Accounts Payable Software: How Technology is Changing the Game
Technological advances are changing accounts payable—not only streamlining processes and increasing efficiency, but potentially elevating the role of Accounts Payable (AP) within a company. Using technology to improve AP processes can enhance interdepartmental collaboration, provide strategic business insights, improve cash flow and save money. Here are some advances you may want to consider.
Automated data entry
While not exactly new, optical character recognition (OCR)—a form of artificial intelligence—has improved to the point where it can read data from an image—for example, invoice numbers, dates, amounts—and enter the values into accounting software. Potential advantages include:
- Reducing or eliminating the need for manual data entry. Automated data entry can increase accuracy and speed as well as reduce AP processing and staffing costs.
- Freeing up staff time formerly used for data entry to analyze data, create more accurate forecasting and improve cash flow.
Aggregating data from AP and other sources within your organization and using data analysis features in accounting software can help you identify trends and patterns and react accordingly. For example, you may notice an increase in AP invoices at certain times of the year. A rash of contractor invoices in a short period could help identify an area of the company where you may be short-staffed, or areas with the greatest growth potential where you may want to concentrate resources. Or, you can spot shifts in times between procurement and demand for payment and use the data to determine preferred and troublesome suppliers and whether you may need to alter their terms of payment.
Cloud and mobile access
Using cloud-based accounting systems has become more common for managing AP processes. Potential advantages include:
- Increased mobile and off-site access. Many employees do business away from the office and on their phones. Providing remote access may increase efficiency and employee engagement.
- Reduced costs. Replace the manual process of collecting, approving, tracking and paying invoices with an end-to-end electronic workflow. The cost savings realized from automation can be invested into your business.
Increasing efficiencies to help grow your business
How far you go with integrating technology into your AP processes is dependent on your business model, the size and scale of your business and your strategic business goals. Consider a complete invoice-to-pay solution to automate your payables, save time and improve cash flow.