How End-to-End AP Automation Improves the Payables Process
by Ben Frank
If you’re doing accounting, bookkeeping, and accounts payable (AP) work for a business, you’re deeply familiar with the ins and outs of how your company and your vendors are partners. When they succeed, you succeed. When you improve processes, the best ones have both: benefits that roll down throughout your organization and benefits for your vendors. Experience this for yourself with end-to-end AP automation.
When you’re the best partner you can be, for your vendors, you create “stickiness” in business that improves vendor relationships for the long-term. Working together to streamline different processes, through new systems and various tools, can benefit both you and your vendors.
For instance, implementing a tool like an electronic payment portal can help both you and your clients achieve new efficiencies. The best end-to-end AP automation solutions can give you the ability to refine processes, handle large amounts of data better, and even improve relationships with vendors. Let’s dive into the advantages of electronic payments:
First and foremost, electronic payments can significantly increase the accuracy of your payments, particularly when used as part of a broader AP automation ecosystem.
Automated AP enables invoice data to enter the system with a higher degree of precision, regardless of whether invoices are PDFs, coming in through EDI, or even a photo snapshot of a paper invoice, line item data is scanned and standardized in a digital format.
This data is standardized and seamlessly processed through an automated system, which reduces the number of human touchpoints and keeps invoice data consistent. The automated process cross-checks invoice data against other information in the system, ensuring inconsistencies, missing information, or duplicates are automatically flagged for review.
By the time the payment stage is reached, your AP team can be confident that invoice data is accurate, ensuring that your vendors are paid the correct amount at the right time.
Centralized Operations and Transparency
“Did you send the check?”
Sound familiar? When operations get complicated, it’s easy for details to slip through the cracks. Depending on how you store your records and your communications, it can be difficult for everyone to be in the loop with exactly what is happening and when.
Electronic payment solutions provide greater transparency into your AP operations, making communication more straightforward.
Platforms such as Plate IQ’s VendorPay module, which is integrated with our core AP automation product, offer one centralized dashboard for all payment information. The solution links payments to a long chain of records, including a copy of the original file of the invoice, scanned and digitized invoice data, approvals, notes, and vendor history, providing users the full visibility of their payment history, status, and all other relevant details.
An end-to-end AP solution, like Plate IQ, not only centralizes the payment process, but also empowers you to meet all your vendor payment requirements in one place. Through the dashboard, you can send one vendor a check, pay another with a virtual card, and send a third vendor an Enhanced ACH payment – a much faster form of ACH payment with robust remittance detail. No matter the method, with just a few clicks, you can see the full payment record of an invoice.
This centralized approach streamlines communication, enabling your entire AP team to access transparent digital end-to-end AP history, making it easier to keep everyone on the same page.
An end-to-end electronic payment system can bring substantial time savings for your team.
Time savings start with the end of manually keying in invoice data. Next, automating the quality control work required, to ensure accurate data, enables invoices to be digitized and indexed by optical character recognition (OCR) technology, made even more accurate by machine learning, making the process much more efficient.
With features such as VendorPay, payments can be scheduled, and payment status can be monitored with automated notifications. Instead of logging into multiple portals or printing and mailing paper checks, payments can be set up easily within the platform. Improved accuracy and communication also mean that your team doesn’t need to spend time dealing with correcting mistakes.
An end-to-end AP automation solution, such as Plate IQ, even allows you to email vendors directly from the dashboard, with all the necessary reference materials and records at your fingertips. Furthermore, easy invoice capture and a transparent centralized dashboard can save your team valuable time while ensuring that your vendors are paid on time.
Electronic payments allow you to digitize the payment process with less hassle, saving your organization time and money, while keeping your vendors happy.
The traditional method of printing checks, stuffing envelopes, paying for postage, and tracking mail is not just time-consuming, it can be unreliable and expensive when you’re forced to use faster and overnight options. In addition, many vendors prefer varying payment methods. Multiplying these complexities across your vendor network, it becomes a challenge to efficiently handle payments throughout your organization.
An end-to-end electronic payment platform allows you to centralize vendor payments through one solution. You can take advantage of ACH transfers, credit card payments, virtual card payments, and even checks that are automatically printed and mailed — without you or your team needing stamps.
By leveraging the advantages of electronic payments, you can improve the accuracy, transparency, and speed of your AP process, benefiting your organization and your vendors alike.
What’s After End-to-End AP Automation?
Once you have successfully implemented your electronic payment system, and improved your relationship with your vendors, you are ready to take advantage of all of the new opportunities that come with streamlined AP. You and your team should bask in the glow of streamlined operations, of course, but soon you may be asking — what next?
There’s no limit to the number of different value-add services you can enable. One of the best parts about implementing automations into your operations is that you can explore all of the things you can do more with the time that you get back.
Tools like electronic payments and AP automation empower you to step into the role of a business advisor. With more staff time to spend on strategic tasks, you and your team can focus on more rewarding and greater impact initiatives, like turning the accounts payable department into a revenue generator.
When you’re ready to explore taking that first step with electronic payments and AP automation, consider scheduling a demo of Plate IQ’s AP automation software. Get a personalized demo for your organization today.
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