We spoke with Olav Maas from Basware about the benefits of touchless invoice processing, the latest evolution of AP automation technology.
Nothing gives a more oppressive feeling than outstanding debts. Yet, for many companies, debt processing and payment is often challenging. Paper invoices need to pass through several people in the company for approval, resulting in poor visibility into which invoices have been paid. This can lead to friction with suppliers and crucial errors in the accounts.
Fortunately, more efficient solutions are available today. AP Automation is a leading financial technology that simplifies the handling of accounts payables through automating repetitive procedures. The next step in this automation process, touchless invoice processing, aims to completely eliminate the need for human intervention. Olav Maas, Director AP Automation, tells us why ‘touchless invoice processing’ is the future of financial management.
What exactly does touchless invoice processing mean?
"A first wave of AP Automation solutions focused mainly on the question: 'How should I process an invoice?'. It was mainly about streamlining the invoicing process,” explains Maas. "With touchless invoice processing, we want to look a step further. The focus shifts to 'How do I optimize the process, so no one needs to even touch the invoice?' instead."
That philosophy makes the benefits of touchless invoice processing for finance departments immediately apparent.
"Every human intervention is a potential deviation in the process. Those deviations lead to errors in your data,” says Maas. “By removing human interference, you can access more and better data, which in turn provides useful insights to determine your financial strategy. With touchless invoice processing, you fine-tune both the process and the technology that drives the process itself."
Collaborating with the customer
It should come as no surprise that touchless invoice processing is a key component of Basware's solution portfolio. The Basware AP Automation solution consists of four different layers.
"The first layer is your raw data sources, but they don't tell you anything concrete," says Maas. "So, from that you have to extract the right data for analysis with business intelligence (BI) tools. This data extraction is typically very complex and requires manual work. Our software automates this process and displays the output of the data analysis in the form of ready-made KPI's in a clear dashboard. Many solutions do this as well, but we want to go beyond the second level of data-–purely visual reporting. You create enormous added value for customers by not only giving them access to ready-made data but also by telling them what to do with that data. Based on the data analysis, we provide the customer with a third level of data, concrete recommendations for adjusting their processes."
It doesn't stop there, Maas continues:
"In a final step, we can use historical data to perform predictive analysis. For example, we can predict on whether an invoice will be paid on time or not. It is ultimately up to the customer to decide what to do with those insights. In this way, touchless invoice processing also becomes collaboration between us and the customer, we effectively give them a virtual data analyst they can work with. Our solutions encapsulate the entire data analysis process, and that's something pretty unique in the market."
Building trust between man and machine
Olav Maas is happy to dispel one more misconception about automation for us:
"The ultimate goal of touchless invoice processing is not to completely remove people from the process, quite the contrary. We want to improve the cooperation between people and machines. Because people no longer need to manually code invoices, they can focus on what really matters: Converting output into concrete business actions and driving desired outcomes. By allowing people to focus on what they are good at, you keep employees happy."
Maas' conclusion reminds us of a conversation with Dany De Budt, Country Manager at Basware Benelux. He told us that technological advances come from the interaction between people and machines. And that's what touchless invoice processing is all about.
"In the financial sector in which we operate, it is crucial that you gain the trust of your customers. That trust is really not a given: We can make them proposals but they have to be willing to accept them,” says Maas. “Bad analysis can cost a company a lot of money. Trust is built by allowing your customers to interact with your technologies. Once that bond of trust is established, you can continue to digitize together."
Automation is much more than taking people away from processes. It has to lay the foundation for trust between man and machine
Experience the next generation of AP Automation
Olav Maas certainly sheds light on why touchless automation is essential for long-term success and sustainable financial operations. But it’s one thing to hear about touchless automation, and another thing to experience it. If you want to see what best-in-class AP automation software can do, check out our three-minute video of our AP Automation solution here or get in touch with our subject matter experts to discuss your specific needs and get tailored advice.