Even though the technology exists today to automate the entire process, half of companies still say that none of their invoices are submitted in an electronic format that can be processed straight-through, without human intervention, including coding and approvals. That means that every single invoice has to be seen by multiple human workers, creating a lot of routine work and taking time away from strategic tasks.
With rare exception, no one enjoys the invoice process. Matching purchase orders, double-checking payment amounts, troubleshooting with buyers — it can all be tedious and perhaps even frustrating. And yet, 52% don’t have a straight-through process for their invoices.
By contrast, according to our Fintopia survey of purchase-to-pay (P2P) players across various industries, 3% of companies process all their invoices straight-through, and 11% process almost all invoices this way.
Encourage Creativity with Automation
Think of how much time and money these leading companies save when it comes to invoice processing — and how much it frees up their employees to do other work. Instead of doing the same basic task dozens of times a day, these employees can focus on fringe cases that require more creativity and humanity. They let the machines do the routine work and they take on the work that only humans can do.
To motivate your workforce to change, you might start by tracking how many times employees have to fill out a form by hand as well as any inaccuracies that occur in the process. Once you have data on that front, the decision is simple; automation saves time and money.
Bilderberg Now Receives More than 80% of Invoices Electronically
Bilderberg, a hotel chain in the Netherlands, is shifting to automated electronic invoices and has seen dramatic positive results in the process. They used to receive 90% of their invoices in physical form via mail. Employees had to open each letter, read it, sort it, process it, etc. Now they receive more than 80% electronically. This even includes PDF invoices, which are processed automatically thanks to the data translation functionality of their AP system.
Bing Váhl, a purchasing manager at the hotel chain, says,
“Going paperless saves us a lot of work — and reduces the opportunities for error that come with that work.”
Boels Rental Matches More than 75% of Invoices
In addition to having the ability to automatically translate electronic PDFs in a way that gets them into an AP system, there’s also the time-consuming and routine task of auto-matching invoices with purchase orders. Compared to the percentage of companies that can process invoices straight through, things look far more optimistic on this front. Specifically, only 17% say none of their invoices are linked this way, while 22% say that more than three-quarters are.
To illustrate how auto-matching empowers finance teams, we can look at Boels Rental, a trailblazer in the rental industry. Boels automatically matches more than 75% of invoices directly to a purchase order, helping them process more than 250,000 purchase orders annually.
Regarding their methodology, Rob van der Hagen, Head of AP Europe at Boels Rental, said, “Our average of booking invoices went up by 80 invoices per person per day because it’s much faster and more user-friendly.” Improvements like this go a long way to streamlining the procurement process.
The data is clear: If you want to remain competitive in an evolving landscape, you have to embrace automated solutions. Let the machines do the routine work that machines are good at, while your human employees do the creative problem solving that humans are best at. With automated processing and matching in place, finance departments have the opportunity to push at the frontier of what’s coming next.
Ready to Learn More?
Can you imagine a state of finance utopia? A dreamy existence where all processes are automated, all transactions are seamless, and all data is available in one, holistic, location. Read our report, FINTOPIA SURVEY: THE STATE OF AP EFFICIENCY IN THE US to learn how your organization can achieve this perfect state of financial bliss. Questions? Contact us - we’re here to help.