AP Automation Improves Agility

November 23, 2020

5 min read

Picture of Certify Team

Certify Team

Even in the most stable times, having a clear sight of cash in and outflows is imperative to maintain business agility. Yet many organisations resist change and continue to rely on outdated processes or on-premise technologies. In response, companies are turning to their tech-savvy counterparts to inspire their digital transformation.

Our very own Paul Crowley was joined by renowned analyst and speaker Mark Brousseau, to discuss how employing automation empowers finance teams to become ever more strategic. They shared how technology enhances fiscal responsibility, improves efficiency, and results in happier, more productive employees.

Here are a few highlights from the presentation:

Job functions are shifting globally

The technology revolution has disrupted the way we work. That’s proven by how automation’s reach across industries is freeing humans to focus on more valuable activities.

According to Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the Centre for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum says that manual tasks will be mostly phased out by 2022. Instead, workers will need to be skilful in analytical thinking, innovation, active learning, creativity, collaboration, and complex problem-solving to remain valuable. The time-intensive manual tasks that typically weighed down an employee’s schedule will be replaced by automation.

Data from the Institute of Finance & Management echoes these findings. Their research showed that AP spends 84% of their time processing transactions versus 16% of their energy on value-add activities.

By redefining job functions, you’re able to let your teams become increasingly more valuable. The focus shifts to cultivating skills and human potential so every employee can find opportunities to create more value for their customers and the company. By investing in the right technology to assist this transformation only accelerates your positive gains.

Leverage analytics and industry benchmarks

How can an organisation improve if they lack visibility into spending? Industry benchmarks are an excellent source for establishing a baseline, yet they are only part of the equation. As every enterprise is unique, the real value of spend visibility comes from the strategic insights your finance team can drive.

Research from Ardent Partners The State of ePayables 2019 shows that AP’s top-three biggest pain points were:

  1. A high volume of exceptions
  2. Lengthy approvals and payments
  3. Lack of respect in the organisation

While automation can swiftly address the first two pain points, the third is a bit more nebulous. As the AP department is freed from manual tasks and more able to find opportunities for the company, its eminence grows across the organisation.

By employing automation, you see value almost instantly. Productivity and efficiency gains from automation can lower invoice processing costs by six times and reduce exception rates by nearly 60%. Additionally, invoices are processed 300% faster on average compared with their manual counterparts. In contrast, manual invoice processing can take 10.8 days on average and cost nearly $13 per invoice. Automated solutions costs are much lower, with processing in under three days and almost $2 per invoice.

Actionable ideas for transforming AP

More organisations today need to tighten their budgets while better managing cash inflows and outflows. Without the right tools and processes in place, some are scrambling to bridge the budget gaps.

While it can feel like there is never enough time to undertake a digital transformation initiative for Accounts Payable, the opportunity cost far outweighs any energy and budget expenditures.

The key here is to leverage industry benchmarks as they relate to your CFO and organisation’s mission. Clearly outline your current costs for processing an invoice, including the number of errors and exceptions. This lets you gain a better understanding of how your current methodology is impacting the broader enterprise.

You can then utilise this information to build a supporting case for automation that will gain the attention and admiration of your CFO and co-workers alike.

Contact us to learn practical ways to begin employing automation today and give your organisation a technology-based advantage.