Paperless accounts payable processes can sound like an intimidating transition. In an accounts payable department that is already pressed for deadlines, how are employees supposed to handle an entirely new document management system and workflow? Luckily, with technology such as batch document scanning and AP automation software, moving to paperless invoice processing isn't nearly as difficult as it seems, and the benefits quickly outweigh any hurdles during the switch.
AP teams have found that moving into a paperless AP process has a huge host of positive effects on their workflow. Getting rid of paper invoices, purchase orders, approvals, checks, and other related documents not only saves employees time but saves the company money. AP departments can function more efficiently, avoid more risk, and more quickly vendor invoices through a more fully digital accounting system.
Why go with a paperless accounts payable system
There are a significant host of reasons why your accounting and business processes should consider moving to a paperless system. Streamlined workflows, more visibility for audits, and faster approval processes are just a few reasons why a paperless platform can empower your team.
Reduce processing costs
Paperless AP systems save companies significant amounts of money on processing and labor costs. Paper processing takes more time and costs more money due to things like manual data entry and mailing items to suppliers. Some accounts payable automation software expedites this even further, not only allowing for more effortless digital capturing but automatically using optical character recognition (OCR) and data indexing to automate more of the electronic invoice processes.
Save on storage costs
Cabinets and drawers full of paper can start to get expensive quickly. Off-site storage can rack up hefty fees for your company, while storing these documents in-house takes up valuable space that your company can use for other purposes. On top of physical storage pricing, consider the additional costs for the destruction and handling of these documents and the risks associated with fully physical documents without digital backups.
Fully digital payment processes give you access to a selection of accounting software that can help provide faster processing for your team. From direct integration into your ERP to AP automation solutions, powerful technology can help your team efficiently process any document. As your team expedites vendor invoices, your company can benefit from early payment discounts, smoother transactions, and fewer late fees.
Better internal controls and compliance
Using paperless systems means automated tracking of approved invoices and other approval workflows. Digital audit trails are collected for every transaction in real-time, and you can set permissions to create robust controls. A company can easily pull invoice data, not only helping companies have a more clear view of their cash flow but making audit compliance easy. There are no real ways to secure documents within a paper system, and documents like POs can easily be misplaced, leading to compliance problems.
How a paperless accounts payables system works
Now that you are aware of the benefits of a paperless AP system, you may be ready to make the jump. Before picking a route, it can help to understand how different tech stacks and programs work. Knowing what advantages will be the most crucial to your team, you can better pick software that will empower your team.
Receive and log incoming invoices
For some automation systems such as Routable, you can email, scan, or upload any bill or batch file to allow your team to log one or thousands of invoices and payments. This simplified logging requires significantly less manual intervention than paper methods, saving time and effort for your team.
Some systems allow you to easily tag those who need to approve invoices, giving you immediate alerts. You can customize approval rules for your company's unique workflow and needs, no matter how complicated or straightforward your invoice approval process is. Once a document is approved, you will receive a notification so that you can continue with the invoicing process.
Automation software can help you match your invoices to their corresponding documents, such as POs and other similar documentation. With 3-way matching, you can keep your audit trail complete and make referencing documents in the future much simpler.
Create an invoice voucher
AP tools can help you create automated invoice vouchers, saving your team time from manually creating this documentation. Matching vendor invoices with POs by hand by searching through stacks of paper documents and then making an invoice voucher can dig into employee's time, especially with a high volume of invoices.
How to implement a paperless accounts payable system
Once you have decided what processes are the most significant pain points for your team, it is time to start considering your implementation process. Sometimes your new software will have tools to help facilitate your switch, such as direct ERP integration or bulk API to help upload invoices. While making the technological change is essential, getting your team and stakeholders involved is also critical to a smooth process.
Plan out an implementation process
In preparation for your transition, it helps to take stock of your current AP processes. Finding out where your existing workflow is working great and where it slows down your team can help you to understand how to move forward in your new paperless system. Decide your major goals for the transition by talking with those involved and figuring out what you want to achieve. Examining these crucial parts of your existing process can help you invest in the right AP software for your team.
Once you know how you want to move forward, it is time to consider logistics. Plan out an estimated ROI on time saved with automation and other software tools to start to create a budget. Knowing how much money you have to invest in your transition can create a more feasible list of potential systems to consider.
Get key stakeholders involved
The first step to a successful start-up to any new project is getting stakeholders on board. Even if your whole team agrees unanimously on the way forward, your rollout may face resistance from technology departments and C-Suite executives. Getting support from the top level to the bottom will be essential to a smooth process.
Getting your team excited about the new software and processes will be easier as many of the positive effects directly will help their workflows, and they will recognize that. Upper-level management will be concerned with ROI, so come prepared with proof that this investment will be positive for the company financially and in terms of risk reduction. You may have to get the technology team on board depending on who is in charge of new software throughout the company, though convincing them that paperless is ideal may not be difficult.
Scan and convert existing paper documents
Here is the hardest part of the transition - uploading all of your current paper documents. Scanning in all of your current paper documents may be a long-term project, so starting on it early can help prevent a rush as rollout comes around the corner. Having your team dedicate some time to a scanning project every day can help get things ready and make the paperless process much more manageable.
Select an AP automation tool
There are many AP automation tools out there, however not all have a strong host of features that will address your team's concerns. Make sure to look at your identified pain points from the beginning of your process, and ensure that the automation tools you consider address those concerns directly. Routable allows for not only friction-free accounts payable automation but also accounts receivable automation. Through easy tracking, payment through multiple methods, and the ability to sync with your accounting software, Routable has a host of tools to help your accounting team turn paperless and take advantage of all that automation has to offer.
Scale your accounts payable workflows
Planning for growing into the future is an essential part of adding new technology to your team. Ensure that any technology you choose supports your team now but can also scale to help your company as it expands. Scalable APIs, the ability to batch significant invoice processes, and the ability to take on more accounting team members are all vital features you should consider as you think about the potential needs of your company in the future.
Go paperless with Routable
Routable helps empower your team with automation tools and features to allow them to go paperless without so much stress. By clearing up time for your team that is often spent manually handling invoices and approvals, your team can focus on things like risk reduction and vendor relationships. With Routable, your team will gain access to:
Routable has a sophisticated API for bulk processing. As your move paperless, Routable will make the process easier by allowing AP to work your way. You can choose between emailing invoices, scanning them, or uploading the individual item or even batch files. Through streamlined API workflows, your team can process one payment or thousands depending on your team's needs.
Routable helps automate your accounts payable and your accounts receivable, depending on your needs. By connecting directly with your accounting software, Routable helps digitize your processes without having to change your entire tech stack. Stay in sync with your accounting software and ensure that data doesn't get lost between your software stacks.
Scales with your payment volume
With Routable's accounting integration and powerful API, your team is empowered to handle any amount of invoices, whether hundreds or thousands. Through easy multiple payment methods, efficient payment tracking, and streamlined approval process automation, Routable can help your team no matter the demand.
Using Routable, customers saw 40% saved on the cost of bill payments and mass payouts, as well as a 70% reduction in repetitive tasks that can take up a significant portion of your team's time. Routable integrates directly into your current workflow, helping employees work better in whatever ways they prefer. Automation makes managing your AP more efficient while providing the power of scalability through API technology.
To learn more about how Routable can help you go paperless, contact us for a demo.