Accounts Payable software solves the problem of disparate systems and processes for approving invoices. Accounts Payable (AP) is a process that is widely known to be manual, paper-laden and devoid of the checkpoints necessary to minimize errors and fraud. Despite the importance of this task, it is often one that doesn’t get the proper attention it needs throughout the enterprise. Surprisingly, the one process in an enterprise that requires the most collaboration is one that seems to get the least involvement from the people vital to the process.
Once an invoice arrives, it is often sent in a roundabout way from person-to-person, system-to-system, with little regard for error checking or determining its validity. Should it require approvals, the process of validating that the signatures have been received is in fact manual. If the verification does not happen, the company can run the risk of paying a bill that should have been further scrutinized.
AP Technology eliminates most if not all these problems. Automation provides for a single point of ingestion for all invoices. With a single system in place, the collaboration between departments is seamless. Everyone can view, comment on, and verify the details on the form. Additionally, the system automates the approval process. AP Technology can request approvals from the appropriate and block payment of those that have not been approved. Thus, only invoices that have received proper approval get paid. In addition, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) eliminates processes that were once repetitive and labor intensive.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to technology that can perform the same tasks as a human under the same conditions. AI software can learn in the same way as humans. Thus, the software can digest massive amounts of information, adapt to changing scenarios, make decisions based on historical data and perform complex data analysis tasks.
Intelligent AP software uses AI to minimize manual human processing and streamline the invoice approval process. The software can create checkpoints throughout the process to make sure each bill gets the proper level of review. Not only that, AI technology makes data entry a breeze. The documents can be uploaded to the system from a variety of sources. AI technology can then parse the data and populate the correct fields into the system in real-time, and once entered, the AI tool can index the form. Using AI for indexing ensures the form can be searched and located in the system based on specific criteria. Proper indexing ultimately helps minimize the risk of losing an invoice.
Does Accounts Payable Software Eliminate Humans?
Many companies mistakenly believe that AP software is the key to slimming down the workforce to cut costs. However, the goal of AP software isn’t to replace employees, but rather to eliminate many of the labor-intensive tasks involved with accounts payable. The elimination of those tasks can allow existing employees to be more efficient throughout their day and provide more value to the company.
Accounts payable technology does wonders for simplifying tasks for employees. Data entry is no longer their primary job, instead, AP intelligence automatically extracts real-time invoice data and auto-populates the coding for AP teams to review. Not only that, but they no longer need to spend time tracking down individuals to get the information they need to release the payment. Instead, the tool automates notifications and reminders to task owners so AP staff can better communicate with vendors and other departments to clear up any issues.
AP Management software can upload large numbers of invoices in a short amount of time which makes it possible to process more in a shorter period. Due to the increased speed of processing, companies can make timelier payments thus avoiding late fees. Paying bills early may also make the company eligible to take advantage of trade discounts. Lastly, manual data entry is prone to errors. Because the software uploads the data, there is less of a chance for mistakes. That means employees can be sure they are working with correct data before they begin processing each bill.
How AP Software Fosters Collaboration
AP systems provide a channel of communication that is transparent to all required stakeholders participating in the process. Employees won’t need to waste time making phone calls or participating in long email chains should they have questions. With AP software, they can enter comments or ask questions on top of the invoice providing an audit trail, which in turn, strengthens P2P controls and accountability. Any required stakeholders who wish to contribute further information may do so via the system. Three-way matching is also simplified with AP software. The tool can request approval from the person who created the purchase order to ensure the item was delivered before it is paid.
Not only does AI help with collaboration, but it also serves as a gatekeeper to ensure everyone involved in the approvals process completes their tasks on time. The system can send reminders about due dates and block payment items that have not yet received the appropriate review and signatures.
Accounts payable software can easily import and export data as necessary. As a result, it can seamlessly integrate with other platforms. The Stampli platform works with any P2P process and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as Intuit QuickBooks®, Oracle NetSuite®, and Sage Intacct®. That way, departments who use different tools can still participate in the process while also maintaining a single source of reference for the data.
Using Artificial Intelligence in AP Software to Combat Fraud
Companies that are not currently leveraging an intelligent Accounts Payable software that is AI-based are at a greater risk for AP fraud. The problem is perpetuated by the fact that companies do not have the time or human resources to validate every invoice physically. Artificial intelligence tools take a front seat in combatting fraud. As each invoice is uploaded, AI analyzes the data on the form. The system can then use that information to spot red flags. For example, the software can use past invoices to check for address changes that might require further review. Another example includes analyzing past invoices to spot signs of excessive invoices by the same vendor or inflated invoices. The software can then notify the appropriate parties to review the issues.
What makes AI software so valuable in combatting AP fraud is the speed at which this analysis occurs. The processing happens instantaneously upon upload. Thus, companies can catch fraud before it occurs rather than playing catchup to identify other problems that may have slipped through the cracks.
AP Management Software Enhances Strategic Planning Process
Accounts payable software is more than just a tool to speed up invoice processing. With a new streamlined, transparent and efficient process, companies can begin to leverage the AP data for strategic planning. One such area is cash flow. As a single source of AP information, companies have a more accurate view of their spending. They can then use this information to identify areas of unnecessary spending to free up working capital. The ability to take a deep-dive into AP data can also help leaders ensure the money spent is going to areas that support the company’s objectives.
Stampli’s AP software features an artificial intelligence bot, more commonly known as Billy the Bot. Billy the Bot can help streamline your AP process by automating data entry, monitoring approvals and identifying areas of fraud. What’s more, you can implement this technology without an extensive implementation project. Get in touch with one of our Accounts Payable experts on how Billy the Bot can make a difference in your AP process.