As more and more companies think about business continuity plans, leaders are focusing on how to maintain processes that are mission critical to keeping the lights on.
Mark accounts payable (AP) at the top of the list, as businesses will have a hard time operating as usual without processing payments to their suppliers. (Like the ones who literally keep the lights on.)
But many companies still rely on manual, paper-based AP processes, which can make it difficult to ensure they run smoothly in case of an emergency.
Fortunately, AP automation can help keep a business moving by ensuring your AP department can continue to approve invoices and make payments securely and efficiently at any time, from any location.
Here are six specific ways AP automation can bolster your business continuity plans.
1. AP automation provides a central hub for all your payment related files
Activating your business continuity plan likely means that you can’t be in the office, sifting through file cabinets. You’ll want to be able to quickly access any payment-related file with the click of a button.
AP automation provides a cloud-based, central repository, so you don’t have to rely on those file cabinets. And because it’s in the cloud, anyone can access it from anywhere.
2. Anytime, anywhere access to view and approve invoices
In a manual process, reviewing and approving invoices can take days and include many different approvers. Waiting on approvals slows down the payment process, which could lead to late payments.
And the level of difficulty multiplies if you’re not in the office.
With AP automation, you don’t have to be in a specific place to approve invoices and make payments. All you need is internet access, and you can view and approve from your phone or laptop.
3. 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 and provide you with control and visibility over the process.
And in case someone is out of the office or unable to work, your AP team can reroute approvals so business continues as usual. As an added benefit, all historical actions and comments are recorded, so the new approver can step in without missing a beat or a detail.
4. Sophisticated reports are just a few clicks away
In a manual process, the AP department would spend a lot of time pulling piles of paper out of file cabinets to get an overall picture of the company’s finances.
Fortunately, AP 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 usual resources.
5. Electronic payments provide easy paper check alternatives
If you’re still leveraging paper checks as a payment form, you may run into trouble during times of crisis. However, with solutions that provide e-payment options, you can continue paying suppliers even in times where person-to-person delivery of physical checks isn’t feasible.
6. Service teams can help improve your supplier relationships
The best automation solutions combine dedicated service teams along with software to take on the tedious tasks of keeping up with supplier payment preferences.
And in today’s environment, this 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, making sure they are receiving your payments and processing them.
If AP automation sounds like a good fit for your business continuity plan, we’d love to chat.