Say goodbye to the paper mountain
Most of us at home have the pleasure of paying bills. They turn up all throughout the month, have different payment terms and frequencies, you will get pushed into receiving them electronically with the bribe of saving the environment, and they tend to sit in piles until you get around to paying them.
If you forget to pay on time, some of the companies like to impose penalties, or maybe this is disguised as an early payment discount if you are lucky!
If you are anything like me, you don’t sign up to the Direct Debit option where the Supplier can take your life savings away on a whim.
For your business bills, it often is not too different.
Your accounts payable teams will be emailed the majority of supplier invoices now, and the first thing many of them do is print them out. They are sent in the internal mail to people to review and scribble a code and approval on, and then they come back to finance to enter into the finance system.
Sometimes in the process, extra copies are made and filed, someone scans and emails the printed documents to someone else, they get lost, duplicated and take time to get around the organisation. If you are very lucky, they make their way back to finance, are punched into the finance system just in time to make the next payment run.
Why don't we do this in a better way?
The good news? We can remove the paper mountain with an invoice automation system.
Firstly, the use of Purchase Orders is a great control feature, and further, it is key to being able to automate much of the process of paying the bill at the end of the process.
Having catalogues of items that help your team purchase goods from your key suppliers is also very helpful - this saves them chasing around for product codes and prices, you can default GL codes and improve the accuracy of the purchase order so that, potentially, an invoice can automatically match. And, nobody has to deal with it at all!
The Purchase Order also helps your team make accurate accruals at month end, and potentially close off month end faster.
For all the bills that don’t fit the Purchase Order process, you can route them for coding and approval electronically, keeping track of where they are, generating reminders automatically if needed, and when they come back there is no data entry needed, so they can be paid straight away.
Data entry of invoices can be automated using OCR technology. Such systems can read a document and work out the content for the most part. If it needs a little help, you can simply teach it a few key things about your supplier invoice formats and next month it'll be automatic! This automation can also extend to matching the Invoice and Purchase Orders automatically.
Bevan Wright is an Accounts Payable process expert. Having spent over 20 years working as an accountant, he is now dedicated to helping businesses streamline their Accounts Payable and Procure to Pay processes, improving efficiency, increasing accuracy, saving money, and reducing the risk of fraud.
Begin your journey to a more efficient Procure-to-Pay process. Download the ApprovalPlus eBook now.