Accelerating document processes and enhancing productivity

A New Tomorrow: From Data Entry to Invoice Automation

Finance and accounting departments and their processes are one of the most important and essential functions of a business. However, there are about 50% of organizations that are still wrangling their data manually. If you fit into this group, you’re not alone. But, it is important to know that there are ways to automate many processes in these departments to boost productivity and efficiency.

With over 550 billion invoices produced annually, businesses are flooded with physical and electronic documents pouring in and out of their accounting departments. This presents many challenges, especially when the processes are still done manually. With the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2021 study AP Metrics that Matter by Ardent Partners found that 97% of all accounts payable (AP) departments had been impacted, with 28% experiencing a significant or extraordinary impact. Companies had to change their processes, from employees working from home to how they paid vendors to approvals to unexpected digital transformation initiatives.

Are you below, average or above the pack in your AP processes?

According to the Ardent Partners’ Accounts Payable Metrics that Matter in 2021, the average cost to process an invoice is $10.89 and the average time to process an invoice is 10 days.

With so many hurdles to overcome in finance and accounting departments, which are usually attributed to manual invoice processes, many companies struggle with achieving these “average” costs and time. By taking the first step of digital transformation, which is to capture and extract the necessary data, businesses can accelerate many manual tasks with intelligent document processing (IDP) solutions.

Best-in-class organizations, at a minimum, are using IDP initiatives to unlock trapped data in PDFs, forms, emails and paper, for example, and turn it into a structured format. Once the data can be searched and accessed in the right format, not only can manual processes and data entry be eliminated, but companies can glean insights and make more informed decisions. Technology has advanced so much that even signatures, checkboxes and handwritten data can be captured and extracted. From here, the data can be exported into an ERP, ECM, RPA, workflow tools or line of business systems.

How Can Companies Reach the Next Level of AP Automation?

Operational efficiency is critical to success. This means – no matter what size business – shedding manual processes and automating repetitive and mundane tasks is necessary. Digital transformation and streamlining workflows will minimize lost invoices or documents, supplier questions and human errors while speeding up approvals and payments. The benefits don’t stop there – CFOs and Controllers will have deeper insights to plan and budget better using analytics and companies can capitalize on vendor discounts with on-time or early payments. The cost-savings can have a major impact on the bottom line.

Shed Efficiency-Killers

IDP solutions, such as Ephesoft, with robust functionality and supervised machine learning capabilities can reduce or eliminate the top efficiency-killers of any finance and accounts payable department, such as:

  • Manual data entry
  • Manual invoice approval
  • Lost or missing invoices
  • Missing out on prompt payment discounts
  • Duplicate payments
  • Handling paper invoices
  • The inability to capture valuable data
5 Steps to Redefine AP Automation

While any digital transformation project may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. From large global consulting and accounting firms to IT services and integrators, or going to technology vendors directly, there are many options to achieve good results. Whatever way you decide, we recommend following these high-level guidelines to redefine automation in your organization:

  1. CONNECT with key departmental stakeholders
  2. DOCUMENT incoming information flows in that department
  3. DIGITIZE incoming departmental document flows
  4. INTEGRATE information into key line-of-business processes
  5. SCALE across departments

Ready to learn more? For more information, schedule a short demo or request a free trial. And, don’t forget to see how our customers are benefiting from invoice processing.