OnPay Solutions Blog

    What Is Accounts Payable Automation?

    23 January, 2020
    Is your AP automated? We ask finance professionals that question all of the time, and the answers usually vary. Most of the time, the honest answer should be "sort of." Real AP automation should remove manual processes and tedious tasks altogether - not halfway. In this blog post, we define AP automation and what it could mean for a business's bottom line.
    Accounts Payable Automation streamlines manual processes resulting in reduced paper and improved operational efficiency while reducing the overall cost associated with the department. When considering A/P Automation, two unique processes require automation:  

    1)  Payment Automation 

    Automating the payment of invoices, bills, etc. that are run through the accounts payable department is the most natural place to begin the Accounts Payable transformation. By automating payments first, you start reducing the paper that your department creates, resulting in:    

        • Faster processes & reduced bottlenecks
        • Electronic payment processing 
      • Supplier onboarding to your program* 
        • A secure digital trail for tax and internal audit compliance
        • Staff free to focus on strategic financial reporting
        • 90% lower cost 
        • Your A/P department becomes a profit-generating machine

    Payment automation services may be provided by your bank, by your ERP, or by outside SaaS organizations that deal exclusively with Accounts Payable Automation. If you are a company that utilizes in diversified banking strategy, then enlisting the support of a Payment Automation platform will allow you to maintain one process, regardless of the number of banks or bank accounts you use for disbursements. ERPs and some SaaS solutions do not support supplier on-boarding for your new electronic payment program and are not as valuable of a solution to your organization. Automating the accounts payable payments process should be able to be done in relatively short order...usually, in less than 90 days you will begin to see the shift from manual to digital processes.  

    *Your team is busy enough, don't take on this a provider who handles this. 

    2) Invoice Automation 

    Automating the incoming supplier and vendor invoices and bills that must be paid in the accounts payable department is also part of the Accounts Payable transformation process, but is harder to implement. By eliminating the incoming paper invoices, however, you will transform your department into one of the most optimized departments in your organization, resulting in:      

    • Faster processes & reduced bottlenecks
    • Automated workflows and approvals
    • Reduced footprint for the department 
    • Internal audit compliance
    • Staff free to focus on strategic financial reporting

    Invoice Automation can be provided by a new module of your existing ERP system with scanning technology onsite. Alternatively, it can be a service provided by SaaS companies that may handle your incoming invoices for you, allow you to forward them, or provide you with scanners to capture the invoices with your department. Transforming invoice automation takes a big budget. Upfront capital expenditure is usually required. Additionally, managing the implementation to transform this part of Accounts Payable Automation may take months to complete.  

    Where to start the transformation is up to you, but we typically recommend beginning your Accounts Payable Automation process by automating your payments first. It's easy to manage, makes a tremendous impact, and can turn your Accounts Payable cost center into a profit center that can pay for the invoice automation project. 

    Regardless of which automation process you choose first...we recommend that you get automated ASAP!  

    Learn more about how Accounts Payable Automation can reduce you administrative paper processes and increase your operational efficiencies.

    Payment automation can even contribute PROFIT to your bottom line.  

    Learn More About Automation

     Read, Listen or Watch more about Accounts Payable Automation and Digital Transformation 

    Editors note: this blog was originally published in 2018. It was updated on January 23rd, 2020. 


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