In Part 1 of this series, we imagined a world where buyers and sellers do business electronically, without paper invoices, counted all of the pain points that manual invoice processing causes, and wondered why U.S. companies have been slow to adopt electronic invoicing?
In Part 2 , we explored some of the reasons why the reluctance to get rid of manual, paper-laden workflows in favor of automation.
In Part 3 we put the numbers to it and summarized how AP leaders can optimize their operations while electronic invoicing achieves broader adoption.
We conclude this series by revealing the top reason why AP departments are making big strides towards full automation, despite the sluggish adoption of electronic invoicing. Spoiler alert: Look to the Cloud.
Embracing cloud-based best-in-class solutions
The percentage of AP departments that use cloud-based solutions, such as the award-winning best-in-class Yooz AP automation solution, more than doubled between 2018 and 2019 (from 22 percent to 49 percent). That’s according to Levvel Research’s 2019 Payables Insight Report: Understanding the Value of Holistic Invoice-to-Payment Automation for Enhanced Business Outcomes.
Levvel Research notes that the best cloud-based solutions are increasingly flexible, dynamic, and affordable. With a cloud-based solution, AP departments do not need to overhaul their legacy ERP system in order to accommodate an invoice approval feature that their ERP does not support. Yooz, for example, seamlessly integrates with more than 200 ERPS.
Cloud-based solutions also reduce costs, improve control, and speed cycle times with capabilities such as real-time access to data, mobile applications, and supplier self-service portals.
Cloud-based solutions also offer many of the same features in electronic invoicing platforms:
- Purchase order workflow automation
- Automated data capture and validation
- Matching of invoices and POs
- Straight-through, hands-free posting of approved invoices
- Invoice workflow automation
- Electronic payments
- ERP integration
- Reporting and analytics
The rich functionality of cloud-based solutions provides a foundation for automating the procure-to-pay (P2P) life cycle end-to-end—from PO requisition through payment settlement and reconciliation.
Importantly, best-in-class cloud-based AP solutions digitize and standardize the processing of invoices, regardless of the format (paper or electronic) or the delivery channel in which they are received. This means that cloud-based AP solutions uniquely bridge the gap between traditional paper invoice processing and the emerging electronic invoicing environment. Therefore—as we learned in Part 3 of this series—finance leaders do not need to wait for electronic invoicing to gain ground in order to reap the many financial and operational benefits of AP automation.
Additionally, cloud-based AP solutions do not require any behavioral change on the part of suppliers; the solutions can efficiently process supplier invoices submitted in any format.
And cloud solutions offer optimum security:
- As soon as you scan the document into the system it moves securely through the workflow and stored securely in the Cloud. The original document can then be shredded.
- Documents stored in the Cloud can only be accessed by those with login credentials, whether it be to view or approve. Users are also able to see the history of the document, who has accessed it, who has approved, where it is in the workflow.
- Access permissions can be set by department managers according to the dollar amount and/or sensitivity of the documents, so only those approved will virtually “touch” the document.
- Again, once the document is in the automated system, it goes all the way through the process electronically, including being exported to the secure ERP.
The best cloud-based solutions empower AP departments to achieve completely paperless—hands-free—processing, same-day invoice approval, mobile access to invoice approval and communication, early payment discount capture, and supplier participation and enablement.
Now is the time to automate your invoice processing workflow. What are you waiting for?
*This blog series is based on the Yooz whitepaper Why Finance Leaders Shouldn’t Wait for Electronic Invoicing, available for download.