Maximize Your AP Performance with the Benefits of Cloud Technology
These days, Accounts Payable (AP) departments strive to do more with less while aiming to reduce operating costs, increase productivity to free up staff to focus on value-added activities, and maximize limited capital budgets and IT resources.
Manual accounting processes and on-premises invoice processing make these goals a near-impossible feat, but there is a solution. Cloud-based AP automation digitizes and accelerates invoice approval workflows while making information accessible to authorized users and ensuring data security and compliance.
Migrating AP to the cloud – processing, storing, and accessing information via the Internet rather than using a local hard drive – overcomes many operational issues that AP departments face. Cloud-based solutions also keep AP processes flowing, even during unanticipated disruptions. And the technology offers a more cost-effective, flexible, and scalable alternative to on-premises systems. Cloud-based AP solutions are also easier to install, use, and maintain than on-premises systems.
Understandably, organizations often hesitate to migrate to a cloud-based solution because implementing new technologies can be arduous. However, partnering with a best-in-class finance automation provider makes implementing cloud-based technology a straightforward process.
Below are some of the benefits of a cloud-based AP solution:
Cloud-based solutions eliminate the need for sky-high software license fees, expensive hardware, open-ended professional services fees, ever-increasing annual maintenance fees, and pricey software upgrade charges. And cloud-based AP automation solutions help departments reduce the cost of processing invoices and paying suppliers from day 1. Highly automated AP departments spend less than one-fourth as much to process an invoice as their peers with little or no automation. Chalk these eye-popping cost savings up to all the manual tasks that a cloud-based solution automates, the elimination of paper storage, and the ability to avoid late payments through faster invoice approvals.
Fast and Easy Implementation:
No business has the appetite for a long, complicated system deployment. Finance leaders also know that the longer and more complicated a system deployment, the greater the odds that something will go wrong. That’s why more AP departments are embracing cloud-based solutions. An AP department can be set up on a cloud-based solution in a fraction of the time that it takes to install an on-premises system. What’s more, cloud-based solutions won’t disrupt existing processes and procedures, require minimal IT involvement, and can easily be integrated with an organization’s accounting system or enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. The distributed architecture of a cloud-based AP automation solution also makes it a snap to train remote payables staff.
Increased Staff Productivity:
Recent hiring difficulties have exposed and exacerbated the shortcomings of manual and paper-based approaches to AP processing. Cloud-based solutions help AP departments maximize human capital. For starters, rather than rely on human intervention, header and line-item data from invoices is captured automatically and matched against PO information residing in a system of record. Digitally managing invoices and related data also speeds the resolution of disputes. By eliminating manual, repetitive tasks, accounts payables staff can focus more time on higher-value activities such as analyzing invoice data, collaborating with procurement and other stakeholders, and building relationships with strategic suppliers.
It can feel like information is coming at an AP department a million miles an hour. Without the right tools, AP departments can be forced to “fly blind,” with important information out of reach. Spreadsheets are quickly outdated, easily corrupted, and often inaccessible. Systems of record don’t provide visibility into invoices from the time they are received. Homegrown databases can be hard to use. And on-premises invoice processing solutions make it hard for users to access information while working from home or on-the-go. Cloud-based AP solutions put smart insights at the fingertips of the people who need them, when they need them. Invoices are 100 percent visible and traceable from the moment they are received. Graphical dashboards provide real-time visibility into the status of invoices and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Users can monitor and manage invoices whether approvers are across town or across the globe. Drill-down capabilities enable users to uncover trends and the source of inefficiencies. Mobile access keeps decision-makers in-the-know while on-the-go. Exports get invoice information downstream fast. Ad hoc capabilities make it easy for AP departments to adapt their reporting for changing business requirements. And digitally archived documents and data are accessible to authorized users 24/7/365. The insights provided by cloud-based AP solutions enable an organization to more easily track and control working capital, corporate spend, and operational performance.
Increased Security and Compliance:
Businesses put themselves at risk of fraud by relying heavily on emails to onboard suppliers and route invoices for approval. Email isn’t secure, it doesn’t enforce separation of duties, it can’t ensure chain of custody, it doesn’t log all the actions taken on a transaction, it doesn’t provide visibility into the status of invoices, and it can’t stop someone from prematurely deleting images and data. Cloud-based solutions help AP departments mitigate potential security and compliance risks by standardizing processes and providing visibility into the actions taken on a transaction, no matter where staff work. The technology restricts access to the system and functions by user and role. It enforces an organization’s workflow rules for onboarding suppliers, processing invoices, and paying suppliers. It encrypts sensitive data. It automatically creates audit logs. And cloud-based solutions make it easy to pay suppliers electronically, rather than using risky paper checks. Because cloud-based solutions automatically employ the latest upgrades and patches, without users having to install any software, AP departments also can be sure that they have the latest technology and tools for protecting them against bad actors.
If there’s one lesson that businesses have learned over the past two years, it’s that they must be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it’s a natural disaster, global pandemic, or civil unrest, there will be instances where staff cannot get into the office to use an on-premises AP automation system. Cloud-based solutions keep processes moving, no matter where staff work. Invoices can be received electronically via any delivery channel. Invoice header and line-item data is extracted automatically and matched against POs and shipping documents that reside in a system of record. Matched invoices are posted directly to the system of record, without anyone having to lift a finger. Unmatched invoices and invoices that require review are digitally routed based on pre-defined business rules. Once they are processed, images and data of each invoice are securely stored in a digital archive and instantly accessible by authorized users at any time, from any location or any device.
Manual, paper-based processing is draining, time-consuming, and prevents your AP team from reaching its goals. Implementing a cloud-based automation solution, a proven alternative to traditional processing methods, is a must for lucrative finance departments. Partnering with a world-class finance automation provider takes the hassle out of implementation and empowers you to transform your AP department.