How SMEs can save money using automated accounts payable processes

Many  SMEs are losing money due to preventable mismanaged manual invoice practices, poor accounts payable (AP) processes, and accidental duplicate invoicing. This creates unnecessary expenses around fixing mistakes, processing late payment fees, and checking bills that have already been paid. This money would be better spent on important staffing, resource, and innovation expenses. Companies should adopt automated processes to eliminate common AP errors to save money and increase efficiencies.

Invoice management can be complicated for businesses to manage, with receipts and transactions sometimes spanning long timeframes and geographical distances. An unfortunate side-effect of invoice data confusion is that organisations can mistakenly categorise bills, misplace invoices, misinterpret documents and numbers, wind-up financially compensating for overdue payments, or even end up paying the same bill twice.

Manually validating invoice data and matching invoices to related documents is costly and time-consuming, so it’s critical organisations offer the right tools, technology, and mindset to support staff in AP processes, and to ensure precise, accurate bill management.

Automated AP processes can help SMEs get on top of their bills, invoices and payments in three ways:

1. Lower costs and quicker work. Manual paper processes cost SMEs money, because staff take longer to perform paper-based tasks, and company funds are far-too-often used to chase up missing documents, replace damaged files, or pay late-payment fees. Automated Accounts Payable processes significantly speed-up payment and billing processes, letting staff focus on more meaningful work, and saving money.

2. Human error reduction. Paper-based AP processes are more likely to cause errors such as overpayments, duplicate payments, and late payments. Manual processes result in drawn-out invoice processing times, which make it difficult to get an accurate picture of company cashflow, or any opportunities for early payment discounts. Organisations need to embrace automation and digitisation, for quicker and more precise AP performances. Automated systems categorise and process documents, receipts, invoices, and bills consistently, and, unlike manual processing, they won’t accidentally misplace or damage essential documents. And, security-wise, automated AP solutions won’t compromise the integrity of classified and private data, in the way non-compliant staff might. This particularly useful for organisations who are adjusting their document and data management to fit recent Notifiable Data Breach (NDB) Scheme.*

3. Increased cashflow visibility. A lack of visibility into invoice and payment data is a top AP challenge for many businesses.** Financial leaders need full insight into all areas of company accounting, expenses, and invoice management to process billing and payments effectively. Automated AP systems give managers visibility into company accounting, and helps financial decision-makers develop more comprehensive business foresight and planning strategies, based on costs and incomes. This means organisations can pinpoint areas of error and oversight in the AP process, saving time, and money, in the long term.

Automated Accounts Payable solutions let businesses reduce and maintain operational costs, and save the money they would otherwise spend fixing billing and payment mistakes. These systems give organisations greater insight and control over payment data, clarity and foresight regarding company cashflow, and increased efficiency, precision, and compliance abidance. SME managers that are serious about getting on top of their billing, accounts, and payment processes must consider embracing automation.

Fabian Calle, General Manager – SMB and Nationals, SAP Concur ANZ

* https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/privacy-act/notifiable-data-breaches-scheme
** http://ardentpartners.com/2016/04/smbs-getting-started-with-ap-automation/

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