Some best practices are common sense, and some are more technical. Regardless, the first step, after making note of what the best practices for your field are, is to decide where to start.
Eliminating paper by automating & digitizing payments
Streamlining processes & workflows
Enabling no-touch payments & remote AP
For more information on the why behind these AP best practices, check out our free and educational AP Automation and Best Practices Guide.
Without further ado, let’s dive into what order you should implement these steps.
1. Invoice Automation
When most finance professionals hear ‘AP automation’ they think of Invoice Automation. It’s part of what makes it the natural place to start. In fact, you’d be surprised how many think they already have invoice automation.
It’s easy to see a process that involves printing and scanning emailed invoices and to conclude that your process is electronic and automated. In reality, this still a manual process that only has the illusion of automation.
True invoice automation takes the process almost entirely out of human hands. The right solution will automatically turn emailed invoices into digital invoices and enter them into an electronic workflow. It will also give you and your firm complete control over the entire process and allow you to assign and manage who has permissions to do tasks such as approving invoices, raising flags for errors, and updating information.
Invoice automation is more efficient, and most steps don’t require you or your team to enter or monitor anything. As a bonus, fully automating invoice processing removes most — if not all — of the risk for fraud in this area.
2. Eliminating Paper Payments
Removing paper invoices and manual processes is only part of the process of fully removing paper from your AP department. The next step is to eliminate your paper payments, chief among them, your paper checks.
Paper payments go hand-in-hand with convoluted processes, and you’ll find your finance team can operate much more smoothly without it. In a small amount, paper is an annoyance. In an enormous amount, it quickly becomes an insurmountable obstacle for your team.
Once you’ve taken the step of removing paper payments, for one of the better methods explored here, it’s a hop and skip further to automate them.
Automating payments, and largely removing the human element, not only saves time by eliminating wasteful activities and cut costs — it largely decreases mistakes. A duplicate payment, reviewed manually, can slip through the cracks and get approved. The right payment solution ensures this scenario does not happen.
The more steps involved in any process, the better chance there is of a mistake. Reduce the steps of your payment process and leave the human element to only the most essential, by digitizing and automating your payments.
Our Cloud-Based Payment Solution:
Is accessible 24/7 for you & your vendors
Provides a transparent view into your cash-flow
Empowers you to set permissions for users
Increases security to prevent fraud
Per Business Insider, 44% of firms intend to add automation to their payable processes. Don’t fall behind the competition! We can get your systems integrated and automated quickly and without burdening your IT staff.
3. Streamline Processes
Automating invoices and payments by themselves will help streamline your AP processes, but it doesn’t stop there. The right platforms allow you to customize your workflows, even as you automate them. Which means, it’s in your control to decide what steps are essential and what automation can replace to increase efficiency.
Smartsheet calculated that 25% of the average work week is devoted to repetitive and manual tasks as part of outdated workflows.
For example, you may have automated your invoices and payments, but still have asked your team to manually gather data and create tracking reports. This is not only a careless use of their valuable time, it creates data silos that obscure the big picture. Making forecasting and planning for future success difficult. It creates a scenario where you can’t see the forest for the trees.
A good place to streamline is to choose a platform that provides data and handles the tracking for you. Our cloud-based AP solution enables real-time business analytical reporting and tracking from anywhere, at anytime. Gain the ability to:
Track payments by payment types
Access complete historical payment & invoice data
Find account history by user interaction
View and manage your list of approvers with time stamps
4. Focus On Increasing Security
Security has never been more important, and thankfully, it’s never been easier to increase security for businesses and financial leaders who will take the leap to digital transformation.
Preventing fraud doesn’t end with eliminating paper checks or with automation. It’s also essential that you, and your team, have the right mindset.
Trust your gut - don’t ignore suspicions
Limit mistakes by limiting rushed decisions made under pressure
Take action to resolve problems
Make everyone accountable
To get more information on how to fight B2B payment fraud, check out our free ebook on the topic.
5. Embrace No-Touch Payments & Remote Functionality
Working from home is a trend that began in 2020 that shows no signs of fading away.
Digital transformation has become a top priority for CFOs and their companies, and with good reason. The majority of working professionals want to work from home, in some capacity, and industry leaders have been quick to get behind the trend.
According to a survey of CFOs, post-2020, 74% of respondents intend to keep at least some percentage of their finance employees at home permanently.
Considering this trend towards high tech, low touch work environments, it’s imperative that your department adapt to allow your staff the flexibility to work from home or from the office. As an added benefit, enabling remote work, also decentralizes your finances — a top finance trend in 2021. It makes it easier to monitor and manage cash flow and workflows.
Our team cares about our clients’ success. We allow you to maintain 100% control of your funds and processes and approval permissions, while empowering you to keep your existing bank(s) and accounting system.
There’s never been a better time to make a plan and work your plan. We’ve gone over AP best practices, and provided tips on how to tackle them through invoice automation, payment automation, and by streamlining processes, increasing security, and enabling remote working. The only thing left to do is find your perfect partner!
Here at OnPay Solutions we treat our clients like family and offer all the solutions mentioned above and more. Our solutions reduce accounts payable costs, save time, deliver the highest security protections, and provide you a transparent trail for auditing.
If you’re ready to start a conversation about advancing your AP department forward with our help, reach out today.
Interested in learning more? Check out these related resources:
AP Guide, Chapter 3: AP Solutions & Best Practices
Blog: Why It’s Time to Stop Talking and Start Transforming
AP FAQs & Definitions