It’s Friday morning. The sales manager reached out—again—to see if they were set to begin ordering from their new vendor, the same new vendor who has yet to send in their on-boarding form. Your primary equipment vendor is waiting for payments from last month’s orders, while the invoice sits on the operation manager’s desk, awaiting approval. To top it off, the CEO sent an email late last night that an end of month reconciliation was needed for an upcoming meeting. Your PTO request sits, neglected, as a draft in your email. The timing never seems quite right.
AP teams are bogged down with manual processes
The accounts payable team is often overlooked and under-appreciated, scapegoats for missed deadlines. Yet, the business-critical processes they oversee keep the company moving forward.
- AP teams nurture vendor relationships, one of the most critical elements to profitability and cash flow. Timely payments encourage good vendor relationships, leading to new product opportunities, pricing discounts and, ideally, improved trade credit terms.
- AP teams micro-focus on critical data entry to prevent payment errors by verifying orders, delivery dates, and payment terms. Accurate, consistent data is necessary for reporting and projecting business growth.
- AP teams seek stakeholder approvals for payments made. Ensuring department accountability for purchases supports effective best practices as the needs of the business evolve.
To safeguard the completion of all tasks, antiquated processes play primary roles to get the job done – eventually. Assigning POs, invoice reconciliation, approvals, payment authorizations—for each item or service procured by your company, multiple steps are enacted to verify the correct item was purchased, in the correct amount, and that those funds are available and can be allocated for payment.
Where delays occur can be as simple as a transposed quantity (meaning an invoice will need to be corrected and resubmitted, starting the process over) or as complex as misunderstandings in negotiated supplier contracts (meaning the supplier relationship may be mismanaged altogether.) In either example, the inaccuracies delay standard AP cycles. And considering that an AP cycle can take weeks from beginning to end, even one inaccuracy—big or small—produces delays, creating a ripple effect into other departments.
A study by IOFM found that AP departments “spend 84% of their time bogged down by a seemingly endless list of manual and semi automated invoice processes, including data capture.” These time-consuming processes aim to provide an accurate account of purchase history, but often result in delayed payments—frustrating other departments and vendors alike. Further, an unavoidable pain point is inaccuracy, or inconsistency, of data entry. Despite AP team attention to detail, studies show 88% of all spreadsheets show some type of error.
What remains is a business oscillating between the need for decisive data, controlled cash flow, and interdepartmental accountability and the reality of strained vendor relationships, stalled growth opportunities, and unreliable data. AP department teams and managers must face this challenge and find a way to restore consistency so that the business can grow.
How AP automation can help
With so much at stake, it’s difficult to know where to even begin to change AP processes. Ineffective processes result in unsound reporting. Delays in processing payments create roadblocks for other departments. At the same time, the influx of work never ends. While you may know there is a need for change, the path to get there feels unachievable.
AP Automation is the key. Rather than reinventing what you do, automation speeds up slow processes and ensures accuracy at critical stages of those processes.
At Routable, we understand the pressure and apprehension of transitioning to automation. We’ve also seen that automation can save time, money, and resources: The very elements that make businesses thrive. Automation creates the possibility of invoices verified without manual data entry, vendors paid on time, and accessibility to reliable reporting, freeing up your AP team and preparing for business growth.
AP automation offers a number of opportunities to streamline processes:
- Routable simplifies bill payments. Upload invoices as .pdf, hardcopy, or forward directly from your inbox.
- Routable does the data entry for you. Tax codes, account numbers, and classes are automatically input into your accounting software.
- Routable prevents delays. Approvals go directly to predetermined decision makers and customized notifications keep the team on the same page.
- Routable pays faster. Schedule payments and pay in a variety of ways.
- Routable offers confidence. Rely on real-time data for payment tracking and tax collection documentation.
With a leadership team that has first-hand experience developing in-house software for AP—and a customer service centered team whose primary focus is ensuring a smooth transition—Routable offers solutions that are both customizable and scalable.
Imagine a Friday morning where that new vendor’s data is already uploaded into your system, you didn’t have to hunt down a business address. The sales manager is beside herself that the install with their new client will be successful. The operations manager has already approved the invoices to your primary equipment vendor, you saw the confirmation email come through while eating your breakfast. In fact, the supplier rep let you know they wanted to set up time with your purchaser to discuss new terms and future discounts. You’ve already been able to send end of month data to your CEO. You just submitted your PTO request.