Vendor Relations 101: Streamline Your AP Processing and Gain a Competitive Edge

Back office technologies like enterprise content management and automated AP processing can help you reduce costs, increase productivity and improve vendor relations – all from one system.

As the kids head back to school, it’s time for them to sharpen their pencils and for us to sharpen our focus on improving our business processes.

For starters, no one likes to be late – it drives parents, teachers, and principals crazy. So how about those late payments to your vendors? Not only does it cost you money, it can cause strained relationships with the same valued vendors who are the key to keeping your business running.

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More and more small to medium size businesses are discovering that you can significantly shorten the AP cycle – from procurement to processing to payment – by automating your AP process. There is a solution to the inefficiencies, errors and time wasted processing invoices manually.

“The reduction of paper invoices has led to significant process improvements, as more AP departments implement AP automation.  As process improvements continue to increase, leading to greater accuracy and efficiency, momentum is continuing to build for broader applications of invoice management, including the ability to approve invoices in time to capture discounts, greater visibility into spending and improved cash management.” – Paystream Advisors

According to Paystream Advisors 2013 Invoice and Workflow Automation Benchmark Report, invoices received in paper format remain the number one challenge in the invoice management process – at a whopping 50 percent.  Manual data entry and inefficient processes ranked second with 37 percent.

According to the report – the biggest challenge in the invoice management process continues to be a dependence on people and paper-based processes.  This labor intensive, manual process leads to a high number of discrepancies and exceptions, which result in low productivity and higher costs to process an invoice.  

Globally, this shift towards the goal of automated approval as the most important financial goal can be attributed to AP professionals recognizing that imaging and workflow automation serve to provide viability and improve everything from cash management to vendor relationships. Businesses realize the solution to these issues is clear. If you aren’t empowering your accounting staff to improve your AP process with technology, you need to start. Today.

With an automated AP process, According to PayStream Advisors, Inc. 2012 Invoice and Workflow Automation Adoption Benchmarking Survey, all invoice information – including purchase orders, work orders and other required documentation are centrally located and can be accessed from anywhere.

The entire process is streamlined effectively and handled electronically ensuring all workflows and individual tasks –   invoice routing, approvals and payment – are completed sequentially and on time.

Not only does this speed up your processing time, it also creates a more organized, reliable workforce. Information flows seamlessly between departments, helping to improve internal communication and compliance.

While improving the time it takes to manage your AP process, you not only free up your staff to work on more pressing items, you also eliminate the errors that can come from manual processing – including lost invoices, paying invoices twice, or incurring late payment penalties.  You can vastly reduce the time and expense it takes to process a manual invoice. The mailing, copying, faxing, emailing, physical routing…you get the picture.

Should a vendor have a question about a payment or a purchase order, all of the information is at your fingertips – ensuring questions are answered swiftly and accurately. Businesses and their vendors can quickly resolve smaller issues before they become larger problems – streamlining communication and reducing the strain on both parties.

Many businesses using cloud technologies also enable their vendors to log into their system with a vendor-specific ID so that documents can be uploaded remotely – saving a great deal of time.  Alerts can be sent to a vendor about missing information – and it can be resolved immediately.

The added bonus? You can also increase profitability by taking advantage of early payment discount incentives. You may also be able to negotiate pricing more effectively if the vendor has confidence in your ability to pay on time.

In this day and age, would you expect your high school senior to handwrite her college essay on paper and mail it to the admission’s office? Of course not. It’s inefficient and not the way the world works these days.  So why are you still operating the old way?

Ready to get started? View our DocStar ECM AP Automation 4-minute tour today and learn how you can start fresh and sharpen your business processes this year!

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Be sure to check out Part 2 of this 3 installment series – Why Your Innovation Goals Should Include Automating Invoice Processing.  And Part 3 – 7 Ways to Shorten the Life Cycle of an Invoice and Improve Cash Flow with AP Automation.