Automating Accounts Payable – Where do I start?
Business managers and CFOs need to remain focused on their core role – improving operations and reducing costs. Challenges exist, however, in relying on ad hoc, manual and paper-heavy accounting processes.
Adopting a financial process transformation project can drastically impact important metrics such as:
- Invoice processing costs
- Cycle time for correcting an invoice error
- Number of invoice line items processed per FTE
- Number of accounts in chart of accounts
- Cost of reporting per $1,000 in revenue
However, many clients often approach me with the same question – ‘Where do I start?’
The answer to this question may vary depending on the type of business I am dealing with. However, in my view, digitising the following four processes should be a top priority for any business looking to excel in today’s increasingly competitive environment.
- Accounts Payable
There are a wide variety of efficiencies to be gained by automating AP. Why are manual, paper-based processes so damaging? Any level of invoice management efficiency is difficult to achieve when you’re routing paper invoices. It’s common for a paper invoice to sit in an approvers in-tray for weeks, or sometimes even go missing altogether! This results in countless hours spent chasing it down and potential damage to supplier relationships.
With a digital workflow, documents move through your organisation efficiently. Your Staff are automatically alerted to errors or seek out additional information rather than waiting until they have to fix mistakes. Features such as instant flagging of non-standard invoices, flexible routing to correct decision-makers, and easy digital annotations and notes are critical to automating the exception handling.
- Audit Documentation
If you have a paper-based system, audits can be incredibly frustrating for you, your staff and auditors. Weeks of productivity can be lost throughout the process. It’s important to see who accessed which accounting documents and when.
Organisations need a highly detailed audit trail, which is only possible with a Document Management System (DMS). When digitised, your staff can respond quickly to auditor requests and maintain greater control over business information. Further to this, you can even grant access to the relevant information for the auditor to access on their own, without the need to interfere with day-to-day operations.
- Procurement and Purchasing
Procurement includes the processes by which business requirements are translated into supplier requirements; the management of supplier relationships; and ultimately the ordering of goods and services needed to produce a product or provide a service.
Procurement teams can drown in masses of documents and paperwork, incompatible files, formats and systems. By using a DMS, businesses can take the critical first step of converting paper documents to digital ones, eliminating clutter and reducing waste in the process.
- Month-end close
Once the above processes have been automated, organisations are able to incorporate these improvements in a department-wide effort to streamline the month-end process.
According to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, speed and accuracy are two of the main constant challenges for those involved in the month-end process.
“Organisations, clients and suppliers are seeking information at an accelerated pace. But they also need to be able to trust the data they’re acting on,” AICPA said.
In addition, a recent survey by Adra, a month-end close reconciliation software provider with over 1,800 clients and 15,000 users found the following:
- only 28% of their respondents said they trust the numbers reported in the month-end close
- 90% said they are under pressure to close faster
- 39% said they were satisfied with the closing process
Through the use of a DMS, organisations are able to greatly improve the month-end process, which frees up valuable time for strategic thinking. As a result, the finance team can better understand the implications of the data they are reporting on rather than focusing solely on the numbers themselves.
How can Docuworx help you?
Firstly, it’s clear that digitising paper-based processes has a considerable impact on your business, customers and bottom line. Don’t get overwhelmed by the analysis paralysis which results in delaying the project and continued frustration.
Your DMS should integrate with whatever financial, accounting, and ERP system runs the financial operations in your organisation.
The decision around implementing an effective DMS needs to be more than just where the documents are stored; your objective is to automate business processes.
By using a specialist implementation partner such as Docuworx, you can expedite the digital transformation of your accounting department.
Docuworx specialises in business process automation. In fact, it’s literally all we do.
To find out more, you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 0414 413 432.