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Completing the ‘Last Mile’ of AP Automation

If you’ve ever run a long-distance race, you know that the last mile can be the hardest. 

The same holds true for accounts payable (AP) automation.

While most AP departments have gained some efficiencies by automating parts of their invoice-to-pay lifecycle, few have completely automated their operations and maximized their human capital.  

That was clear from the comments made by many attendees during the recent REQUORDIT Summit.  Approximately 35 users of REQUORDIT solutions and services, representing organizations of all sizes and across many industries, gathered in-person, May 12-13, for educational presentations, product updates, breakout sessions, and peer networking at the Sable hotel at Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Most of the users in attendance shared that their organization has automated at least part of its AP process, with workflow approvals and document archival being the most deployed technology. 

Yet attendees admitted that processing invoices and paying suppliers remained top priorities for improvement.  AP processing was too time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly, they shared.  In many cases, organizations manually capture invoice data and pay suppliers using paper checks.   

The root of the problem is that these organizations haven’t completed the ‘last mile’ of automation.

The benefits of end-to-end AP automation

AP departments must automate their entire invoice-to-pay lifecycle – from invoice receipt and data capture through payment and reconciliation – if they hope to fully optimize their operations.

Until recently, it’s been hard for most AP departments to full automate their operations.

For starters, on premise capture solutions require a big capital outlay for license fees and complicated scanners, open-ended professional services contracts, onerous annual maintenance fees, and a willingness to undergo a long and potentially risky implementation that will burdens IT resources.

Traditional approaches to automating supplier payments haven’t made things much easier.  Whether it’s a bank or a Fintech, many of these solutions offer half-hearted attempts at migrating suppliers to electronic payments.  As a result, AP departments are left with middling rates of supplier adoption, card rebates that fall short of expectations, and a disheartening number of payments made by check.

But cloud-based capture and electronic payments solutions are making it easier for AP departments of all sizes to complete the last mile of automation and fully realize the benefits of digitization. 

Speakers at the REQUORDIT Summit explained how cloud-based capture solutions overcome the enormous challenges of on premises systems.  Cloud-based capture solutions can be deployed fast, without impacting existing processes and procedures, and without burdening an organization’s IT team.  AP staff can be trained while they work from home.  Users pay for what they use, as they go, eliminating the hurdle of big upfront capital expenses.  Advanced configuration tools and pre-built integrations with leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions and accounting systems make it possible for organizations to be up and running fast, often within hours.  And guaranteed results for capture accuracy ensure an AP department won’t be bogged down with time-consuming exceptions. 

Cloud-based payment solutions provide efficiencies once an invoice is ready to be paid.  Users upload a single file with approved invoice information to a secure cloud.  The technology parses the information and pays suppliers in their preferred format, including virtual card and Automated Clearing House (ACH).  Unlike traditional bank and Fintech approaches to migrating from paper checks, providers of leading cloud-based payment solutions take on the responsibility of migrating suppliers to electronic payments and supporting them every step along the way.  For instance, the technology provider manages any changes to a supplier’s bank account details and helps resolve any exceptions.  And the provider uses analytics and other tools to identify opportunities to migrate suppliers from checks to electronic payments.  As a result, AP departments can achieve higher adoption of electronic payments, optimal rebates on card spend, and lower operations overhead.

Combining cloud-based data capture and payment solutions with the legacy content management system already employed by many REQUORDIT Summit attendees provides a foundation for end-to-end AP automation.  Not surprisingly, the idea of completing the last mile of automation was extremely compelling to REQUORDIT Summit attendees.  Many were eager to learn more.

Don’t settle for partial solutions to your AP processing challenges. 

If your AP department wants to complete the last mile of automation, contact us today.

Wether you missed out on REQUORDIT Summit or you just want a recap of its most important moments, this WEBINAR is your chance to catch up with everything that went down during REQUORDIT’s annual event! 

Mark Brousseau

Mark Brousseau

Over the past 26 years, Mark Brousseau has established himself as a thought leader on accounts payable, accounts receivable, payments and document automation. A popular speaker at industry conferences and on webinars and podcasts, Brousseau advises prominent end-users and solutions and services providers on how to use automation to improve document- and payments-driven business processes. Brousseau has chaired numerous educational conferences and has served on several industry committees and boards. He resides in Center City Philadelphia with his wife and three sons.

@markbrousseau

Mark Brousseau

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