How Machine Learning is Transforming Accounts Payable

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Increased visibility, control, and efficiencies; reduced costs, errors, and processing times; and better use of staff time, amongst other things are all well-known benefits that accounts payable automation brings to organizations. When machine learning is added to these capabilities, it takes the benefits of automation to a whole new level.

Machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence (AI), teaches itself through utilizing historical data in order to predict future outcomes. In order to continually learn and improve, the machine-learning software utilizes algorithms to find patterns within the data. Machine learning is changing the game in many industries such as furthering immunology research to fight cancer, protecting animals from poachers, and uncovering credit card fraud in real-time.

Furthermore, machine learning can be used for Accounts Payable (AP) since there is a lot of structured data within the AP process. Utilizing the same powerful machine learning capabilities in AP that are already providing new insights and improvements within other aspects of business are allowing AP departments to experience heightened productivity, speed, and accuracy.

Accounts payable departments are still slowed down with manual processes (and low levels of automation), making it a prime industry that can benefit from machine learning. According to recent research conducted by research and advisory firm, Levvel Research, 86% of MS Dynamics 365 users are using manual workflows for invoice receipt, 77% approve and route invoices manually, 76% rely on manual or low-level automation for PO matching, and 79% still rely on manual reporting.

The time that’s spent and the costs that are incurred are significant. In an average organization, the costs of processing invoices with low levels of automation are more than 20 times higher than in organizations with a high level of automation. Organizations with a low level of AP automation take an average of five days just to move an invoice to the AP department from the date of receipt, and those without any automation take even longer. And, even once an invoice is in the AP department, inconsistencies, complicated approval routing, and manual data entry can cause further delays – which can result in lost early discounts, and late payment fees, and can negatively impact supplier relationships.

What machine learning can do for AP

By applying machine learning technology to AP, companies can gain tremendous benefits. The AI technology quickly learns how your organization processes invoices and will leverage that information to recommend or auto-apply processing rules to new and past vendors. It will also improve your AP workflow automation by routing invoices based on their keywords, coding, and vendor information. In regards to allocating costs within an organization, the AI software can automatically code vendor invoices by using historical patterns and complex suggestions, removing redundant manual invoicing processes. These improvements can significantly speed up the entire AP process and, at the same time, free up staff to work on more critical or value-added tasks.

Implementing AI-based AP automation does not mean that there will be less control of your AP processing. In fact, you will gain much more control. Automatically the system will handle the basic and manual steps and uses intelligent dashboards to notify the AP staff of any exceptions. The automated controls embedded into the AP system remain in your control. The machine strictly operates according to the rules and structures which you defined in your process.

Additional benefits of machine learning include being able to provide greater accuracy in terms of recognizing invoice data that is captured through optical character recognition (OCR) and can reduce the number of human errors that can develop throughout the process. Machine learning is intelligent enough to recognize duplicate invoices and detect other potential signs of fraud, which is continually increasing.

The software can be integrated with ERPs, like  Dynamics 365FO, enables users to leverage the valuable data that is stored there (e.g., vendor registers, tax codes, product receipts, POs, etc.) to help further the efficiency and significantly improve the amount of time it takes to process vendor invoices.

Ready to learn how you can bring machine learning into your AP organization? Since it's embedded in a highly automated AP solution, like ours, there's nothing a user needs to do! It's part of the AP automation product, constantly working for you behind the scenes to bring automated intelligence into the AP process; ultimately, helping you optimize your operations and unlock the game-changing value of AP automation at scale.


Learn more about the benefits of Machine Learning. 

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