Businesses are looking to boost performance by adopting technologies that can quickly extract pertinent details from invoices and feed them into accounts payable (AP) systems. Automation could not just save time by extracting details faster, but also help firms avoid human errors that can lead to lengthy disputes with vendors to correct issues.
For example, staff members can also struggle to recognize when they are receiving an accidental second invoice for a bill that has already been paid. In fact, 25% of AP professionals say that duplicate invoices or payments are pain points of AP operations, according to The Digital Shift, a PYMNTS and Corporate Spending Innovations (CSI) collaboration.
See the study: The Digital Shift Report
Handing invoice processing over to artificial intelligence (AI)-powered systems that can better detect duplicates could help reduce this problem.
“The most prevalent errors are the human ones that are derived from manual processing,” CSI President David Disque told PYMNTS. “Without some facet of automation, processing invoices is time-consuming and costly.”
Modernizing Invoice Processing
AP teams can employ various technologies to help modernize their invoice processing. For example, optical character recognition (OCR) tools can recognize key details in paper or PDF invoices and extract that data. Various AI-powered supports can help firms code and flow extracted invoice information through company systems according to firms’ policies, as well as detect and send alerts when instances of duplicate invoices are found.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is emerging as another effective support. This software takes over repetitive tasks while using the same programs employees had. RPA tools instruct bots to automatically navigate AP software and perform the same steps as staff members, but at a more rapid rate. RPA bots can also be designed to follow rules, such as caps on how much an invoice can be worth, to help prevent fraud or other costly issues. This technology can spare companies considerable amounts of time, as RPA is reportedly able to enter data from payment files containing 200 or more invoices in roughly five minutes, while human employees take two hours to do the same.
“Many businesses may think their AP processes — although not perfect — are working fine,” Disque said. “This way of thinking can cost the business thousands, if not millions, of dollars annually. Buyers that pay their suppliers late can experience harsh consequences from suppliers stopping deliveries or services to costly penalties.”
Reducing Costly Human Errors
Some AP teams are well aware that legacy invoice processing methods are not always well-suited to helping them cope with modern realities or respond quickly to changes in the business landscape. Advanced technologies that can automate invoice management as well as accelerate and error-check processes while letting staff attend to more complicated tasks could ultimately help fuel business growth and expansion.
“An inefficient accounts payable process can lead to the loss of potential volume discounts, require additional staff and drive up the cost of processing,” Disque said. “Automating AP processes will enable businesses to reduce costly human errors, pay their vendors on time and, with the right payments program, earn net new income.”