All you want to know about automated invoice processing

The first step towards unlocking growth in your finance team

We're all looking for ways to develop ourselves professionally – while we work to expand our minds and skills, we forget to also look at updating our manual processes. If your manual processes are not optimized, you could be holding yourself back from reaching your full potential. 

This is especially true for teams in Accounts Payable. In 2021, Levvel Research reported that AP employees were most responsible for invoice processing. That's a lot of time and resources used on a manual process that AP automation software can easily optimize. 

Benefits of invoice processing automation

AP automation software effortlessly solves some of the most significant challenges that Accounts Payable teams face. Invoice processing is tedious and time-consuming due to manual data entry, fixing errors, sorting through physical documentation, and waiting on colleagues to approve documents.

It can take up to 23 days to process an invoice in a company with a basic form of digital processing – this number increases to 45 days in companies entirely reliant on manual processing. The main benefits of automated invoice processing are:

  • Reduced processing time
  • Reduced volume of paperwork
  • Reduced errors
  • Reduced approval waiting period time
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased visibility
  • Saves money

Adopting AP software automation eliminates the intake of physical paper invoices and moves everything to a central online platform, which employees can easily access from anywhere. It reduces your need to hire more AP staff to keep up with the high volume of paperwork. It also helps reduce time spent on invoice processing, allowing you to focus on more strategic efforts.

Challenges of invoice processing automation

First, we must look at what keeps businesses from adopting invoice processing automation as a tool in their journey to success. In 2021, Levvel Research reported the top five reasons for avoiding adopting an AP automation solution as:

  • Lack of budget.
  • Implementation and training take too long.
  • Competing technical priorities.
  • Their current processes work.
  • Security concerns from adopting new software.

The cost of implementing AP automation software can be deterring but look at it as an investment that will pay off eventually and help you turn a profit. Training and implementation are required; however, when exploring your options, choose intuitive software. Yes, implementation takes time, but this is because it becomes customized according to your business needs – AP automation is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. 

There may be competing technical priorities, but we suggest you invest in AP automation as soon as possible as it allows you to invest your energy in more impactful tasks. Your current processes may work, but that doesn't mean they're efficient. As for security concerns, AP automation software increases visibility and security against the threat of fraud and alerts users to potential breaches in security.

Outcomes

Regarding real-life outcomes of automated invoice processing implementation, our customers have succeeded with our AP automation solution at Continia Software - Document Capture.

In 2017, Fleetwood underwent a digital transformation and implemented Document Capture, an AP automation solution we provide for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central users. They achieved ROI within one year and approximately 80%, all their invoices are now processed automatically, and they have had zero data entry errors.

Hume Housing Association faced challenges from Covid-19 and implemented Document Capture to solve this. As a result, they reduced the cost of their manual tasks by two-thirds, and eliminated paper from their AP processes completely.

Mayo Aviation was looking for a solution to help them eliminate paper. After implementing Document Capture, they are now 100% paperless and can grow their company without hiring more people to process invoices.

Basecamp had success in terms of flexibility during Covid-19. They also avoided hiring more staff to keep up with the scaling of their company – they scaled up from zero to 45 different subsidiary companies over the course of four years.

Key features

When adopting an AP automation software, you must examine which processes you need to be optimized. The key features of invoice automation software are:

  • Data capture – automatically recognizes data and places it into the correct fields
  • Approval – automatically sends approvals to the correct flow
  • Validation or matching – automatically match and spot inconsistencies in documents
  • Invoice tracking – automatically track the invoice process
  • Archiving – automatically archive completed payments and access them at any time
  • Analytics – automatically gathers and analyzes data
  • Security - automatically alerts all users to security threats

Different companies offer various products covering a range of AP processes. The best automated invoice processing software will have all the above features in one way or another – the sooner you digitalize your finance department, the easier it will be to focus on company and employee growth.

Must-haves for success

If you're not looking to implement a full-package software, there are a few must-haves in any software that you consider to get the most out of your accounts payable invoice automation:

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) - enables automatic data capturing.
  • AI prioritization – enables automatic approval and payment in recurring cases of payment or if an amount is under a specific number.
  • Cloud-based – centralized storage that enables remote access for faster approvals.
  • Mobile access – enables approval on the go.
  • Legal compliance – enables invoice processing according to country- or industry-specific standards.

These are the basics needed to succeed in your AP automation journey and enable your team to use their time on more insightful and value-added business activities. 

Invest in finance automation today for growth tomorrow

There has never been a better time to invest in finance automation for your team than now. Investing in invoice processing automation can reduce your manual tasks by up to 90% - allowing you to keep your competitive edge in the market and direct your finance department towards more valuable pursuits.

Get the most out of Business Central with AP automation

If your finance department is looking to use or is currently using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for finance and operations, we can help you in your journey to automation. Continia Software is a leading provider of solutions for Business Central. We create solutions built into Business Central, meaning that you and your team don't have to learn new software applications. 

Document Capture automates your entire accounts payable process, automating monotonous tasks, reducing paper and errors, and creating space for insightful and strategic thinking in your finance department – increasing overall job satisfaction and creating value. 

Learn more about Document Capture