Accounts payable: busy work? Or critical business function?
Accounts payable processes are highly transactional and typically very labour intensive. Invoice processing for accounts payable consists of time-consuming tasks which makes poor use of internal resources in an increasingly challenging labour market. Although accounts payable (AP) can seem like back office busy work – in reality, it’s the backbone of an organization.
Prior to the pandemic, many businesses didn‘t actually believe critical financial processes could be effectively run via remote and distributed models. That’s all changed.
Outsourcing AP front-end functions can be beneficial – if you choose a partner who can meet your needs. Experts at Ricoh have compiled solution values to look for when you’re considering a business process automation partner.
Digitization and AP automation
Look for a blend of intelligent capture software-as-a-service (SaaS) and process automation, coupled with robust quality control steps that meet your unique needs. Done right, AP processing improvements can help drive down overhead, help repurpose labour resources to higher functioning tasks, increase efficiency and enhance accounts payable oversight. Best-in-class AP automation processing services should provide efficient intake of both digital and paper invoices, cutting-edge data extraction tools, business rules processing, exception handling, image/data hosting and valuable analytics reporting.
With a strong digitization and AP automation solution, invoice processing can be completed in a fraction of the time with a higher level of accuracy and a strong return on investment.
Business rules exception processing
There are many common problems in invoice processing that pose challenges for AP departments and they often result in missed early payment discounts, late payment fees, vendor conflicts and lost revenue. These problems are often amplified for larger organizations with more than one AP platform and decentralized purchasing. Some of these challenges and possible fixes:
— Duplicate invoice identification: stop paying a vendor more than once by automating the identification of duplicate invoices based on a comparison of data on incoming invoices to invoices already paid.
— Unapproved vendors: most AP departments are not set up to pay invoices coming in from vendors who have provided goods and services to their organization if the vendor is not set up in their system and registered as an approved vendor. A strong business process solution should be able to provide an automated response to these unregistered vendors and provide them with the link to register and instructions on how to resubmit their invoice, saving the AP department time and having to deal with angry or frustrated vendors.
— Duplicate vendors: it is common that vendor databases have the same vendor listed multiple times with multiple contact names, addresses and account numbers. Automated processes can help to efficiently identify multiple vendors with similar names that are causing inaccuracies when matching incoming invoices to the correct account.
Integration with your technology
There is no need to invest in new technology, thanks in large part to the fact that AP automation solutions can be deployed as SaaS. Rather than investing in expensive new hardware and technology, you can utilize your AP business process partner’s infrastructure and still get the benefits of AP automation. Rather than paying large upfront costs, you can purchase the service on a subscription, as-needed basis. Don’t replace your accounts payable systems. Find a partner whose solution is designed to work with your current technology infrastructure to maximize your investment.
Centralize accounts payable
Factors like mergers and acquisitions or high growth that leads to expanding locations result in decentralized accounts payable systems and multiple AP platforms, each with its unique set of business rules and exceptions – and multiple headaches. When you find yourself dealing with this type of chaos, you may be short on required resources to help consolidate or replace the multiple platforms as you are too busy taking care of the day-to-day issues caused by the situation. Outsourcing the ‘chaos’ will free up the time of the subject matter experts on staff, to help solve and plan for an improved and integrated system.
Ricoh Enterprise Content and Workflow Services
Our solution manages your entire process, designs a solid strategy and uses a unique blend of intelligent capture and AP automation that meets your needs. Based on your specific accounts payable processing requirements, we manage each step along the way.
Benefits of AP automation
— Efficiency, cost savings and control
— Scalability for peaks and valleys
— Speed of implementation: go live within 30-60 days
— Cost controls and reductions: replace variable costs with fixed costs
— Virtually eliminate paper and disconnected systems across the accounts payable process
— Efficient managing and converting of incoming vendor invoices
— Increased financial and procurement visibility to analytics based on valuable reporting
— Little-to-no support needed from your IT department
— No replacing your accounts payable systems – we help them perform better
Offload the burden of day-to-day AP management
Focus on your key business initiatives, knowing that your critical yet time-consuming invoice processing is handled by experts.
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