Managing Accounts Payable, Intelligently

Efficient cash flow can be stymied for a variety of reasons, including paper-based AP processing. Flexible document management and analytics are keys to streamlined cash flow and streamlined audits, too, explains IntelliChief Marketing Manager Tim Nissen.

Cash flow management is akin to managing a supply chain, where each step in the process, from invoicing to settling fund flows at the bank, is crucial for knowing how much is on hand to fund day-to-day operations. Untimely intelligence, document capture or communications, internally, across an enterprise, can result in less-than-optimal cash flow, and that can lead to a cash crunch.

IntelliChief, a provider of automated document management and workflow content management solutions and technology, late last month debuted its expanded accounts payable functionality, which helps stakeholders manage accounts payable documents with analytics that can, in turn, streamline cash flow by streamlining the audit process.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Tim Nissen, marketing manager for IntelliChief, stated that the impetus for better accounts payable management stems, in part, from what he said were “pain points … that come from the audit sphere,” where compliance and regulations demand that there be accurate and long-lived record-keeping tied to accounting and back-office functions. Audits, whether internal or external, frequently hinge on the timely (perhaps even urgent) production of source documents, said Nissen, with the all-too-inefficient process of going back to file cabinets to retrieve forms or even submitting requests to offsite storage facilities. The end result is that costs are elevated for the firm being audited in both time management and physical operations in terms of rent and storage (and file cabinets).

For accounts payable management, said Nissen, the sweet spot of deployment for the accounts payable automation lies with firms that are shifting from, or should be shifting from, manual processes that may be elongating cash flow cycles. The integration of accounts payable capture allows for the reduction of up to 70 percent of the costs — as measured by everything from time to cash outlays — associated with AP management, according to Nissen. In addition, better AP management means that supplier discounts can be captured more readily, with the net impact translating into additional cash in an enterprise’s coffers.

He related to PYMNTS that, in one instance, a firm had been able to create a conference room after freeing up space that had been relegated to file cabinets and paper storage.

As more firms based in the United States are becoming multinational, said Nissen, global reach expands, and operations must rely on increasingly efficient communications about document flow, especially with manufacturing firms. The real-time data available through electronic content management systems offered via IntelliChief is also available through mobile apps that allow for AP management on the go, where, as Nissen noted, “there can be approval or sign-off at multiple levels” of the executive chain.