Accounts Payable Without The Paper Chase

Supply chains break down when accounts payable winds up being mismanaged. The burden is tied to paper and human error, and AP automation software can help the flow of funds between businesses speed up, if the human touch points are reduced a bit. Machine learning and robotics can help smooth approvals as Dooap’s CEO Antti Kosunen tells PYMNTS.

The cash flow cycle has its moving parts, but communication is key in all parts of the equation.

Unfortunately, communication breaks down where papers are shuffled and where fingerprints — you know, the physical kind — are left.  In short, the handling of documents can lead to a surfeit of errors.

In one recent announcement in the continued progression of AP automation, Dooap said that its software application has been published on Microsoft’s Appsource marketplace. Billed as a “mobile first” application for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and AX, the firm has said that its offering gives users a way to approve invoices across mobile devices and use smart invoicing and other factors to streamline steps, illustrating larger waves of change within accounts payable management.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Antti Kosunen, chief executive and co-founder of Dooap, said users of business applications demand a consumer-like experience from those apps, having been conditioned by social media and eCommerce applications to expect ease of use.

That streamlined experience is lacking in most accounts payable experiences, and, as the executive noted, with accounts payable, “there can be long lead times” from when an invoice is received to when it is paid out, and that lead time can stretch out over “days, or tens of days” — or perhaps that invoice is lost and thus is not paid out at all.

Dooap’s application, said the executive, “makes it speedier for approval” and thus for payment, which in turn can lead to the avoidance of penalties for late payments and a benefit to the bottom line that can come with dynamic discounting.

One key benefit from the rise of automated processes comes from standardization of presentation — and the general trend in accounts payable, in several European nations and elsewhere, even by legislative mandate (and increasingly in the United States) is one toward electronic invoicing.

But it is within that shift from paper to bits and bytes that technology — and everything from machine learning to robotics — can help conserve time, among the most useful resources for any firm. This can be seen in the actual process that gives rise to, shepherds and then gets an invoice paid. The purchase order and approval and then payment process can have any number of points of conflict and friction.

Kosunen told PYMNTS that machine learning via Dooap can help with automated purchase order and invoice matching and can generate payments approvals — stopping to raise a red flag only when there is a mismatch. At that point, he said, human intervention helps and can make the decision as to whether a payment should be completed. This is especially useful in the event of recurring vendor payments (fitting payments to specific accounts).

Of course, technology eases payments only when the transition away from paper-based processes is done through a compelling experience. The mobile focus of his own company’s app (and with Business Intelligence embedded in that app), said Kosunen, is one that is geared to companies where “mobility is useful for business people traveling outside the office,” to vendors in the field, and he noted the importance of “an alignment with the Microsoft ecosystem that meshes well with the cloud and third-party business apps” — which are also general hallmarks of the transition of accounts payable beyond the desk, and across, say, controllers or sales reps in the field.

Robotics can also have a positive impact on the accounts payable process. In this case, robotics is a term which applies to software that brings automation to tasks typically done by humans, where Kosunen said that rule-based commands can help process invoices and check external sources for data and sort and categorize invoices.

The end result? The executive told PYMNTS that accounts payable efficiencies — tied to software — translates into cost savings as there is “greater transparency” into spend, and even speed in reconciling reports at the end of the month, where time can prove as valuable as money.