Despite everything that’s gone on this year – and you don’t need to be reminded – you have many exciting opportunities to boost your business and come out stronger.
You can achieve this by taking smart steps to rebuild, improve and strengthen your business for long-term prosperity – starting now.
Begin by focusing on streamlining manual business processes that are costing your company time and money such as paper-based accounts payable (AP) and payment processes.
Automating your AP could go a long way towards transforming your businesses for future growth, especially if you’re still buried in the same paper and inefficiencies you’ve been trying to escape for months, maybe even years.
By making this shift, you can gain more visibility, security and control over cash flow, and pivot your team from pushing paperwork to driving more value.
AP automation cuts time to process invoice from 10 days to three
You cut costs by eliminating postage and paper, plus all the time spent issuing, reviewing, scanning, handling and processing paper invoices. According to Ardent Partners, automation shaves the time it takes to process an invoice from 10 days to three.
Shortening this time transfers into tangible savings. Using automated processes, companies can save 90 percent on the AP side, according to a Sterling Commerce study. The time and cost saving benefits of AP can directly drive financial growth for your business.
With this in mind, let’s dive deeper into six specific ways AP automation can make this happen.
Six ways AP automation ignites business growth
One: AP automation provides a central hub for all your payment related files
You don’t want to be sifting through filing cabinets hunting for payment and invoice information. It’s inefficient. You need the information fast. You’ll want to quickly access any payment-related file with the click of a button.
Using AP automation solves this problem. It provides a cloud-based, central repository of easy-to-find information so you don’t have to rely on those file cabinets. And because it’s in the cloud, any employees authorized to use the information can access it anytime on any electronic device from wherever they are.
Two: Anytime, anywhere access to view and approve invoices
In a manual process, reviewing and approving invoices can take days and include many different approvers dispersed in different locations. Waiting on approvals slows the payment process, which could lead to late payments and strained relationships with customers, vendors and suppliers.
If you’re not in the office, which is so much more prevalent during these rare times, the level of difficulty increases.
With AP automation, you don’t have to be in a specific place to approve invoices and make payments. Internet access is all you need to view and approve payments and invoices from your laptop or smartphone.
Three: You can create customized, automated workflows
AP automation allows you to create custom workflows with both rules and restrictions. These eliminate the hassle of constantly reaching out to different individuals for approvals every month. Instead, you gain control and visibility over the process.
If a team member is out of the office or unable to work, your AP team can reroute approvals to different internal colleagues so business continues as usual. And all historical actions and comments are recorded, so the new approver can step in without missing a beat or detail. This speeds up the entire process.
Four: Reports are just a few clicks away
Saddled by a manual process, the AP department would waste too much time – in some cases hours – pulling piles of paper out of file cabinets to get an overall picture of the company’s finances.
With AP automation, none of that is necessary. Automation simplifies the process by providing comprehensive search and reporting tools. This makes it quicker and easier to gain data to make strategic business decisions when you’re under pressure and don’t have access to resources typically available to you.
Five: Electronic payments provide easy alternatives to paper checks
Businesses have plenty to be concerned about and many new challenges to overcome. You might assume eliminating paper checks and invoices does not rank high on their list of priorities.
But that’s not the case. According to the Ardent Partners survey, more than one-third (38 percent) of respondents said eliminating paper invoices and reducing manual tasks rank among their top priorities. Similarly, more than one-fourth (28 percent) say eliminating paper checks makes the list of their biggest priorities. And 31 percent said one of their top challenges is “too much paper.”
By using e-payment options, you can continue paying suppliers even in times where person-to-person delivery of physical checks isn’t feasible.
Six: Service teams can help improve your supplier relationships
The best automation solutions combine dedicated service teams with software to take on the tedious task of keeping up with supplier payment preferences. That’s a lot to keep track of on a constant basis.
In today’s economic conditions, leaving this tedious work to automation becomes especially appealing. You’ll have a trusted AP ally who will continue to maintain contact with your suppliers to see how, if at all, their acceptance conditions are evolving. You’ll be able to make sure they’re receiving and processing your payments.
For you and your business, these are special times. Having the time to rethink your business strategy and redeploy resources can be a rarity in normal years as higher priorities consume more of your attention. But this year is different. You can do these things and take this time to weigh the pros and cons of shifting to an automated process.
How do you boost your business this year?
Look at what’s available to you. Evaluate your options. Be willing to consider that maybe you need to stop using paper for payments and invoices.
If you make this move now, you will spark your business to higher levels of growth while improving customer, vendor, and supplier relationships – all so important in these extraordinarily dynamic economic times.
Want to learn more? Check out how to boost your business with AP automation and AvidXchange.