Paying invoices is the primary function—and ultimate goal—of accounts payable (AP) departments. But the process to pay invoices is often far more complicated than it needs to be. Paper slows everything down. Matching invoices to purchase orders is complicated. Invoices get lost while waiting for approvals—and are sometimes never found.
The entire process winds up being slow, painful, and difficult to control. As a result, it’s a struggle for AP to actually be able to pay invoices on time. And paying invoices late comes with consequences—including late fees and damage to your organization’s reputation.
AP automation—digital document and process management for AP—can change all of that. Here, we detail the answers to the most common questions we receive from organizations interested in automating AP. We hope it helps you decide if electronic document management for AP is the right choice for your organization.
How does document management help AP departments?
Document management is the process of capturing, managing, and distributing documents digitally.
AP departments choose document management to revolutionize their processes. With an electronic document management system, you can capture invoices digitally—no matter how they entered the organization. Once invoices are digitally stored, they can be automatically routed for approval—without ever entering paper form. You’ll gain visibility over the approval process and, if a bottleneck emerges, you’ll be able to promptly track—and shut—it down. As a result, AP departments like yours will pay invoices faster and wave goodbye to the consequences of late payments.
Is there a way to capture invoices and checks automatically?
Absolutely! Capturing invoices can be as automated as you want it to be.
There are three different levels of AP automation. The base level is optical character recognition (OCR) and barcoding. At this level, you scan invoices into the system, and the system recognizes certain characters and barcodes. The next level up is application integration. At this point, your system integrates with existing applications and automatically capture invoices as they come in. The top level of automation is intelligent capture. At maximum automation, your system will automatically capture, classify, and recognize invoices—without any manual effort.
The right level of automation depends on the size of your organization and your volume of invoices, among other factors. The HelpSystems experts can help you determine which level of automation is appropriate during a consultation.
Can we do two-way or three-way matching?
Of course! As long as you have the right level of access to your systems, you can match your invoices to POs and more in next to no time. We’ll go over matching in greater depth during your consultation, once we discuss your processes and needs.
Will we still need to enter data from invoices manually?
Nope. An electronic document management system is smart. Even at the simplest level of automation, data can be captured off the invoice using OCR and then update directly into your ERP. Alternatively, you can use the system to create an export file to import to any system.
How will our approval processes work?
It’s simple, really. The right electronic document management software comes with a built-in workflow routing system. The system will automatically route invoices to your designated list, without any manual effort from you. Since this process can be handled digitally, documents won’t get stuck on someone’s desk. Plus, you can define time limits for approvals and actions to take if a bottleneck emerges—whether it’s to nudge the bottleneck or skip it entirely.
All in all, the system does work of following invoices around for you—and you’ll be able to switch your focus to other tasks.
Will we really get approvals faster?
Definitely! By setting time limits and routing invoices electronically, you’ll get approvals faster and ensure that invoices don’t get sidetracked along the way. You won’t need to run around your organization looking for invoices. Bottlenecks will no longer be a factor. And invoices will sail on from receipt to approval much more efficiently.
What’s the most important thing to do when automating approvals?
The most important thing to do is the first thing you should do: define your current processes. What are you doing now? How are you capturing, managing, routing, and paying invoices? Where is the process slowing you down? How do you want your processes to improve?
Don’t worry—you don’t have to figure this out all on your own. We can help you walk through this first step during your free consultation.
Can we really ditch the paper?
Yes! Invoices are increasingly delivered digitally. Even invoices that enter your organization as paper can be captured electronically as soon as they come in. So, your process may start with a paper invoice, but the paper goes away as soon as you capture the invoice into your system.
When you have the right electronic document management system, invoices can go through their processes without involving any more paper.
Will AP automation help facilitate check requests?
AP automation gives you two options for handling check requests.
For option #1, you create a template in Word, Excel, or a fillable PDF. Then, the user fills out the template and submits it into an automated approval workflow.
For option #2, you create a web-based form using your document management system. The user accesses, fills out, and submits the form via a browser. The benefit of this option is that you can enforce how and what is filled out to ensure that you get the information you need the first time around.
Why should we choose a HelpSystems document management solution for AP?
AP automation is about so much more than software. It’s about your organization’s unique processes—and especially your AP department’s processes.
Here at HelpSystems, the conversation begins with you. We want to know what you’re doing with your invoices now and what you need in your AP automation project. From there, we can help you determine which level of automation is right for you and the best way to get started on your implementation.
So, how do we get started?
Getting started is easy. Simply request your consultation. We’ll talk through your processes and discuss how you will benefit from an AP automation project that meets your needs.