Categories: Accounts Payable

Inside UMB Bank’s AP Automation Agenda

Accounts payable (AP) departments all too often employ inefficient processes that slow down workflows, and delay supplier payments. Reliance on outdated practices — including paper checks, manual data entry and payment processing, and even fax machines and snail mail — creates major speed bumps, and introduces opportunities for human error. Delays related to these practices can result in strained relationships with vendors, and interruptions in cash flow.

Automated AP solutions, however, can smooth away such frictions. These tools enable companies to automatically scan and digitize invoice data, removing the likelihood of mistakes during the manual data-entry process. Additional services match purchase orders (POs) with invoice numbers, and automate other processes important to accelerating approval procedures. AP technologies can also issue payments rapidly, whether through wire transfers, push-to-card offerings, digital wallets or even blockchain.

The new Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker, a collaboration between PYMNTS and Bottomline Technologies, offers a monthly examination of new developments in the space, including the latest in how AP automation is overturning traditional — and often cumbersome — AP practices. The Tracker explores how such solutions are being implemented in different markets to make B2B payments smoother and more secure.

Around The Next-Gen AP Automation World

As AP departments embrace automation, banks, financial institutions (FIs) and solution providers are stepping in to educate businesses on how these solutions can introduce new efficiencies to their workflows.

Bank customers of accounting software solutions provider BankTEL Systems, for instance, will soon get new AP capabilities. The functionalities come thanks to BankTEL’s recent acquisition by automated solutions provider AvidXchange. Under the deal, BankTEL customers will get access to a suite of AvidXchange’s invoice-to-pay solutions.

Australian bank Westpac is making similar moves as it works to help AP departments transition from legacy systems to cloud-based offerings. The bank’s institutional division is encouraging AP departments to adopt a cloud-based procurement solution, created in partnership with spend management solutions provider Coupa. The solution is intended to help businesses with complicated supplier relationships attain real-time budget visibility, and more efficient purchasing processes.

For its part, AP solutions provider Bottomline Technologies recently introduced new features to its own AP automation solution. Bottomline’s Paymode-X AP Automation solution, which digitizes paper and electronic invoices, is now equipped with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools for data and image capture. The firm also added validation functionalities to the solution that AP professionals can use to reduce manual data input processes, as well as match invoices and additional documentation with relevant POs.

For more on these and the rest of the latest headlines, download the Tracker.

UMB Bank Advocates For The Adoption Of AP Automation

Many businesses cling to traditional payment methods like paper checks, even while faster and more modern alternatives, such as digital wallets and Same Day ACH, are available to them. The reason for the holdouts may simply be because businesses are unaware that more efficient AP automation solutions are available, said UMB Bank Executive Vice President and Director of Product Management Uma Wilson.

In the inaugural Feature Story, Wilson explained how UMB Bank works to educate business clients on improving their AP practices with automation. Find the story in the Tracker.

Deep Dive: How Automation And Virtual Cards Are Improving AP

Paper continues to persist in AP departments, despite more advanced options. Recent PYMNTS data found that nearly 81 percent of companies use paper checks, and 43.8 percent receive invoices through fax. However, these methods are prone to fraud and inefficiencies.

The Tracker’s Deep Dive examines how virtual cards and automation can better safeguard and accelerate AP workflows. Read the full Deep Dive in the Tracker.

About The Tracker

The Next-Gen AP Automation Tracker, a PYMNTS and Bottomline Technologies collaboration, is a monthly report that highlights the most recent accounts payable developments and automated solutions disrupting how businesses process invoices, track spending and earn rebates on transactions.

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The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.