Coming Full Circle | How AP Automation Expands the Return on Investment of ERP

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There are always ways to improve your ERP system – whether you are adding a new module or generating reports to help your business get to the next level. However, have you considered the business processes that come before your ERP?  Are there ways to improve workflow and data management that could increase efficiency and overall productivity of your ERP system?

Automating your AP process is one way to reap additional benefits from your ERP – and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune, or stress out your AP processing team. If anything, AP Automation streamlines your workflow so your teams are freed up to keenly focus on the more important business challenges and innovations facing your organization as a whole.

eclipse smart ap automation

Done correctly, AP automation supports the entire process, from invoice receipt and capture to review, approval and payment. Effective AP automation systems securely capture, process, and route your invoices automatically – from one database.

Invoices can be indexed, classified, and via workflow rules, funneled directly into your ERP - eliminating the need for double or even triple data entry. Intelligent document data capture can automatically recognize and assign vendor ID, GL and other ERP codes.

By handling an invoice once, you can automate the review process– significantly reducing human error, saving time and increasing profitability by eliminating late payment penalties and improving your ability to capture early payment discounts.   AP automation can also help improve vendor relations and customer service.erp blog quote blue 2

Getting from manual AP to a fully integrated AP/ERP solution may seem like a daunting task, but is really quite manageable when broken down into three distinct phases:


Strategy

Develop a short and long term strategy for AP Automation in your organization. Review your current manual AP processes and identify key areas for improvement.

  • How long does it take for an invoice to go from an inbox to approval, and from approval to payment?
  • What visibility is lacking in your organization
  • How could you improve cash management?

Make sure your plan includes time for transitions from a full manual process - to a hybrid of manual/automation – then to full integration. The best long term strategy – is to populate your ERP from your AP automation software directly. But don’t start there. Give your team time to fully implement each phase in order to protect your valuable data, test methods and properly set up for the best possible outcomes.


Software

Once you have a strategy in place, and get the support you need from your team, you will then need to review products. erp blog quote blueWith a number of business process automation and document management products on the market, it is important to find a partner who can help you to maximize your investment by taking advantage of what you already have – streamlined reporting, flexibility, and intelligent data capture – without doing double the work.

Many ERP systems have an AP Automation component, and many do not. There are pros and cons to both. Identifying the right AP automation vendor and solution will give you the benefit of their experience and expertise in setting up workflows and product configurations that meet your specific needs.

There are many on-site and cloud-based applications available, but either way, make sure to ask vendors about their ability to interface directly to your ERP. Sometimes this can be a simple process, and other times, very costly and cumbersome. Talk to others in your industry about what has worked best.


Support

It is important to work with a partner who understands your business and has the flexibility to grow with you. Make sure you can take advantage of the technology you have in place – whether in-house or in the cloud. Having a partner who can help establish best practices before implementing a new system can ensure you reap the rewards of new technology – without reinventing the wheel.

Make sure your vendors on both sides agree with a phased approach, and can provide you the support you need through each iteration.  With the proper management and reporting, your implementation can run more smoothly while your team learns a new way of working. It is important to be honest – this type of culture shift takes time and a whole-hearted commitment from project stakeholders.  But the payoff can be significant.

When done correctly, higher efficiency in your AP processes means reduced costs throughout your business.  By treating AP automation as a necessity – and an opportunity, your organization can unlock new ways to reduce costs, operate efficiently and stay ahead of the curve.

Want to learn more about the benefits of integrating ERP with automated AP processing? Take the docSTAR eclipse Smart AP Automation 4 Minute Tour.

by docSTAR

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