Automating invoice processing streamlines workflow beyond the obvious benefit of reducing workloads by replacing a paper-laden process that requires hours of manual labor with a fully digitized process.
It turns out that automation not only reduces staff workload, but also reduces errors and the risk of fraud, according to the “AP Automation Tracker,” a collaboration between PYMNTS and Beanworks.
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Automated invoicing systems not only process orders electronically and generate the documents required in a sales transaction, but they also verify the accuracy of the calculations involved, send the invoice electronically, manage the payment transaction between accounts and send the information to a company’s enterprise resource planning. (ERP) for processing and reconciliation.
“I think anyone who writes a check for business purposes inherently knows the benefits of doing something maybe a little more streamlined because they do it all the time in their personal apps,” Shep Hickey, Founder and CEO of Bryzos, an online marketplace for third-party buyers and sellers of steel products and accessories, PYMNTS said in an interview for the report.
Checking math for errors
Highly automated Accounts Payable (AP) services can process eight times more invoices per full-time employee equivalent than those with little or no automation. In fact, a recent report found that accounts payable professionals spend nearly a quarter of their days doing tasks that could be automated, including entering billing data, fixing errors, and answering calls and emails regarding the status of invoices and payments.
By doing things like checking calculations, automated billing systems also catch errors. Most accounts payable professionals who have automated their accounting processes report fewer errors related to accounts payable. When orders and invoices are processed manually, on the other hand, the workload can quickly become overwhelming and lead to errors. In a recent report, nearly nine out of 10 accounts payable professionals said manual systems are a cause of payment errors.
Added visibility and controls
Automation can also reduce fraud. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly three-quarters of respondents said automation would make their business less vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is significant because an almost equal share of respondents said their services had received at least one fraudulent bill. They also said that with manual workflows, lack of visibility is a problem, which leads to inherent fraud risks.
Having visibility and controls in place to govern AP transactions can make fighting fraud much easier, Beanworks CEO Catherine Dahl told PYMNTS in a recent interview, noting that digitization gives businesses the ability to reap the benefits of changing the way they store valuable data, which in turn ensures that processes and permissions are digitized.
Read more: AP Automation empowers teams to think strategically when fighting payment fraud
Digitization “gives you a lot of opportunities to make sure things are accurate,” Dahl said, adding that you can add layers of compliance that wouldn’t have been possible with paper.
Some companies are reluctant to automate endpoints for a variety of reasons, including security concerns and fears of disrupting the organizational status quo. As evidence continues to mount on its cost-saving and security benefits, endpoint automation is a choice enterprises can no longer afford to delay.