Accounts payable (AP) automation helps reduce the manual tasks and paper commonly required to process invoices and pay bills. Typically, AP automation solution or service providers use software that helps enable users to process invoices and pay them electronically over the Internet. The combination of software and services converts invoices into digital formats, organizes the invoices within the system, routes them for approvals and issues payments to suppliers once authorized. Automating AP not only helps eliminate paper; it streamlines the process and provides 24/7 visibility into the status of invoices, approvals and payments.
Accounts payable (AP) automation streamlines the entire invoice-to-pay process, allowing companies to pay bills faster with less work while cutting processing costs and reducing fraud and security risks. AP automation technology liberates anyone involved in the processing and payments of invoices, including your AP manager, controller and CFO, from the pains of paper-based processing.
Here are five benefits AP automation can provide both you and your company:
An accounts payable (AP) automation software platform will assist you with processing your invoices and payments. It will display all invoices posted to the platform, control the routing of invoices for approvals on a workflow, create an audit trail of the steps performed in processing your invoices and enable users to work efficiently and effectively.
The invoice processing platform should provide a central repository for all your invoices and integrate with your accounting system. It should also facilitate bill payments to your suppliers and track all payment processing stages in an electronic payment system.
Here’s one conceptual way to help you better understand how this software works. It functions a bit like the GPS application on your smartphone. You type in where you want to go and the software instructs and guides you on how to get there including every stop, turn and reroute. The best part? You’re in control — but guided to get you there faster. In a similar conceptual fashion, you load AP automation software, set it up to handle your specific AP processes, and the software guides you through the steps and along the path to your destination: paying your company’s bills. Step by step, the AP management software helps lead you through this smooth process.
Automating AP can be pivotal to your business because it limits data entry and paper invoices, drives consistency in payment processes, securely pays suppliers and controls cash flow while minimizing spending on AP.
An accounts payable (AP) automation system manages an organization’s AP process from receiving the invoice all the way to paying suppliers while maintaining its existing banking relationships and workflows. By automating the invoice and payment process, customers have 24/7 visibility into payment and approvals while a dedicated service team with the software provider manages the suppliers and executes payments on their behalf.
Sequentially, some of the key features of AP software from the user’s perspective include:
To automate invoice processing, you can use invoice management software with a set of rules and conditions. If you receive an invoice on paper, start by converting that invoice into a digital format. From there you can begin automating the invoice process. The software automatically codes and categorizes the invoice, assigns it to the appropriate workflow, then routes it to corporate leaders for approvals. Rules and alerts are applied to invoices to make the software and service work best for your AP processes and limit manual participation. Once fully approved by your accounting department, invoices are sent directly into your accounting system and bill payments are automatically sent to suppliers and vendors. This automated process can mirror existing invoice approval processes while allowing companies to cut processing time.
A company can automate invoice approval with accounts payable automation software. The software automatically converts a paper invoice, for example, into a digital electronic format. From there the software determines which corporate leaders should approve which invoices and automatically sends the invoices to the appropriate leaders based the company’s rules and workflow restrictions.
These rules and restrictions help eliminate the hassle of reaching out to an approver every month about the same dollar amount threshold.
All approval amounts can be set during implementation for a smooth, streamlined process. Approvals can also be rerouted in the absence of the approver to keep business running as usual.
Customers who use invoice automation software can track the status of any invoice at any time. They can analyze critical metrics like approval cycle times and month-end accruals. And with one-click accrual, these customers can see what invoices still need approval, how they’re coded and the dollars outstanding.
AvidXchange’s invoice automation software can mirror your current approval processes and workflows, helping reduce paper, duplicate payments and security risks. By automating the invoice management process, companies can track invoices electronically, streamline workflows, and access a central repository for anytime, anywhere access to invoice and payment data.
Your businesses could save about 60 percent in payment processing costs by using accounts payable (AP) automation rather than manual processes, according to Aberdeen Research. Aberdeen notes it costs up to $22 to manage the process manually from the time an invoice is received until the payment gets made, compared to about $10 per invoice in an automated accounts payable system.
AvidXchange helps maximize cost-savings by reducing manual efforts associated with invoice receipt and capture. Hours of employee time that used to be spent managing those manual processes can be put to more strategic work.
The exact timeline for accounts payable (AP) automation implementation will depend on the specific offerings of each service provider and how their solution integrates with your existing accounting systems.
At AvidXchange, implementation can be completed in as little as 45 days.
It looks just like the paper invoice you receive but digitized in an electronic format so you can see it online. Once your invoice is entered into the invoice automation system, simply log in to see an actual image of the digital invoice along with all the data that we’ve pulled from it, such as the invoice amount, vendor and due date.
We notify your suppliers to send their paper invoices to a PO Box set up on your behalf, as well as submit their invoices to an email address established for you. Our invoice ingestion service will take the invoice, convert any paper invoices to an electronic format and post them to the system.
Anyone involved in the invoice review and approval process that has appropriate permissions can dispute an invoice. And the Internal System Administrator or anyone with proper authority on your internal team can void an invoice.
Workflows are built according to the business practices you have in place now. Our team will work with yours to understand how your approval process works then build as many workflows needed to accommodate your process.
Your accounting system is always the system of record. AvidXchange doesn’t replace your accounting system; it augments it with software and services. AvidXchange integrates with your accounting system as a complementary platform, connecting directly with the accounting system so you can automate the entire AP process without giving up control.
AvidXchange supports hundreds of ERP and accounting system integrations. These systems increasingly use application programming interfaces (APIs). With an API, we help enable the AP software to “plug into” and “talk to” the accounting software.
AvidXchange helps reduce the manual, paper-based effort required for processing invoices and payments and allows companies to pay bills with a few simple clicks or keystrokes – anytime, from anywhere.
To accept payments a supplier does not need to do any extra work. Our supplier services teams proactively and continually enroll new suppliers into the AvidPay Network.
For reporting purposes, AvidXchange allows access to invoices for up to seven years.
If your company wants to get back up copies of invoice images, you can ask us for a data extraction that we can store on a universal serial bus (USB) or compact disk (CD). Depending on access in your AvidXchange portal, at any time you can create searches, run reports and export your invoice data history in Excel, PDF, or view the data in HTML. With most accounting systems we already send a URL link of the invoice image into your system with the integration giving you access to the image.
Paper invoices are converted to an electronic format. As a result, paper invoices get reduced from your process. AvidXchange becomes the central repository of all your invoices stored online and easily accessible. For paper invoices, we designate a P.O. Box where suppliers can mail their invoices directly. From the P.O. Box, our services will scan and index the invoice, ending the task of opening the mail and manual data entry that could be occurring today.
AvidXchange can provide your organization with a read-only access to the portal at your request. Prior to cancelation of services, we can also provide all invoice data captured from the portal. Invoices that have been integrated from the portal to your accounting system will still remain as records in your accounting system.
Yes, we recommend that you are live in your accounting system prior to beginning the implementation process with AvidXchange. After your accounting system gets configured, we‘ll set up your AvidXchange portal with data from your accounting system.
AvidXchange improves your approval process by building automated approval workflows for both invoice and payment reviews that are faster, more efficient and more secure than manual workflows.
The best part is these automated approval workflows won’t change your approval process because the workflow in your AvidXchange AP automation platform will be configured to mirror your current approval scenarios.
The workflow engine will be configured and defaulted based on pre-determined rules and conditions applied to the workflow. If you’re a part of the invoice and or payment review process, AvidXchange helps make it easier for you to review your invoices. In this process, the AP software system will automatically route invoices needing approvals to your queue and send notifications and reminders. Your team will also gain visibility into what stage the invoice is in the review process and where it will go next.
Unlike many providers, we offer two different electronic methods that generate rebates for you: AvidPay Direct – an enhanced direct deposit option – and virtual Mastercard payments.
AvidXchange sends the payments to your suppliers and vendors, but you remain in complete control of approving the payments to be issued and have full visibility to track these transactions.
We make payments to vendors based on their preferences using Mastercard, AvidPay Direct payment or a paper check.
You select payments from your accounting system just like you do today, but instead of selecting them for print, you select them to pay. Payments then get transmitted to the e-payment software application and your payment process begins. Based on your company’s current payment approval processes, payment files can be routed to approvers for final approval before they’re sent to vendors.
Your company’s accounting system remains your system of record, and you’ll receive files with all the automated payment information your company needs for reconciliation of your B2B bill payments.
As a new AvidXchange customer, you’ll have a dedicated project team to fully support and implement your solutions during the implementation cycle. Typically, over the course of several weeks our team will work with yours through an implementation consisting of:
Once you’re live on our automated accounts payable solutions, we’ll still be here supporting you with educational resources and different customer-focused teams constantly working to help ensure you have a pain-free, paperless AP experience.
In addition to the implementation support from your provider, here are a few helpful steps to take once you have an accounts payable (AP) automation provider onboard to help ensure you get off on the right foot.
Yes. A benefit of implementing an automated accounts payable (AP) system is scalable growth. What does that mean? It means two things:
Depending on the size of the organization and solution to be configured, implementation timelines may vary, but typically we can implement our entire invoice-to-pay solution in as little as 45 days. During implementation, you’ll have a dedicated project team from AvidXchange supporting you the entire way.
Yes. We have hundreds of teammates on four distinct teams dedicated entirely to your success:
Yes, our Customer Knowledge Center is full of free articles, videos, and other resources to help you become an AP automation master. You can even earn CPE credits by completing AvidXchange certification courses through our AvidXchange Academy.
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