It’s has become much easier for business leaders to streamline their accounts and financial processes. Here are some tips and tools to get you started.
With many companies struggling under the weight of inefficient processes and tightening budgets, automating the myriad of manual admin tasks that categorise accounts payable could save your company time and money.
In Australia, Canon has found that 93 per cent of companies believe that their employees have wasted more than two hours a week on manual or repetitive admin in the past 12 months. That’s a potential loss of $3,283 to $16,415 a year.
Canon also found that two out of three organisations have not automated their AP department. In fact, just 24 per cent of organisations have implemented an automated AP system, while only 9 per cent have some automated elements in their AP process.
This is despite the fact that 61 per cent of SMBs believe that automating admin will improve their client interactions and 45 per cent of organisations have reported an increase in their invoice volumes, according to Acumen Data’s Accounts Payable Benchmark Report 2014.
Without automated AP systems or accounting software, departments are in danger of wasting too much time on administrative tasks. According to the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), which conducted research for Canon, a typical AP department takes on average 9.4 days to process an invoice.
Processing invoices is extremely manual and paper-intensive, making it costly and open to errors. So how can an automated AP solution help?
An effective AP process is valuable to any business – no matter the size or scale – as it can lift productivity within an organisation significantly.
Studies have shown that AP employees in a non-automated environment were able to process 640 invoices per month. Meanwhile, staff in an automated environment could process 3402 invoices per month.
When your business relies on a healthy and regular cash flow, this significant difference in output, as a result of automation, is vital.
AP tools to help your business
To enable effective cash management, budget optimisation and accurate financial reporting, organisations need to have visibility for incoming invoices and ensure their timely payment.
Using Canon’s automated solutions, businesses can automatically capture manual paper-based approval processes and make them available to all employees digitally.
For example, employees can digitally send invoices to their AP department to process by scanning them via their Canon devices. The Canon software validates all calculations to ensure tax and total amounts are correct. From there, the bulk of invoices are automatically processed and paid without staff having to intervene and review them.
For invoices that may be missing areas such as an approval field, AP managers can swiftly correct this by adding in the missing details. The Canon system will then remember the new approval-field details, so next time the invoices will be recognised and approved automatically.
Complex and multi-layered approval processes often cause significant grief for AP departments. With Canon’s automate solution, invoices are captured once and automatically sent to all appropriate team members, with a clear work flow detailing who’s doing what and where the invoice is in the approval process.
An automated AP system like Canon’s is able to reduce an organisation’s cost per invoice from $6.60 to $1.24, which can make a substantial difference when your business is processing thousands of invoices a month.
While it may seem like a big change, automation and effective accounting software can provide your company with vital cost savings and productivity improvements.
About the author
Heather Jennings is a Sydney-based freelance journalist and content producer with ten years’ experience writing about technology, finance, careers and workplace relations for a number of Australian news websites.
Heather has worked for publishers including AdNews magazine, Thomson Reuters, Yahoo7 and ninemsn.