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3 Guideposts on the Path to AP Automation

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The trek towards automation is no longer going at a leisurely pace. Instead, it's become a fast race to the finish-line motivated by necessity. According to CFO.com, as companies begin to see the other side of 2020s Black Swan event, they're restarting their digital transformation initiatives. They found that 34% of CFOs plan to prioritize finance digital transformation in the next year. 

Your company is on the road to accounts payable (AP) automation, or is about to be. Here we'll go over what things you should keep in mind in order to find the path forward that has the least resistance and minimizes disruptions for your team. The short answer is to find a suitable payment solution. The long answer is to find one that preserves your relationship with your banks, fits your business needs, and makes your team's lives easier. 

Our president and CEO, Neal Anderson, sat down and delved into the path of least resistance to AP automation for corporates with PYMNTs in an episode of our podcast series. 

 

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Safeguard & Maintain Your Existing Bank Relationships

Organizations with millions of dollars in payables naturally have more than a few longstanding relationships with banks. But traditional institutions like banks or ERPs don't have the agility for AP automation that modern businesses now need. Instead, a Fintech partnership with a company that lives and breathes payments and invoicing is the most effective choice.

"What a CFO needs to decide is whether they are comfortable with somebody taking possession of their money," he said. "If you've got $1 million in disbursements this week, are you comfortable having a FinTech pull that money, then disburse it to vendors?"

— Neal Anderson, Interview with PYMNTS.com

Choosing to use a payment solution partnership doesn't mean abandoning your standing banks or accounting systems. In fact, one of the easiest ways to ensure you're heading down the right road for automating your ap department is by filtering your search to exclude any solution that won't allow you to preserve those relationships. Here at OnPay, we ensure you will maintain 100% control of your funds and workflow and allow you to keep your banks and accounting system. We do this through custom integration that can be adjusted to fit your business. 

Payment Automation with Full Control Enables:

  • Complete visibility
  • Keeping your banks and ERP/accounting system
  • Separate approvals and payment responsibilities by user/role
  • Faster access to working captial
  • Speedy payment processes 

 

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Find an Accounts Payable (AP) Solution That Fits

The world has changed, and with it, so have the average finance department's needs. What those offices look like, who is in the office, has changed too.

Per a recent study by Gartner, nearly 23% of CFOs plan to shift 20% or more of their finance employess to remtote work permanently. Another 52% plan to shift 5-15% to working from home. This equals out to about 74% planning to keep at least some percentage of their employees at home, even once the economy is fully re-opened and the shut-down orders are repealed. 

Besides the increase of working from home, now and in the future, there is rising payment fraud. AFP found in their 2020 survey that 81% of companies were targets of fraud attacks — the second highest number reported in a decade. 

This is why the next thing to look for in a potential automation solution is the flexibility to allow your team to be split between the office and home while also increasing your security.

Our Automation Solution Prioritizes Security through:

  • Bank-level data security with 256-bit encryption
  • Practices monitored, verified, and supported by RSA Security
  • Data maintained in redundant tier-5 data centers
  • Information access locked by user permissions 

 

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Minimize Disruptions to Maximize Outcomes

It's important to realize that automation isn't an all-or-nothing deal. Change in this area doesn't have to be drastic or far-reaching to be effective. You can choose what to automate, and what to leave for later. For example, you can ditch paper checks, but not worry about collecting transaction data and settling invoices electronically right away.

Rather, we recommend finding an AP automation portal that allows you to seamlessly upload your existing payment files for digital storage — empowering your AP team to start small but still have a meaningful impact on the digitization journey and path to AP automation.

Still considering where to start? Check out this list of questions from CFO Daily News designed to help:

  1. Are the documents you receive and send truly electronic? It's easy to think any invoice sent through an electronic channel is an electronic document. But an image-based PDF invoice that's been scanned and emailed isn't equal to an electronic invoice in XML format. 

  2. For e-Invoices, should you focus on your end (AP team) or your vendors end? For many the objective is to make all your invoices electronic. But not every vendor will have the capability for e-invoicing or the time to enable them. A good starting point is to upload all your invoices into one accurate digital location that can be processed and organized. 
  3. For e-Payments, what’s the best tactic for vendor conversion? It's also true that not every vendor will be have the capability to receive e-payments. This is where a Fintech partnership can come in. Our team will analyze your vendor base and provide them with a range of e-payment options including ACH, wire transfers, and virtual cards

 

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Conclusion

There are many roads toward automation a company may take, the majority of which will lead to dead ends, hurdles to get over, and long detours. But it doesn't have to be like that. The guideposts gone over in this piece will help you ensure you stay on the path of least resistance and keep your journey easy while allowing you the control to plan your way forward.

CFO.com recently found that up to 80% of the traditional elements of finance, such as accounting, reporting, analysis, transacting, and compliance can be automated. As of yet, only one-third of these activities are automated in the average organization today.

Don't be one of the companies falling down in this regard. Automate your AP and stay ahead of the competition. Reach out today or keep learning and check out our podcast series to find out more about the journey to digitally transform your finance department: