Why is Accounts Payable Such a Complex Process?

Why is Accounts Payable Such a Complex Process?This post is an excerpt from our White Paper, "Accounting and AP Automation: Empowering Your Accounting Department"

In order for an organization to properly implement and utilize an electronic document and automation solution, it must understand why it needs a solution at all. By starting with a needs assessment and moving on to potential benefits, companies will see successful decision making begin to

More than searching for a vendor that offers x, y, or z it is important to look for a solution that can solve your business problems. In many cases, an organization will task an employee for identifying and cataloging multiple vendors without understanding the overall need or push for this type of solution.

It is imperative that the business answer the following questions before moving forward with the overall selection of vendors.

Streamlining the Accounts Payable Process

Searching for the right information, filling out paperwork and gathering approvals takes much more time than most management teams realize.

Accounting and finance professionals spend a large portion of each work week looking for information, analyzing and formatting it, routing it for review and approvals and finally, filing and storing it. Each step may take only a few minutes per document, but it adds up fast.

When automating workflows with ECM, organizations achieve a rapid return on investment (ROI) in the Accounts Payable (A/P) department where transaction volume is high and a backlog of paperwork can pile up quickly. To save time, reduce expenses and improve efficiency, companies should strive to automate as much of the A/P process as possible using Enterprise Content Management software with automated workflow functionality.

What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?

The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) defines ECM as: “The strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow for the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists.”

An ECM solution consists of scanning, document management and workflow technology. It integrates with the core line of business applications, including the most common financial software such as Microsoft Dynamics, PeopleSoft and Lawson. When ECM is applied in an A/P process, it captures the daily inflow of
invoices, stores invoices electronically and routes them for approval and payment. Through the technologically advanced product integration capabilities, data and information can be correlated and associated across documents, spreadsheets and databases allowing your department to leverage even greater value from its existing systems.

“There has been a steady acceptance and growth in accounts payable and accounts receivable solutions offered by ECM vendors. Routing of invoices is much faster and discrepancies can be resolved more quickly,” states Ken Chin, Research VP at Gartner.

The Cost of Inefficient Paper Processes

Most companies are trying to become more environmentally friendly, yet businesses still produce more than 4 billion pages of paper documents each year.

Every page includes hidden labor and production costs. The IDC report from 2011 stated that the volume of data being stored is more than doubling every two years and by 2020 could grow to 50 times the current amount, reinforcing the need for new ways to manage data and derive valued from it. According to the 2005 study by IDC, the following information represents the hours spent on document-related tasks in an average work week, by a typical knowledge worker - someone working primarily with information, such as an
accountant or attorney. 

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