Another Look at AP Processing and Enterprise Content Management
In Part 1 of this post, we laid the groundwork for cost-justifying an investment in enterprise content management solutions. In Part 2, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of accounts payable automation and how it helps create efficiencies and cost savings throughout the organization.
Every business deals with Accounts Payable challenges – and it serves as a useful lens through which to observe how ECM can help you gain visibility into your AP data to minimize risk and realize greater operational efficiencies.
No longer just a mundane back office task, gaining speed and access to data faster in your AP process can increase visibility into overall business financial status, and expand the scope of your business intelligence reporting and insights.
Instead of manually processing paper invoices, ECM is a platform to securely capture, process, and route your AP invoices automatically – from one database. Invoices can be indexed, classified, and via workflow rules, funneled directly into current EPR solutions like Sage ERP or Microsoft Dynamics GP. A full system integration eliminates the need for double or even triple data entry.
Intelligent document data capture automatically recognizes and assigns vendor ID, GL and other ERP codes. By handling an invoice once, you can automate the review process – saving time and ensuring your workflow is handled efficiently.
With a complete audit trail and notes all included, each employee has access to all the data they need to get their job done effectively – helping to improve vendor relations and customer service.
Being able to access all data from one system means your employees have the freedom to not only work from multiple devices and physical locations, it also means they have access to all of the information they need – wherever they may be, across the country or the world.
“The correlation between superior AP performance indicators and the bottom line is no coincidence. By enhancing existing payables processes, organizations can see the trickle-down effect to the bottom-line…for C-level executives hoping to enhance their financial forecasting accuracy and strategic goal attainment, payables is really the place to start.” Aberdeen Group, 2013
The proof lies in the real-world application
According to Capital Cardiology, a leading healthcare practice in New York State, the benefits of automating AP processing through ECM and integration with their Sage ERP system were immediately tangible, including same-day approval processes, improved accountability, reduced printing costs and accessibility to early pay AP discounts.
Capital Cardiology’s accounting controller, Denise Johnson, believes the strongest benefits are the speed and accuracy ECM can provide. “Invoices are approved the same day that we receive them – within hours of the vendor emailing the invoice,” recalls Johnson.
“We are printing less paper and the managers that are using it love it. We were able to obtain a 2% quick pay discount on one of our larger medical supply vendors,” Johnson relays, noting that this is one of the largest accounts payable they have.
AP Automation is only one area where ECM can make a substantial difference. Processes like manufacturing, procurement, customer relations, records management, sales order processing, and human resource administration can all benefit from the centralized storehouse of data ECM can provide.
Once you make take the time to clarify your business processes, you can look at areas that need automation – whether migrating paper to a database, generating meaningful reports, or creating automatic workflow and approval processes. Focus on areas where saving time or eliminating costs makes sense.
Key to making technology acquisition decisions is balancing inherent risks against potential gains in productivity, cost savings, and a potential competitive edge
It is important to lay out the plan, get buy in from all parties and implement strategically, over time.
Whether you are just beginning to automate invoice processing, or taking on the competition by implementing a full-scale ERP system, make sure you are working with a partner who can provide the experience, industry best-practices and acumen to get the job done efficiently.
There is a wealth of information at your fingertips, and many ways to use it to your advantage with the right planning and execution – regardless of your business size, industry, and comfort level with technology.
It will require time to be sure, but starting now will help you get – and stay ahead.
Want to learn how AP automation can help your organization streamline processes and cut costs? Watch our 4-minute AP Automation Tour!