IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Automate your accounts payable with a realistic start

Mon 16 Nov 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Although many organisations have been successful in achieving paperless initiatives within certain departments, statistically, most accounts payable (AP) departments still process their invoices manually.

Some of the reasons commonly given for keeping a manual process include budget restraints, lack of executive buy-in and lack of staff resources to lead the initiative.

The best first step to drive automation is an advanced capture technology to capture invoices electronically – whether originating via fax, mail, email, or electronic data interchange – and deliver them to appropriate people for reviews, approvals and coding.

The process is different depending on how documents such as invoices arrive at your office.

For example, in the paper format, scanned documents and forms are automatically indexed. Documents become immediately accessible to users thereby accelerating business processes.

When it comes to electronic document, these can be imported directly into an enterprise content management system and managed in combination with related business content.

When documents are imported, capture technology translates the relevant printed and handwritten characters on the page into words. It then digitally verifies that the information is correct and instantly updates all your other systems.

AP quality assurance

One major consideration regarding changing to an automated system must be quality assurance.

Automatically captured data can be validated against the user’s own accounting rules to ensure data accuracy. Most user-friendly solutions allow hundreds of rules to be applied. This ensures that the user organisation does not need to change the way it does business to accommodate an automated accounting solution. Rather, the automated solution should be easily customisable to match the existing processes.

The most effective solutions also include the ability to look up data already contained in a company’s existing databases, including those contained within the existing enterprise resource planning system.

This includes being able to automatically perform two-way matching of PO information to a specific invoice during the data capture phase of processing, or using captured magnetic ink character recognition code data from a check to verify customer account information.

Using this detailed database information to auto-populate and verify data fields pertaining to a specific invoice, remittance, or cheque - or to flag problems for review - creates a more complete and accurate data record that is available downstream. This increase in data accuracy also eliminates the bottlenecks previously caused by missing or inaccurate data.

At this point, once any accounting rules or automatic lookups have been applied, many invoices, remittances, and cheques are 100% accurate and can optionally bypass human verification, going straight to being posted for payment .

Beyond capture: Workflow automation

For some companies, one of the major steps is to automate the invoice approval process with workflow technology. 

Workflow management automates business processes, allowing work to be shared efficiently. It matches work tasks with the appropriate employee. Employees at every level work more efficiently because they spend more time on tasks best suited to their individual skills.

Employees won’t waste work time searching for documents or supporting documentation. Automating workflows helps put an end to low-value tasks.

The right workflow solution will integrate with current applications to foster further automation by reducing manual work effort, improving process controls, and increasing visibility into process management.

After automatically capturing information, workflow ensures the invoice gets to the right person at the right time, speeding up the approval process. As an example, automated notifications can be created so that users are reminded when an invoice is ready to be reviewed so that the invoice will not become lost or sent to the wrong person, causing delays.

The easiest processes to automate are those that are well-defined and consistent.

Companies should evaluate which processes in their organisation need systematic control and implement workflow in those cases. By using electronic queues, managers can access, prioritise, and distribute work so that projects are completed on time or ahead of schedule. Three benefits of AP workflow automation

Increased visibility using an online dashboard Dashboards provide detailed summaries for managers to assess the status of people and processes, including tracking AP specialist workload, invoices processed, approver response times, the number of invoices processed during a specific timeframe, time spent on exceptions, and invoice ageing.

The entire process is tracked and monitored, giving more visibility than paper could ever provide.

Increased collaboration In AP, exceptions are common. Manual workarounds are necessary if there’s an exception (a new vendor, non-PO based invoices, etc.). When an exception occurs, someone needs to manually determine what the exception is and how to resolve it.

By utilising technology to automate the manual, predictable parts of your processes, you have more time to focus on exceptions when they occur. Electronic notes and markup tools allow the user to ask questions or note issues when they arise.

Improve support for audits With an automated invoice approval solution, you can easily access invoices and supporting documents, demonstrate documented process controls and procedures, and show full audit tracking details for each invoice, ensuring that your next audit is completed without any problems. Challenges of implementation

As with any new technology implementation, employees must understand why changes are being made and how they’ll impact their jobs. Clearly identifying and communicating those changes before they happen, as well as during and after implementation, is essential for effective user onboarding. Operationally, you have to determine how invoices arrive and develop a plan for how you’ll import them into a business system. You’ll also need to determine what type of capture solution you’re seeking. If you work with only a select number of vendors, a template solution, which is cheaper, would be your best option. The organisation creates a template for each vendor sending invoices.

Once a template has been created, when documents are imported, the technology lifts the data off the page in those specified areas. However, if you deal with thousands of vendors regularly, a capture solution that’s template-free would be ideal. But it all depends on cost and priorities.

Budgets and priorities are other factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right solution. That means assessing immediate business needs knowing where the biggest bottlenecks lie and determining what improvements will yield the quickest ROI on time and within budget. Choosing a technology solution that can address your budget, solve your biggest pain points, and expand in the future to meet your organisation’s needs, will help you to continually gain efficiencies in your AP department for years to come.

The benefits of an end-to-end invoice automation solution are greater than creating a paperless environment. An AP department will gain an improved awareness of its work and eliminate duplicate payments while also improving vendor relationships.

By Katie Alberti, marketing specialist for Back Office Solutions at Hyland Software

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
MedCart achieves close to AUD$10 million in sales with help from Marketplacer tech
Australian health and medical start-up MedCart has achieved annual sales of close to AUD$10 million in less than 12 months, utilising Marketplacer marketplace technology to help achieve successful results.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Microsoft previews Power Platform website design offering
Microsoft has announced the preview of Power Pages, the fifth product in its Power Platform family, designed for low-code makers and professional developers.
Story image
MailGuard warns of new scam targeting Telstra customers
Telstra customers in Australia are being warned of a new scam involving "Unsuccessful Payment" messages.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Customer experience
Phone, internet complaints increase for first time in five quarters
Phone and internet complaints have increased for the first time in five quarters, according to a new telco report from the Ombudsman.
Story image
Red Sift
Entrust expands strategic partnership with Red Sift
Entrust has expanded its strategic partnership with Red Sift to make it easier for businesses to adopt Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards for email identification and security.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Boost Mobile
Boost Mobile now makes up over 7% of Aussie prepaid market
Boost Mobile has doubled its market share over the past four years and now has more than 7% of Australia's prepaid market, equivalent to over 700,000 people.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Barracuda expands cloud-native SASE platform
"The expansion of Barracuda's cloud-native SASE platform for hybrid deployment models and IIoT environments solves a number of challenges."
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Harnessing digital innovations to maximise loyalty programmes and improve CX
When it comes to the retail sector, merchants have never had access to so many different client touchpoints and data to understand their customers better.
Story image
Australian space tech startup secures SpaceX support
Space Machines Company has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner in carrying SMC's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle to space next year.
Story image
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.
Story image
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
The paradox of change, and how to get around it
The business decision to technologically transform should not come from an IT department but from the business itself.
Story image
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Consumer relationships with digital services continues to change
Two years of pandemic-induced reliance on technology for work has altered our relationship with digital apps and services, new research has found.
Story image
MEC spending for private cellular networks to reach $5.8b
A new ABI Research report finds the revenue for Multi Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments for private cellular networks will reach USD$5.8 billion by 2030.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.