Bram is the Head of Revenue of Glean.
Old school accounts payable – or ‘AP’ – processes and software tools simply don’t have what it takes to make it in today’s modern finance department.
With their lack of spend analytics and heavy reliance on manual processing, traditional AP systems bring down productivity and covertly allow cash to slip through a company’s fingers. The days of sloppy work, delays, errors, duplicate expenses, and more, are over.
Smart Accounts Payable, or ‘Smart AP’, software allows your finance team to access and analyze spend data, that, until now, has sat untapped. It’s natural for management to closely monitor revenue, or ‘money coming in’. But what about ‘money going out’?
Sixty-nine percent of businesses say they consider “smarter systems” as the key to driving success in AP. With Smart AP software, businesses can realize this success and become better guardians of a company’s capital.
Here are TEN benefits that Smart AP software brings to your finance department.
#1: Manual Invoice Processing? Kiss It Good-bye
Smart AP solves the biggest pain point that AP professionals face – manual data entry and manual payment processing. Even with the increasing use of electronic invoicing, 51% of companies still struggle with manual processing, made worse by manual invoice routing, lost or missing invoices and difficulty matching invoices to payments.
Smart AP solutions are able to automate and streamline these many processes by extracting all of the invoice data for you. While it is true that some traditional AP tools can use OCR (optical character recognition) to make out header fields (e.g., invoice number, due date, amount owed), errors are common and time is wasted checking and correcting these mistakes.
The best Smart AP solutions have 100% accuracy for header fields while also extracting very valuable line-item data. With the automated extraction of line-item data, your team can develop a critical understanding of the items being purchased, the prices being paid and the volumes being ordered.
By automating this line-by-line analysis, your finance team is freed up to perform more value-added activities, like devising cost-saving strategies and strengthening vendor relationships.
#2: Automating the Approval Process
A reported 60% of businesses struggle with delays in invoice or payment approvals. These delays can then, in turn, create a knock-on effect, delaying other important actions within the company. The pandemic has made matters even worse, pushing these delay issues to the forefront for CFOs and other finance team members.
Smart AP automates approval routing while syncing with the correct accounts in your general ledger. Budget owners are automatically notified of invoices requiring their approval while being regularly reminded to review any outstanding bills. Your finance team will spend significantly less time processing, reminding and chasing approvals, removing bottlenecks and reducing processing time by up to 74%.
#3: Less Data Entry = Less Errors
Traditional AP solutions don’t learn. You have to map account settings to your bills each time a new bill arrives from a vendor. Smart AP solutions eliminate these steps by automatically generating accounting entries at the account, class, and location levels and then posting them to your accounting system. As a result, time is saved on data entry, and the likelihood of human error when mapping charges to accounts is reduced significantly.
Worried about split bills or prepaid expenses? Don’t be. Smart AP can be set up to automatically split bills based on the vendor or create schedules of future entries for prepaid expenses.
#4: Instant Alerts to Questionable Charges
How many questionable charges slip through your AP department each week? Month? Year? As of 2020, only a quarter of businesses across the US report using business intelligence practices for expense management.
Smart AP solutions analyze vendor charges at the line-item level displaying data in real-time on clear and intuitive dashboards. Dashboard contents include MTD spend versus prior periods, new vendors, vendors with the biggest monthly increases and decreases, bills requiring approval or payment, and more. It gets better; simply double click anywhere on the dashboard to drill down and see root causes.
This incredible level of visibility into your company’s costs allows you to make smarter, more decisive spend decisions.
#5: All Vendor Info at Your Fingertips
Sixty percent of CFOs say that mastering data management is a priority, yet many still find themselves spending valuable time chasing down documents to ensure the accuracy of invoices.
Smart AP solutions create a centralized repository for all relevant vendor documentation, including invoices, contracts, and purchase orders, that is easily accessible by approvers and AP staff. With this ‘single source of truth’, you are able to remove data silos and improve the accuracy, quality and integrity of your information.
#6: Confident Approvers Are Fast Approvers
Bills are often presented to ‘approvers’ with virtually no context: No information on the vendor, the length of the relationship, how the bill compares to prior periods, etc. etc. No wonder many approvers feel apprehensive and either delay granting their approval or “batch” their approvals to be handled at a later date.
Imagine if budget owners could easily compare bills, see line-item details, review vendors, and much more, all by clicking a dashboard. Approvals would be issued with greater confidence – and at greater speed – decreasing turnaround times and frustration levels.
Smart AP solutions, and their ability to provide context and visibility, create approval confidence, which benefits not only your finance team but all teams within the organization.
#7 Team Collaboration Leads to Optimized Vendor Spend
The planning that surrounds vendor spend is often done in silos, within the individual departments that engage with vendors, and with little input from others. By the time the bills hit the AP team’s desk for payment, it’s often too late to determine if the spend was appropriate or within budget.
Smart AP solutions allow finance teams and budget owners to plan, discuss, manage and optimize vendor spend together, in real-time. The insights generated by Smart AP software allows the important ‘what, why, when, and how’ questions to be asked and answered in advance of any financial decision-making. Smart AP puts an end to surprises and wasteful spend.
#8: Vendor Negotiation: Use Data to ‘Up Your Game’
Without data, you enter every vendor negotiation blind. Is that great deal really so great? Does your order history warrant special discounts or preferential treatment? Traditional spend management tools do not offer these types of insights, and finance teams often miss out on opportunities to negotiate better terms from vendors.
Smart AP solutions not only collect line-item pricing data from your records, but also share benchmarking data from the entire industry with their customers. This type of industry data is invaluable when negotiating contracts or sanity-checking a supplier’s pricing terms. Smart AP allows your company to up your negotiation game.
#9: Taking Back The Lost Hours
A typical company will take up to 10 days to process an invoice; even those considered ‘best-in-class’ will take up to 3 days. By removing manual steps from the AP process – from invoice receipt all the way through to payment – processing time can be reduced to minutes.
With end-to-end automation, centralized documentation and automatic insights to guide internal inquiries, your AP team will be able to save hours, or even days, of work each month. Think of all the proactive, exciting initiatives you’ll now have time for once the menial work of AP processing is removed from your plate.
#10: Cha-Ching! Smart AP Saves Money
Smart AP solutions, powered by detailed analyses at the line-item level, allow you to more easily, and quickly, identify wasteful spend. Not only that, armed with big-picture context on your spend, your AP team is empowered to ask better questions and hold your company’s spenders more accountable.
With Smart AP, your business can manage high growth rates while staying ahead of cost-saving opportunities and achieving a competitive advantage.
Glean is the Best Smart AP Solution on the Market
With Glean, you can realize all ten of these benefits with one AP solution, customized for your business.
At Glean, we automate your AP workflows and scrutinize invoices, at the line-item level, to unlock spend intelligence. With contextualized analysis, you’re alerted not only when invoices are different or warrant investigation, but you’ll also learn why.
By using smarter technology, you can understand your cost drivers, ask budget owners informed questions, and instill a culture of spend accountability within your organization.
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