23 November 2023

For organisations of all sizes, invoice processing is unavoidable. Historically, the management of accounts payable (AP) processing has been manual, from start to end. However, with pressures rising for organisations to be more efficient and cost-effective, while remaining secure in their financial operations, the pressure to manage risk, reduce errors and streamline processes is unrelenting.

While the human element in accounts payable is undoubtedly valuable, clinging to manual processes comes at a high price – not only is it highly inefficient and resource-heavy, it also presents risk through human error. 

Accounts payable automation solutions provide a remedy for these obstacles by streamlining operations, resulting in time and cost savings, and enhanced precision. With AP automation, the era of invoice errors becomes history. Top-notch AP automation solutions such as Lánluas’ DatamationTM usher in efficiencies that enable you to empower your staff members to concentrate on more high-value tasks.

According to CPA Practice Advisor, just 10% of organisations have fully automated their accounts payable processes. Recently, especially since interest in generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT has risen, organisations have spent more time focused on automating revenue-generating tasks such as sales, marketing and product development. By harnessing AI for automating accounts payable and other administrative functions, organisations can not only streamline their operations but also reduce operational costs, ultimately leading to significant savings.

Results from a recent Lánluas survey of TechnologyOne users reinforce these statistics; only 1% of users feel that their organisation is ‘optimised’ in relation to their digital maturity. A further 32% have seen digital solutions translate directly into improvements in revenue and/or productivity, with the remaining 65% either trying to automate digital solutions but are not yet automated or fluent, or have digital solutions happen incidentally when needed and lack full executive support.*

Investment in an accounts payable automation solution can be paid off in as little as 12 months.

With process automation remaining a top priority for TechnologyOne users in the year ahead, we can expect that these trends will continue to shift as more organisations begin to understand the visibility, control and savings that come from automating processes like accounts payable.

The Typical Accounts Payable Process Today

Today, even in large enterprises, it’s not uncommon for AP processes to be largely manual. While processes do vary from business to business, it’s likely that you might recognise some of these steps from your existing AP process.

An invoice arrives, kick-starting a chain of labour-intensive activities. The accounts payable team must manually input data, cross-reference invoices with purchase orders and delivery receipts, and seek approvals via email or physical signatures.

These intricate, time-consuming procedures leave room for human error, causing frustration and inefficiencies for finance professionals. Tracking down misplaced or lost documents, resolving discrepancies, and managing piles of paperwork consumes a substantial portion of working hours. 

In this traditional accounts payable landscape, the process is mired in paper trails, delayed payments, and the constant threat of costly errors, presenting a clear need for a more streamlined, efficient, and error-resistant solution.

Accounts Payable Automation in Practice

Imagine a scenario where cumbersome, paper-laden accounts payable processes have been transformed into a seamless, efficient operation. 

With accounts payable automation, this vision becomes a reality. Gone are the days of manual data entry, endless email chains, and the hunt for misplaced invoices. Instead, invoices are automatically captured, validated, and matched to corresponding purchase orders and receipts. Approval workflows are now digital and easily accessible to authorised personnel, eliminating the need for physical signatures and ensuring a quicker turnaround from receiving an invoice to making payment. 

With accounts payable automation, the finance management team is no longer bogged down by menial tasks; they’re liberated to focus on strategic financial planning and more value-added activities.

The result? Faster processing times, reduced errors, and significant cost savings. In the world of finance, this transformation is not just a dream—it’s a reality brought to life by automation and AI.

Benefits of Accounts Payable Automation

By implementing an end-to-end accounts payable solution, your organisation can become more efficient, reduce risk, and save money, all while empowering your staff to up-skill and focus on higher-value work. Moreover, the investment can be paid off in as little as 12 months, and it seamlessly integrates with your existing TechnologyOne Ci and Ci Anywhere (CiA) system.

Here are the top 5 benefits in detail:

Enhanced Efficiency: Accounts payable automation streamlines the entire process, reducing manual tasks and automating data entry, validation, and approval workflows. This efficiency accelerates the invoice processing cycle, enabling your organisation to make payments more promptly and keep finances on track.

Risk Reduction and Cost Savings: By eliminating the risk of human errors and providing better control over the entire process, AP automation significantly reduces financial discrepancies and the associated costs of rectifying them. This not only safeguards your organisation’s financial health but also contributes to substantial cost savings over time.

Up-Skilling and High-Value Focus: With mundane, repetitive tasks automated, your staff can redirect their efforts towards more strategic and high-value activities. This not only boosts job satisfaction but also contributes to improved overall organisational performance.

Rapid Return on Investment: Accounts payable automation isn’t just a cost; it’s an investment that pays off. When working with Lánluas, clients can pay back their initial investment in DatamationTM in as little as 12 months, thanks to the increased efficiency and cost savings it brings.

Seamless Integration with TechnologyOne: If your organisation uses TechnologyOne Ci or CiA systems, the good news is that accounts payable automation can easily be integrated with your existing infrastructure. This ensures a smooth transition, minimal disruptions, and full compatibility with your current software, making the adoption of accounts payable automation a seamless process.

Overcoming Implementation Obstacles

In the quest to do ‘more with less,’ a significant challenge arises. The need for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness can be hindered by the reluctance to embrace change and invest in new technologies. 

This brings us to the need to upskill staff to have the requisite expertise in accounts payable automation. The existing workforce may resist change, fearing that their roles will become redundant or that they lack the necessary skills to adapt. 

However, overcoming these obstacles is not impossible. With the right strategies and adequate change management, organisations can navigate the path towards a more efficient and cost-effective accounts payable process, while also addressing staff concerns and ensuring a seamless transition. This includes comprehensive training and clear communication about the benefits of accounts payable automation, and the career development opportunities it presents to existing staff.

Where to From Here?

The road to accounts payable automation is one that promises not only efficiency and cost savings but also a transformation in the way your finance management team operates. Whether you’re at the inception of this journey or well on your way, the opportunity to liberate your team from manual tasks and propel them toward more strategic and rewarding roles in finance is ever-present. 

It’s time to seize the moment, embrace change, and unlock the full potential of your organisation’s financial processes.

As the landscape of finance management evolves, automation isn’t just a tool; it’s the key to a brighter, more efficient, and, yes, even more fun future in finance. So, take that leap of faith and watch your accounts payable processes flourish in the age of automation.

If your organisation is looking to implement an accounts payable automation solution, or is part way through implementing and using one, and you need a fresh perspective, contact Lánluas and speak to our expert team.

*Survey of 92 TechnologyOne users, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, July 2023

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