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The idea of automating accounts payable is not new, but with the digital shift heralded by the turmoil of 2020, automation is no longer an extravagance to be enjoyed solely by large corporations or firms. Automation is an efficiency businesses of every size must consider to keep pace with the constant changes in today’s environment — the next norm.

The manual process of matching invoices to purchase orders, verifying individual line items, generating new purchase orders, and completing paper-based approvals is a costly and labour-intensive method that leads to delays, errors, and even duplication of payments. Staff members may spend entire days opening mail, checking invoices, and manually keying in data, resulting in significant employee hours, and sometimes requiring IT support.
Combined, these tasks require multiple staff members' involvement, which can lead to considerable discrepancies and inefficiencies. Paper invoices are not only inconvenient, but they are also unwieldy to manage in a distributed-workforce environment. Unlike traditional accounts payable processes, which rely on manual data entry, automated account payable solutions are a digital solution that directly streamline workflows.

Why Automation has Gained Importance

While every AP team must include competent knowledge in accounting regulations, data interpretation and business analysis have surfaced as more critical in recent years. Most small- and medium-sized companies use manual invoice processes for vendor payments from which it is more difficult to distil such information.
While some companies have been reluctant to leave their manual processes behind, stay-at-home orders associated with the pandemic have forced companies to examine operational inefficiencies and seek solutions through automation.

With manual AP processes, businesses are likely losing money. In a report published by APQC research, 62% of the cost associated with invoice processing is labour cost. The more manual the AP process, the higher the labour cost per invoice. Implementing an automated system in your AP department is a vital step toward becoming more efficient and cost-effective.

AP has transformed from a historically transactional function to become a business’s strategic hub. Automation of this department and these essential functions ensures greater visibility, faster invoice approval, increased productivity, reduced costs, and much more.

Why You Should Automate Accounts Payable

The concept of automation is simple—replace slow, repetitive processes with smart software that performs the task for you. AP processes, such as purchase orders, supplier invoices, approvals, and accounting, are still done manually by millions of companies worldwide. The sheer work hours it takes to complete these processes lead to long wait times and slow invoice payments, which can directly impact cash flow.

What is AP automation? Accounts payable automation, encompasses tools or processes that replace manual tasks with automated handling. For instance, you can digitally submit and approve purchase orders and invoices, streamlining the workflow instead of transporting them to various in-trays throughout the organisation or mailing them to vendors.
Any automation aims to move faster, improve accuracy, and enable scale. With automation, your company will:
  • Save time by replacing slow and repetitive work with rapid processing and results.
  • Reduce errors by programming the automation to correctly perform rote routines based upon rules you set.
  • Digitise documents and eliminate the need for massive, physical storage rooms with cloud storage.
  • Increase productivity by enabling your team to focus on higher-value tasks and letting automation tend to the tedious.
  • Gain accessibility to your AP from anywhere at any time using any device.
  • Enable the organisation to file purchase orders, check analytics, or route documents for approval.
Most businesses realise they can be more productive and efficient by implementing automation, but they did not have the impetus to change a functioning system until recently. With fewer people working in the office, automation has become a necessity, not a luxury.

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The Benefits of Canon Business Services' Automated Accounts Payable

Canon Business Services (formerly Converga) has more than 25 years’ experience in business-outsourcing services, including onsite-managed services, digital services, offshore managed services. Automated accounts payable (AAP) is a hosted capture and workflow software solution that falls under our digital services category. With AAP, we streamline and automate your accounts payable processes, removing manual tasks and so you gain better visibility and control over the entire invoicing process.

Companies focused on hastening their invoice processing can avoid late fees, negotiate discounts, enjoy enhanced vendor relationships, and improve cash-flow. Canon Business Services' (CBS) automated AP solution achieves these goals and many others.
Like traditional accounts payable systems, our automated solution gathers invoices, reconciles, and ensures staff members can quickly approve them, but critical features set our solution apart from manual processes.

One of those features is the ability to quickly and easily extract data and match it against available purchase orders. While this process is monotonous when done manually, our automated solution does it quickly, while adhering to specific rules set out by your team.

Another essential feature is storing images and data in an automated portal. Cloud storage reduces physical storage while ensuring you can effortlessly search and track prior invoices and have them available for your records.
Not all automated solutions are created equal. CBS' automated accounts payable platform focuses on innovation and sustainability, allowing you to benefit from more efficiency and better financial performance.

CBS' automated accounts payable solution reduces manual errors and duplication by up to 40%. It also reduces invoice processing costs by 80%, providing substantial cost savings.

How Automated Accounts Payable Integrates Into Other Processes

One of CBS' accounts payable solution's critical features is that it efficiently works with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, including many that are widely available in Australia and New Zealand. This compatibility facilitates data transfer between the two systems, making CBS' solution nimbler and more versatile than similar accounts payable platforms. It also means that customised payment files are delivered to your ERP to facilitate payment.

Seamless workflows are essential to automation. They ensure your systems can speak to each other and transfer necessary data back and forth.

Reduced IT Costs

In addition to increasing efficiency, CBS' AP solution boosts productivity and can reduce dependencies on IT resources. “The Canon Business Services solution has lowered the demand on internal IT resources and reduced our full-time staff,” says Steve Scott, Finance Manager of Fletcher Distribution. This reduced dependency on IT has allowed his team to achieve cost savings while also reallocating resources to other parts of the business, a trend seen with many customers who adopt an automated accounts payable platform.

Why Automation is Right for Your Company

Traditional accounts payable processes can be slow, unwieldy, and costly. They can also take up a significant amount of your team’s time and require a considerable amount of diligence to avoid errors. What’s more, with remote work continuing into 2021, traditional processes make it challenging to provide your team members with access to the documents they need to get the job done.

Implementing an automated accounts payable solution is an effective way to overcome these challenges, and it can help you save time and money in both the short- and long-term. It can also integrate easily with your existing systems, offering you the flexibility to adapt those systems as your business continues to grow and scale. Our automated accounts payable solution offers business intelligence insights and gives you visibility into your business's critical areas, enabling you to make decisions for the future.
To find out more about the best way to implement an automated accounts payable solution, download the Automated Accounts Payable brochure to improve your financial oversight and contact us today.

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