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How SMBs can save money using automated accounts payable processes

24 Aug 18

Small businesses that switch to automated accounts payable (AP) processes may find that common money-loss problems disappear, leading them to concentrate on the things that boost their business.

According to SAP Concur, mismanaged invoicing practices, poor accounts payable processes and accidental duplicate invoicing are costing businesses money – and those problems are all very much preventable.

These mistakes are also diverting money away from important innovation, resource, and staffing expenses, the company says.

Small businesses that adopt automated processes can not only eliminate those errors, but also save money and increase efficiencies.

“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,” comments SAP Concur A/NZ general manager SMB, Fabian Calle.

SAP Concur also says that invoice management can be a complicated affair, as receipts and transactions are often carried out over long timeframes and distances.

Because of this confusion, businesses 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. 

SAP Concur explains three ways automated accounts payable processes can help SMBs get on top of bills, invoices, and payments.

1. Lower costs and quicker work. Manual paper processes cost SMBs 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 AP 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 cash flow, 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.

3. Increased cash flow 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 AP solutions let businesses reduce and maintain operational costs, and save the money they would otherwise spend fixing billing and payment mistakes,” Calle says.

“These systems give organisations greater insight and control over payment data, clarity and foresight regarding company cashflow, and increased efficiency, precision, and compliance abidance. SMB managers that are serious about getting on top of their billing, accounts, and payment processes must consider embracing automation.”