is growing by the day, and it can be confusing knowing where to start.
There are tools that do part automation, full automation, and others with no automation at all. Some may seamlessly integrate into your current ERP or financial system while others not at all. Some may need tailored deployments to make them work, which takes time, while others will require personalised training. Features, options, billing, plan... The selection is enormous and to a certain extent, endless.
To give some guidance, we asked ourselves why businesses would need to automate their invoice processing in the first place and then compiled a list of the key attributes needed to make sure you choose the best automated invoice processing software for your business.
Automated invoice processing - what’s all the fuss about?
The first question is why automate my invoice processing at all? Put simply, manual invoicing processes are time-consuming, expensive, error-prone, and vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The manual process involves creating invoices, sending them to suppliers, reviewing and matching details, following-up in the case of late payments, and ultimately approving payments. This entire process eats up a large amount of time for accounting and finance departments, taking anywhere from 22 to 35 days to fully process a single invoice by hand.
In addition, manual-based processes also don’t provide a perfect audit trail, and it can quickly become confusing as to who created, dealt with, or approved invoices (especially when dealing with multiple suppliers or projects). This kind of faulty record keeping can then easily lead to non-compliance issues based on Making Tax Digital (MTD) legislation and regulations.
The savior in this scenario has undoubtedly been the development of technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and automation, all working together to decrease the amount of time and problems faced by manual invoice processing. What’s more, switching to automated invoice processing can lead to significant cost savings. Where a paper invoice would typically cost a business around £7 to process on average, a digitised automated invoice can cost just £2 - with average savings of around 50-75% when compared to manual processing. For businesses processing hundreds or thousands of invoices every month, the savings can quickly add up.
Additional benefits of automated invoice processing can be found in a significant reduction in the chance of human error and fraud (increased accuracy and security), instant access to data (improving management decision-making ability), and for cloud-based SaaS service there is anytime mobile access such as through a phone or tablet (so no approval delays).
What makes the best automated invoice processing software?
Now that the benefits of having an automated process are clearer and all of the obstacles resulting from manual processing eliminated, how do you go about choosing an automated invoice processing software supplier? After all, there is a large array of technology available on the market and it's growing by the day.
To help alleviate the headache of trying to figure it all out, here is a list of important factors to consider when scouring the market for the solution that best fits your specific needs:
It is important to know your business needs before beginning your search for automation software. After all, if you don't know what obstacles exist or what you need to accomplish, it becomes infinitely more difficult - and potentially costly - to invest in any kind of new technology.
Take the time to speak to stakeholders in the Accounts Payable (AP) process and try to identify both their existing pain points and wish lists. What kind of features do you need to have? Do you transact in multiple currencies? Do you have existing software which will need integration? What software are your competitors using?
Asking these types of questions will help you to identify provider criteria as well as help employees be more open to new possibilities.
Effective automation software has a rapid return on investment (ROI) however determining a budget for software means knowing the costs that you will need to pay up front as well as any possible future expenses. The ideal platform will be agile, easily conforming to business growth and needs but you should determine your ideal pricing structure. Would you prefer a tiered pricing structure or per user? Is the contract flexible or fixed? What features are included for free versus having an additional cost?
You should be able to easily identify your software integration requirements. Most platforms know that it's important that a solution fits around the client's business - not the other way around - especially since in today's digital age many companies have and are using some form of existing enterprise software.
Since a company which wants to stay competitive should adopt full-on AP automation software, that software should already be capable of being fully integrated with any existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or financial system. If not, it could be an expensive and time-consuming process to tailor the solution or replace other systems entirely.
That said, a seamless and painless automated invoice processing integration is no cookie-cutter scenario. The automation platform should have a team of experts, engineers, and even customer support specialists to help with the entire integration process.
Any new tool needs time to get used to, especially one as important as this. Some tools may need specific training in order to get set up, which takes time and may cost extra in the process. Cloud-based tools, however, are typically easier, faster and more efficient when it comes to training up your team, meaning staff can start realising the benefits of automated invoice processing almost immediately.
Its importance to emphasize the ease of user experience as this will help with digital adoption and employee confidence in the tool. Most automation software is fairly straightforward to use however, regardless, a reputable automation provider should have training as part over the overall package offered to their clients.
The risk of fraud and theft when dealing with payments will never disappear, but it’s important that any new solution does not increase this risk to your business. Automating the invoice process guarantees total security and traceability of daily operations.
With a cloud-based solution, there’s also no need for additional security and data privacy safeguards if employees are working remotely, as most solutions will come with user authentication, role/user-based permissions, and readily available audit information.
Be sure that whatever software you implements helps you to stay in compliance with evolving Making Tax Digital (MTD) and e-invoicing legislation and regulations.
With an automated invoice processing solution like Yooz, you have full confidence that your approval process will run smoothly and your financial data will stay secure. Our platform is also regularly and vigorously tested for new vulnerabilities by external auditors to prevent any security breach to give you peace of mind. Reach out today for a free demonstration.