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Accounts Payable Automation and Working from Home – Simplifying Remote Working

26 July 2021

5 minute read

Accounts Payable Automation and Working from Home – Simplifying Remote Working

Working from home is not going away anytime soon. With some businesses are still fully remote and others are adopting a hybrid model, it’s clear that some form of remote work is undeniable. So, what’s the best way to ensure your company keeps business running as usual? Leverage automation to minimise process disruptions and business risk.

 

Before the pandemic, many companies were skeptical about the benefits of remote work and were hesitant to offer work-from-home opportunities to their employees. But when the world started shutting down and workers needed to be at home for their own safety and the safety of others, a number of organisations quickly realised they didn’t really have a plan in place to ensure business continuity. Those with digital, cloud-based solutions made the transition pretty seamlessly. But those that didn’t were left grasping for straws trying to scramble together some sort of plan.

But now that we’ve had a taste of working from home, many don’t want to revert back to “the old normal.”

For instance, according to a PWC report, less than 1 in 5 executives say they want to return to how their office was pre-pandemic, with 55% of employees agreeing by saying they want at least 3 days remote once the pandemic is over.

And according to research from IWG, “85% of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their business because of greater flexibility.” 

As many as 80% of U.S. workers say they would turn down a job that didn’t offer the option for remote working, and more than 75% cited remote work as the most effective way (other than salary) to retain staff. In a competitive hiring landscape, the benefits of offering this perk far outweigh the drawbacks. 

Technology and digitisation – the key to remote work

So, given all this, businesses really need to look into what technologies they need to make remote work as simple and beneficial to the company as possible.

For instance, consider finance. A traditionally manual, hands-on, and heavily time-consuming part of the business function, without digitisation, your firm is left at great risk. Because of this, the argument in favor of automating accounts payable (AP) operations, now more than ever, is impossible to ignore.

Businesses that have already automated their AP processes will quickly come to realise that all the parts of the process can be seamlessly handled from home (or wherever you are). And aside from the huge benefit of enabling remote work and therefore business continuity, AP automation also speeds up processing, eliminates manual errors, increases data accuracy, and makes the entire invoicing process touchless.

AP Automation – the true WFH enabler

AP automation enables AP teams and to effectively carry out invoice processing responsibilities without having to be physically in the office.  

A pre-pandemic report by Levvel Research noted that 23% of organisations were still processing invoices manually. However, in a recent article by PYMNTS.com, it’s predicted that the amount businesses will spend on AP automation solutions globally is projected to rise from what was $1.9 billion in 2019 to over $3 billion by 2024. So, it's clear that firms are realizing the benefits of such solutions.

Automation has been a top priority for many AP teams for some time, but in a recent KPMG report  “80% of CEOs globally have seen the digital transformation of their businesses accelerate over the past few months.”

If you have not already implemented AP Automation in your organisation, here are 9 reasons why you should:

  1. TIME SAVINGS: Automation makes processing and approving invoices quicker and more efficient, eliminating most of the manual stages involved. As a result, the number of human touches required per invoice is significantly reduced, meaning staff spends less time on the tedious tasks and more time on the strategic ones.

  2. REDUCED COSTS: Reducing manual effort and exceptions involved in invoice processing, AP automation can help significantly reduce invoice processing costs as well as the costs involved with resolving exceptions. According to research by PayStream Advisors, the most innovative AP departments process invoices in fewer than five days, at $2.36 per invoice, while those running on entirely manual processes can take up to 9x as long to process invoices, at 6x the cost.

  3. INCREASED EFFICIENCIES: AP automation increases processing efficiencies by streamlining the invoicing and payment process and reducing cycle times. As a result, it increases productivity, enabling AP resources to process more transactions per FTE.

  4. INCREASED ACCURACY: By eliminating the risk of human error, automation increases accuracy and reduces errors and exceptions across the entire invoice and payment processing cycle.

  5. BUILT-IN COMPLIANCE: Compliance is built into the system, making the process fully transparent. This allows common risks and instances of fraud to be tracked and prevented. Some automation systems like Basware’s can also be connected to major government hubs and deliver tax compliance in multiple countries around the world.

  6. INTEGRATION WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS: AP automation software can integrate with your business's existing systems, so you won’t need to duplicate data entry or switch between systems.

  7. ACCESSIBLE FROM ANYWHERE: Paper-based manual processes can usually only be carried out in a dedicated space, such as an office. Documents will need to be stored and filed in the right place. When the process is automated and cloud-based however, it can be done from anywhere with an internet connection, meaning remote work is supported that much easier.

  8. IMPROVED SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIPS: Errors and delays in the accounts payable process can harm your business relationships with suppliers. AP automation ensures that invoices are processed and paid accurately and on time, increasing discount capture and enhancing supplier satisfaction.

  9. ADVANCED ANALYTICS: AP automation software can provide access to advanced analytics and insights. This can help identify bottlenecks in the system, monitor performance, and implement continuous improvements. Trends can also be analysed, leading to more strategic decision-making and cash flow management.

What invoice processing looks like from your home office

Home office, couch, back porch, or beachside in a lounge chair – irrespective of where your employees are working from AP automation provides all the tools needed to process an invoice from start to finish, regardless of where you are.

From invoice receipt - Invoices are received electronically or converted from paper to electronic. Electronic invoicing covers methods such as B2B/EDI connections, PDF invoicing, or receipt via a supplier portal, where data flows electronically. Paper invoices are scanned and processed using artificial intelligence or OCR to extract and store the data in the cloud.

To matching and workflows - Once the data has been captured, invoices are either matched to purchase orders and goods receipts, or they are automatically routed to the relevant team or teammate for review and approval. Once approved, they are automatically sent to the ERP or accounting system for payment.

And through to archiving and audits - All Invoices are securely archived, and audit trails of all actions taken on invoices are easily available for financial audit purposes. Electronic archival of invoices also makes it easy to search for and find invoices anytime from anywhere.

Each step of the payables process can be comfortably performed from anywhere that has an internet connection and access to a Web browser. This means business keeps flowing and suppliers get paid regardless of where your employees are physically located.

Learn more about the value of enabling remote work

In our ebook “Automation: The Key to Your Remote Office” get more details and statistics on the tools and technologies needed to strengthen your remote workforce.