When you purchase from a supplier, they expect to be paid accurately, reliably, and in a timely manner. Driven in part by supplier demands and expectations, many organizations are looking for opportunities to automate their processes. While automation delivers a wide range of benefits, enhancing speed of payment and reducing the likelihood that exceptions and errors occur, a new report has found that these benefits are just the beginning.
Following our last AP-focused blog on the challenges in accounts payable processing that hold companies back, we would today like to explore the time and money savings opportunities that exist when you take steps to upgrade your AP and spend management practices.
The Evolution of Automation: From Cost Savings to Digital Transformation Enabler
In their most recent State of ePayables 2019 report, leading research and advisory firm Ardent Partners explored the continued evolution of the accounts payable function at businesses, finding that the AP department is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. In this report, Ardent partners notes that as executives have put an increased focus on the AP function, they have discovered that this formerly unglamorous back-office task is getting its day in the sun.
During the Great Recession, the onus was on companies to do more with less. At that time, investments in AP automation were made as a cost-saving measure. However, over the past decade, what started as a way to save money evolved into something bigger.
Rather than simply cutting down the time spent on processing, the newly found productivity gains resulted in more data available, more time to focus on the long-term growth of the business, and a larger role for the AP department. In fact, the report argues that AP automation may play a major role as an enabler for digital transformation initiatives.
How Automation Positions Your Company for Success
As companies move to shorten the road to paying suppliers, they unlock new value and insights, and the rest of the organization is taking note—55% of businesses now perceive AP as “very” or “exceptionally” valuable to the overall business. The report goes on to explain just how AP creates value:
- Transforming tactical execution to strategic value: “When paper dominates an AP department, inefficiency, and most likely ineptitude are sure to follow.” As getting rid of paper has been one of the key drivers for AP automation, companies have begun to realize that the function is more strategic than initially expected.
- Presenting more opportunity for value creation: The benefits of AP automation go beyond this specific function. The report notes that by automating one process, the benefits start to snowball—what starts with AP moves into the rest of the procure-to-pay function, which in turn improves treasury, and ultimately gives organizations more insight into the financial health of the company.
- Unlocking the value of data and sparking an “Age of Intelligence”: One of the biggest reasons that it was so hard to improve AP in the first place was the sheer amount of data that needed to be managed. However, as companies implement solutions to simplify the AP process, they are learning that they can extract huge amounts of value from the ‘goldmine’ of data, using the data to unlock new intelligence.
It Has to Start Somewhere: AP Automation Solutions from Crestwood
There are a variety of solutions for automating AP, ranging in maturity and cost. No matter where your end goals are, the first step is to find opportunities to improve. As mentioned above, AP process improvement creates a ripple effect—even something as small as getting rid of paper reduces the ‘reactivity’ of the AP department, making your department more productive and strategic.
At Crestwood, we have developed two solutions designed specifically to improve the speed, accuracy, and functionality of accounts payable in the Acumatica ERP platform.
AP Inbox Assist
Our AP Inbox Assist solution for Acumatica allows you to bring in invoices directly from your email inbox, streamlining your experience, from receipt of invoice to approval and payment.
Get to know more about Acumatica and Crestwood’s Add-on Products contact us for a free consultation.