Studies show that best-in-class companies outperform other businesses by automating their invoicing processes, and other key business processes, with document imaging and workflow stems. According to Aberdeen Research’s “Invoicing and Workflow” study, businesses that automate their account payable operations reap significant advantages—including processing their invoices significantly faster and at much lower cost.
For companies that fail to automate, the study found, “Paper invoices and manual processing continue to hamper accounts payable operations, keeping suppliers in the dark and failing to give accounts payable the visibility it needs to actively manage organizations’ cash positions.”
Best-in-class companies, on the other hand, overcome this impediment by pursuing “comprehensive accounts payable automation to drive continued performance improvement.” The end goal is to maximize the impact of automation on all accounts payable processes, from receipt to scanning to approval workflow through payment.
How well does automation improve invoicing operations? According to Aberdeen’s research, best-in-class companies outperform their peers by a considerable margin, taking 3.8 days and a cost of $3.09 to process an invoice vs. the industry average (middle 50%) of 9.7 days and $15.61 per invoice. For the bottom 30%, it takes 20.08 days at a cost of $38.77 per invoice.
Respondents who implemented document imaging and workflow automation reported 21% lower invoice processing costs than others, while also securing early payment discounts on more than twice the number of transactions. Further improvements, the study found, can be gained from integration with back-end financial and ERP systems and the use of performance-monitoring dashboards.
A Surge in Workflow Deployment
Aberdeen Research’s findings jive with those of PayStream Advisors’ latest “Invoice and Workflow Automation” survey, which showed that electronic invoicing and automated workflow are both experiencing increased adoption, as more companies strive to migrate from a manual paper-based invoice system to an efficient automated system.” As PayStream Advisors notes, “Skeptics may still doubt the ROI of automated approval workflow, but it is getting harder to defend that position in the face of the facts.”
PayStream Advisors’ study, which surveyed 500 accounts payable professionals, showed that the top three financial automation technologies that have been most useful include eInvoicing, workflow, and front-end imaging/OCR. Electronic invoicing and automated workflow are the top automation goals for accounts payable in 2013, the study showed.
The number-one benefit cited for approval workflow was the quicker approval of invoices (76 percent), while one-half were able to increase employee productivity, and nearly 60% reported lower processing costs.
As PayStream Advisors notes, invoice processing can be expensive and time consuming when performed using manual processes and paper documents, while electronic invoicing and automated workflow can lower costs and speed up processing.
Overall, more than one-half of companies that adopted eInvoicing solutions cited a reduction in labor or processing costs and faster approval cycles as key system benefits, as well as greater visibility into spending, improved cash management, and an increased ability to capitalize on early-payment discounts.
As workflow technology becomes easier to deploy and more affordable, including software-as-a-service offerings, more businesses are able to obtain the benefits. As PayStream Advisors reported, “The market for electronic invoicing and automated workflow continues to open up as adoption trickles down from large organizations to small and medium enterprises.”
About Vision360 Enterprise and BlueCreek Software: BlueCreek Software is the developer of industry leading accounts payable automation system, Vision360 Enterprise. Vision360 Enterprise provides accounts payable automations services, systems and solutions to leading companies across the United States and Internationally. For more information about our Vision360 Enterprise accounts payable automation solutions please contact us www.Vision360Enterprise.com or call (603) 437-1400.
With all Finance has to get done in a given day sometimes it’s hard to find the time to step back and track how efficient and effectively your department is running. Finance deals in numbers all day. But how often are you generating numbers to find out how efficient your finance team is?
But benchmarking is more critical than ever. By monitoring your functions’ performance you can determine where you can streamline, boost efficiency (and possibly cash flow) and incentivize staffers to do an even better job.
So what are the best metrics out there? Here are a few to get you started. How many of them are you currently using … and how many more could you be?
The last thing you want is for people to think you’re trying to “catch them” doing something wrong in their jobs. Better to position metrics as a way to raise the bar and a springboard to figure out what needs to most attention.
Please share any additional metrics you are using today!
Let's face it, processing supplier invoices can be a daunting task and in some cases a smaller accounts payable department can feel the "invoice processing pain" simply due to a lack of resources more so than larger companies who may be drowning in shear volume of invoices. Either way the steps of processing, routing, matching, approving, coding, entering and paying invoices is error-prone, labor intensive and in-efficient. So what do you do if upper management isn't onboard with accounts payable process improvements or invoice automation?
Here are a few ways that being organized and following standard processes can help.
1. Don't pay from invoice copies. This can lead to duplicate AP transactions and payments. If you have to pay from a copy, be sure to check your records for the same invoice number and dollar amount.
2. Make sure you have a W-9 on file BEFORE paying a vendor. This will save a lot of hassle at year-end when you need to prepare 1099s. Fines for not complying with 1099 reporting can be hefty and the rules change from time to time.
3. Have rules about how invoice numbers are formatted and entered. If accounts payable team members are all using their own rules about entering invoice numbers (like what to do with leading zeros), it will be difficult to track down anything. Also, make sure you have a policy for invoices that don't have invoice numbers on them.
4. Segregation of duties! The person entering the invoice should be different from the person approving the invoice who should be different from the person signing the check.
5. Centralized receipt of supplier invoices. Okay, so this is easier said than done however, having all invoices come to the accounting department first before being sent out for approval(s). This way the invoice can be logged before it enters the black hole.
6. Enter invoices one at a time. Do not enter invoices as a batch. Each one should be entered individually in order to have an audit trail.
7. Coding of invoices. All invoices should have the G/L account coding written on them as well as any notes about special handling.
8. The amount of the invoice should be entered as billed even if you don’t plan on paying the full amount. A credit memo can be entered and matched against the invoice later. The key is to remember the audit trail.
9. Have a new vendor welcome letter that you can send informing them of where invoices should be sent, what information you require to process their invoices (like a vendor ID number) and any forms you need completed. Vendors will appreciate the information to ensure their payments aren’t held up.
10. Watch your payables carefully to take advantage of any discounts being offered by vendors. It can add up to a nice sum by the end of the year.
11. Setup your vendor files alphabetically and file your paid invoice as soon as completed.
There are many more ways to ensure a smooth accounts payable process if upper management won't go for process improvement. Feel free to list your own ideas that may help others looking for ways to make their accounts payable process better.
A typical day in accounts payable is anything BUT typical. A day in accounts payable should really be called, Mission Impossible! Why you ask? The accounts payable department and responsibilities of the AP staff go well beyond paying bills.
A few of these tasks include opening mail, sorting invoices, matching, getting approvals, coding, entering invoices, check runs, answering calls, filing paper, dealing with closes and audits. With everything that's going on in an accounts payable department its no wonder that keeping track of invoices can be a challenge and chasing down invoice for approval can even be more of a headache.
Here are 3 ways email reminders can help make life better and keep your payable process on track.
1. Email alerts let approvers know when NEW invoices arrive that require review and approval. The approver simply opens the email and clicks a link within the email. The link then brings them to the invoice or invoices that requires their attention.
2. Email alerts can also notify and escalate invoices that have gone untouched for a predetermined amount of time to manager for approval. Example, an invoice arrived from a supplier that offers a 5% discount if the invoice is paid with 10 days. Unfortunately, the approver had been out on vacation and didn't see the first email alert. So an email notification and automatic escalation sent the invoice promptly to a next level manager that was able to approve the invoice and take advantage of the 5% supplier discount.
3. Email alerts eliminate the need for accounts payable staff to waste valuable time chasing down invoices only to hear that the approver never received a copy or that they sent it to accounts payable and AP lost the invoice. With email alerts and escalations gone are the days of the "blame game" where accounts payable is caught in the middle.
By utilizing email alerts as part of a comprehensive accounts payable process improvements initiative departments can expect to realize a significant level of improvement, reduction in manual steps and peace of mind.
Vision360 Enterprise helps companies of any size to improve their accounts payable process. Whether you have one accounts payable clerk to a full shared service center, entry level or global enterprise, Vision360 will help you reduce and eliminate the manual processes associated with receiving, routing, coding, approving and entering invoices.
Vision360 Enterprise will save you time, labor and increase efficiencies across your organization.
We all know how important it is to keep customers happy. Don’t meet their needs or make them mad and they may leave you. Even worse, their comments may cause others to leave with them. Just like customers, you also need to keep vendors happy. If you don’t you may find your credit line cutoff and that you cannot get essential products and services. Imagine what happens when you cannot get the product you need to sell or use in your manufacturing process.
Pretty soon it impacts your company’s ability to satisfy customers. The accounts payable days analysis is a statistic you can calculate that indicates how good of a job you are doing managing accounts payable and keeping your vendors happy.
Days payable outstanding (DPO), defined also as days purchase outstanding, indicates how many days on average a company pay off its accounts payable during an accounting period.
Days payable outstanding means the activity ratio that measures how well a business is managing its accounts payable. The lower the ratio, the quicker the business pays its liabilities. It also shows the average payment terms granted to a company by its suppliers. The higher the ratio, the better credit terms a company gets from its suppliers. From a company’s prospective, an increase in DPO is an improvement and a decrease is of course, "not good for business and cash flow".
Value is a two-way street. Of course, vendors want to provide their clients with the best possible return on their investment. But they're a business, too. If a client makes a project difficult to staff, hard to schedule and costly to execute, more likely than not it will affect the initiative's outcome and value negatively.
On the flip side, though, there are clients, even very large ones, that help vendors get through their internal processes, bureaucracy and political hurdles. Clients that smooth the way for vendor teams internally are going to get a superior value from their investment in our services. Effort will be spent on the work the vendor was hired to do, not on jumping through hoops. The vendor staffs up, their people get to work and they are able to focus – which always results in better quality and value at the end of the day.
Once negotiations are closed, vendors want to shift their focus from winning the business to meeting the goals and expectations of their client. Yet they sometimes encounter major delays, bureaucratic hurdles and work stoppages based on internal processes and politics. This only hurts the client's project, yet it is often caused by the client organization's own internal structure and approach to management.
So. Look at your vendor management processes. Would you want to work with you? Are you making your vendors happy? Do they have a fast-track, once you've signed with them? Or do they have to navigate a complex system of approvals and oversight? Are your schedules in alignment with theirs? Do your internal teams understand what's going on, who's involved and what the goals are? How many levels of management do they encounter? Do they have a point-of-contact with authority?
Vendors usually expect to navigate these processes with every client. Even giant companies with hugely complex internal systems and challenging politics can get great value from their vendors by providing them with the tools and management resources they need from the start. As businesses invest millions into their technologies, and vendors do more and more of the work, any organization that engages with technology vendors on key initiatives risks a great deal by failing to be good to work with.
In a recent study by the Institute of Financial Operations (IFO) on Accounts Payable Automation, over 95% of the respondents said they still receive paper invoices in the mail. It is 2015, it is time for your company to improve the way you company processes incoming invoices.
By now you have probably heard that Accounts Payable (AP) processing isn’t as efficient as it should be. You probably have heard the risks of misplacing invoices, not paying them on time, the time it takes employees to file and retrieve these invoices or documents, and much more. You are more than aware that AP automation will give you the efficiency, cost controls, visibility, and accuracy of information that your industry demands to be successful.
Our ERP System Can Do That - While your ERP or accounting system might have an accounts receivable module, they notoriously lack the functionality, control, insight, and automation required to support the accounts receivable management process. ERP simply were not built for accounts receivable mangement; some of the major issues with managing A/R in your ERP module include their inability to handle disputes and dispute resolution, the need for additional dependent modules, the lack of sophisticated reporting, the need for outside applications and spreadsheets to fill functional gaps, their inability to automatically update account information, and extreme process and workflow inefficiencies.
We Don’t Need Automation – Do you want to save time and money and realize fast ROIs? AP automation allows organizations to get on top of their invoice management agenda, providing solutions with unrivaled ease-of-use, flexibility and powerful matching capabilities. Automated AP solutions provide increased productivity, reduced processing costs, improved process transparency and minimized errors and fraud. Other benefits include multi-channel interaction, rapid ROIs, touchless processing and easy scaling. Solutions cover the full invoice management process from capture through validation, process management, archiving and reporting. Rather than spending time on redundant tasks like data entry, filing, sorting, copying, etc. employees can concentrate their efforts on work more directly related to your bottom line.
Automation Doesn’t Really Save Money – The cost to manually process an invoice can range from anywhere between $5 – $25, and with strategic automation, this cost can be reduced to an average of $2.50! High costs include those associated with the errors of manual data entry, invoices getting lost while they are routed from one individual/department to another, exceptions processing, accrural delays, failed audits and duplicate invoices. Automation provides a 90 – 95% reduction in paperwork which leads to a 25% increase in labor productivity.
We’ll Lose Control - Automation actually provides greater visibility, allowing authorized users to see invoice status at any time. Invoices are no longer left unattended, and employees are held accountable for their role in the approval process. This in turn leads to greater control since processes are automatically updated as invoices make their way through workflows, providing more time for focus on exception handling.
We Can’t Afford Automation – Actually, you can’t afford not to have AP automation. With the right solution in place, you’ll save time and money currently spent on manual processes while avoiding things like double payments and forgotten invoices. And, with cloud-based solutions, there is no upfront software purchase required and no dedicated IT team to be put into place. Using this type of solution enables organizations to realize faster ROIs by basing return on documents processed rather than viewing it as a project.
We’re Too Small For Automation – No matter what the size of an organization, there are employees assigned the task of manually entering invoice data when they could be focusing on more strategic responsibilities. Just like with larger businesses, there is money to be saved through the implementation of an accounts payable workflow, including lost invoices and failed audits. And with the use of cloud-based solutions, costs are minimized with solutions available to fit any budget.
We’re Too Big For Automation – AP automation solutions were actually first designed with larger organizations in mind, so they are able to handle large volumes of invoices. With the abiity to create effective workflows and integrate with existing ERP systems, automation is a no brainer for the larger business that has many more departments and employees for a single invoice to pass through. There is a greater chance for error with a manual system used in a big business since there is a higher number of invoices and more people handling them. Automation takes manual procedures out of the mix allowing for increased control and visibility.
We Don’t Have Time to Implement Automation – There are many AP automation solutions to choose from, many of which require no dedicated IT teams or special training. You can decide whether to outsource, insource or use a combination of both. Any time spent on implementation will be quickly regained through rapid ROIs.
About Vision360 Enterprise: With Vision360 Enterprise there is nothing to purchase, no software licensing restrictions, no annual software maintenance and very little IT resources needed. Vision360 Enterprise automates the routine steps involved in approving invoices. Once supplier invoices are captured, the invoices can be routed to approvers based on business rules, through multiple levels of approvals, coded and released for payment.
The benefits of integrating Vision360 Enterprise accounts payable processing with MS Dynamics:
- Seamless integration reduces the need for technical resources
- Allows for rapid deployment
- Accounts payable dashboard provides 100% visibility to supplier invoices
- Eliminates 100% of paper invoices
- Captures email invoices electronically
- Eliminates the need for data entry
- Powerful coding tools
- Perform 2 & 3-way matching
- Data validation engines ensures accuracy
- Centralized processing and controls
- Complete audit trail of approval activity
- Generate instant efficiency reports
- Instantly access invoices from electronic archive
- Enforces your security, processing rules and compliance
We do not take a one size fits all approach to any engagement. Our strength is in our ability to objectively evaluate the business problems and challenges that affect every day. By leveraging our business process solutions experience, coupled with our technical expertise we are able to effectively analyze and recommend a variety of viable solutions to fit the needs of any business problem and challenge we are faced with.
For more information contact us or call 603-437-1400 x308
It's never been easier for employees to complete and submit expense reports. Vision360 Enterprise Expense allows staff to create electronic expense reports, attached receipts and submit to managers for review and approval.
Vision360 Expense will streamline the expense reporting process and improve the review and approval flow between departments. Vision360 Expense turns lengthy, tedious paper-based approval processes into one-click approvals.
Managers can easily review and approve expense reports from anywhere, at anytime – no paperwork involved. All expense reports and receipts are in one location making review and approvals faster and easier than ever. Enforcing reimbursement and expense policies and streamlining the expense process has never been easier.
How Does It Work?
Employees simply fill out the reimbursement form, attach their receipts and click submit! The expense report is sent directly to their manager for approval! That's all there is to it.
1. Eliminates paper from the review and approval process
2. Attaching digital receipts this keeps things organized
3. Having visibility to expense reports during the approval process cuts down on the number of status
inquiries from employees
4. By using electronic expense reports employees can manage expenses from anywhere
3. Electronic expense reports can be quickly approved ensuring that employees get reimbursed promptly for
SUBMIT APPROVE PAY
Vision360 Expense will allow you to monitor all aspects of your business travel and reduce excessive spending. Gain visibility into your company's spending with comprehensive data, reporting and custom reports. Regardless of when a transaction occurred, what form of payment was used, or which supplier or vendor was selected, you'll get detailed analytics into your overall travel spending. Then, you can set rules to increase control, eliminate loopholes, improve spending behavior, and lower your overall expenses.
1. Invoice Processing Costs:
What's your cost to process a single supplier invoice?
There are many factors that affect the cost to process a single supplier invoice. Many of these costs are attributed to the "clerical duties" performed by skilled accounting staff. These clerical duties include opening incoming mail, sorting and staging invoices into batches, sending paper invoices to approvers for proper coding and approval, performing manual data entry of key invoice data into the accounting system for payment processing.
Many studies have been performed by trade associations i.e. Paystream Advisors, Aberdeen Group, The Accounts Payable Network, IOFM and many more. The statistics have shown that the average cost to process a single invoice is roughly $15 dollars and companies with significant accounts payable processing challenges have seen their costs in the range of $38.00 per invoice. Organizations that have implemented some level of accounts payable process improvement have realized a significant savings of 60-80% over manual invoice processing with per invoice costs reduced to $3 dollars or less per invoice.
2. Invoice Processing Speeds:
How long does it take for your supplier invoices to process through your organization for payment?
The time it takes can greatly vary depending on the number of manual steps an invoice needs to go through for proper approvals, matching, coding and entry into your accounting system. According to the "Aberdeen Group" the average processing time to process invoices manually is between 24 - 30 days, while companies that have implemented some level of accounts payable process improvement have seen their processing times reduced down to 5 days or less.
3. Productivity Per Team Member:
Are your accounts payable team members equally productive?
Take the number of accounts payable invoices per month and divide by the number of invoices processed. You should also factor in the tasks performed by each team member. It is estimated that 75% of the labor and time associated with processing supplier invoices is performed by the accounts payable department.
Measure the time it takes to process an invoice today and you can be assured that accounts payable automation will double the throughput and significantly reduce the costs to process an invoice.
4. Variance Analysis/Correction Rates:
Variances can be caused by many factors, however the time it takes to correct them can cost your company more than 10 times the costs to process a single invoice correctly!
Are line items coded correctly? Are manual keying errors causing bottlenecks? Are you able to report on variances in a timely manner? With accounts payable automation rules can be put in place to correctly process invoices and flag those invoice with issues and route them for resolution and instantly report on any variance or processing issues.
5. PO Matching Process and Speeds:
The process to manually match an invoice and the time it takes can vary dramatically between organizations, processes and definitely between people. Let's face it - some people are just faster than others and some accuracy varies.
With accounts payable automation business processing rules can be applied to "automatically match" invoices against your purchase order, receiver, vendor master or any other criteria. When applying these "auto-matching rules" invoices can be "automatically coded" to eliminate the need for manual data entry, hence eliminating the "fat finger" problem.
6. Invoice Entry:
Invoice entry largely relies on skilled accounts payable staff to take the time to enter by hand the information from a supplier invoice into the companies accounting system. As you might expect manual data entry is "error-prone" and relies on people.
With accounts payable automation the data captured during the routing, matching, coding and approval of invoices is transferred into the accounting system, "error-free".
With Vision360 Enterprise accounts payable departments can expect to eliminate all of the manual touch points and process associated with process, paying and maintaining supplier invoices. With Vision360 Enterprise there is nothing to purchase, no software licensing restrictions, no annual software maintenance and very little IT resources needed. Vision360 Enterprise automates the routine steps involved in approving invoices. Once supplier invoices are captured, the invoices can be routed to approvers based on business rules, through multiple levels of approvals, coded and released for payment.
An Accounts Payable manager from Carolina Steel Group, LLC is heading to jail after being convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
During her time at the steel company, Angela Womack, 51, allegedly opened personal accounts under the name ‘IBOCF’ and would create vendor cheques payable to ‘International BOCF,’ attempting to cover her tracks by including them on the company’s vendor reports... read the full story.
Vision360 Enterprise Accounts Payable Automation Solution by BlueCreek Software reduces time wasted chasing down paper invoices by automating invoice approvals, eliminating manual data entry, eliminating paper invoices and reducing processing costs.