How Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Simplifies Your Process

Read time: 6 mins
How Accounts Payable Workflow Automation Simplifies Your Process

Streamlining business processes is essential for any organization to remain competitive and profitable. Accounting teams must keep a close eye on spending while striving for optimal liquidity. Adding new software may feel overwhelming, but the reality is that well-designed accounts payable workflow automation simplifies and streamlines all facets of accounts payable in one system, and scales with your organization.

Key takeaways:

  • While maintaining manual AP invoicing may seem like the simplest solution, continuing to invest human capital into data entry and processing complicates invoicing procedures and creates errors.
  • Manual processes lead to losses in time and savings, whereas automation results in significant ROI in the short and long term.
  • Automated workflows are a strategic investment in a company’s spending power that promotes more efficient spending practices.

With Coupa's automation software, your business has the technology solutions necessary for simplifying your procedures and keeping schedules and budgets under control.

Keep workflows in order with accounts payable workflow automation

Manual processes are slower and more prone to errors. We’ve all seen it before: people make mistakes, invoices get lost in email threads, or someone skips a line on a spreadsheet. Inaccurate invoice capture, missing approval, or incorrect payment execution can create headaches that ripple through accounts payable and other divisions.

The biggest issue with manual workflows is speed. Slow processes make it extremely difficult to keep up with unpredictable, high-priority tasks, especially with today’s disruptions. For example, it may be hard ensuring the proper approvers are looped in when there’s a critical issue and that they respond in a timely manner when processes are manual.

Accounts payable workflow automation keeps everyone on the same page instantaneously and ensures that payments cannot go through without following the proper steps. Now, your AP teams don’t have to scramble to fill in missing details after a payment clears.

Streamline receipt of invoices

One area that can quietly burn up time and money is the effort to shift gears when processing invoices in multiple formats. Some suppliers send image files, while others use Word docs or PDFs. Still other vendors stick to mailing or faxing paper documents. Keeping it all organized without losing any documents can quickly become a challenge.

Utilizing an automated system that can rapidly accept and match each invoice type means real-time and error-free processing. Additionally, you can automate recurring invoices. Setting automated standards for repeated processes allows you to quickly identify errors,alert the accounting team, and act fast. Quick resolutions in a digital landscape mean other functions don’t have to halt as a consequence.

Condense approval times

The series of steps in the invoice approval process opens the possibility of lost or destroyed invoices. A paper can easily end up in the wrong pile or on the wrong desk. Delays lead to late payments and penalties.

Accounts payable workflow automation substantially reduces the risks of paperwork heading to the wrong locations. The program captures and validates the invoice on arrival.

The manager responsible immediately receives the document for approval, which they can approve directly in the system. You can easily update your system to add or remove managers without worrying about lost emails and forwarded messages. Cloud-based systems also mean an individual can approve items in any location, enabling faster processing and approval times. By automating these processes, you can reduce your invoice approval cycle time to as little as 10.9 business hours.

Facilitate purchase order matching

Manually verifying each invoice against purchase orders and receiving reports is highly inefficient. Workflow rules in the automation software let the program confirm that terms, GL codes, line item data, and amounts are correct.

A single incorrect digit in a long string of numbers is all it takes for a mismatch, and human eyes that are staring at screens and documents all day can easily miss it. Automated comparisons effortlessly handle three-way matching, catch mistakes quickly, maintain high accuracy, and alert teams instantaneously. Through automation, you can even achieve a first time match rate of 96.5%, which is a strong indication of operational efficiency and effective compliance with spend policies. This ultimately reduces bottlenecks and keeps business running smoothly.

Expedite payments

A single sick day or vacation can back up payments when done manually. Spending money on late fees is a waste of your capital, plus you miss out on discounts for early payments that can add an additional 5% in savings. Additionally, on-time payments lead to good relationships with vendors that open the door to better credit and advantageous terms when you need them most.

Improve data extraction

Automated data capture can help finance leaders understand their total costs and departmental efficiency. The software does this by combining the data with advanced analytics. Additionally, authorized members of your accounting department gain access to the entire accounting record to analyze new transactions as they come in.

Executives can make more intelligent decisions with helpful metrics and KPIs in user-friendly dashboards too. Up-to-date information improves financial predictability and increases confidence in projections. Decision-makers can then take bold steps with reduced risks.

Harness the power of spend

As a finance professional, the focus of your work is largely on making sure that the company's money only leaves accounts in the service of making more money. The only way to accomplish this is through the confidence your team gains by having full visibility into your transactions and cash flows.

By capturing everything that comes before, during, and after the direct action of spending money in one place, a Business Spend Management (BSM) platform provides unrivaled insight and data, giving you the competitive edge to be both profitable and responsible. Whenever disruption hits, you can profitably cut costs while bringing long-term strategic value.

With BSM, you can also fund your growth responsibly, incentivize supplier behaviors, and get a holistic view of your company's financial position by tracking all spend in real time. Let BSM help you hone your financial maturity as you protect liquidity and make well-informed decisions, ensuring continued success now and for years to come.

Uncover the top accounts payable workflow automation solution

Finance and accounting departments have enough to worry about without slow, outdated invoicing systems adding to the load. Accounts payable workflow automation takes the bulk of the busy work off your team’s agenda and lets everyone focus on more essential tasks that promote business growth. Contact Coupa for assistance finding the right BSM software solutions for you.