Invoice Automation Technologies Improves the AP Workflow

Discover the technologies that make invoice automation the solution to improving your end-to-end ap workflow

Companies are realizing that accounts payable can do more than pay the bills; it’s an untapped area with potential to improve the bottom line. Businesses are using invoice automation technology to uncover those money-saving opportunities in the end-to-end AP workflow. By converting manual efforts into “touchless” tasks, invoice automation processing has been able to help businesses speed up their processes, discover early discounts payments, and more. Simply put, automation is more than a buzzword; it’s a powerful solution that leverages emerging technologies to nearly eliminate manual workloads—everything from inputting invoice data to matching up invoices with approvals and more. Here’s how emerging technologies fuel automated invoice processing and help companies seamlessly manage the end-to-end AP workflow:

Artificial intelligence: nimble learning speeds up processes

When invoices come through, accounts payable is the front lines of recording and verifying the data, which means it also has to spot exceptions and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. In an automated solution, artificial intelligence technology does the heavy lifting of recording, verifying and identifying potential issues.

Also called machine learning or adaptive learning, artificial intelligence is the ability for computers to recognize patterns and exceptions without the intervention of manual efforts. In the context of automated invoice processing, artificial intelligence quickly learns the tasks that require judgment, like discerning the approvers for specific invoices or assigning specific general ledger codes, thus speeding up processes that were often slowed down with manual efforts. It’s one thing to automate processes, and another to make them faster as your business scales. That’s why artificial intelligence makes all the difference in an automated account payable solution that can grow with your company.

Optical character recognition (OCR): input data in real-time and with accuracy

Paperless technology is nothing new, but for it to revolutionize the accounts payable workflow, the technology needs to do more than convert documents into digital format. That’s where Optical Character Recognition (OCR) comes in. The technology extracts text in the paperless formats and assigns that data to the appropriate fields within an automated accounts payable solution, thus eliminating manual data entry. Without OCR, you would just have an image of the document, which means you would still have to input the data manually into an accounts payable system.

Even with the assurance of accuracy, it may still feel uncomfortable to set up an automated task without another check. That’s why automated invoice solutions often pair OCR with another layer of invoice data extraction to ensure that the data input was complete and accurate.

Purchase order matching (PO): business rules reduces workload puts the focus on exceptions 

Gathering and reconciling invoices, purchase orders, and approvals is an essential task in the accounts payable workflow; however, it often leads to bottlenecks and delays in the invoice payment process. At first glance, manual execution seems to be the nature of the task—but no longer. Invoice processing systems leverage the technology of business rules management system to automate purchase order matching. By configuring guidelines and percentage tolerances, companies can drill down and customize the guidelines with each seller. The AP automated system will review the digital invoices against what’s configured, automatically approving the invoices that comply with the approved business rules and match up with its purchase order. When an invoice and a purchase order amount do not match up and are outside of the tolerance range, the automation makes it easy for companies to review those exceptions within the payment system. Automated invoice system puts the focus on what truly needs attention, which cuts down the manual workload of reviewing and matching every invoice and purchase order.

Automation seems all the rage these days and rightly so—it paves the way for other much-needed features, like automated purchase order matching, that make invoice automation an all-encompassing solution for doing business on a global scale. Features like supplier onboarding, tax and regulatory compliance, global payments, reconciliation and more are also important aspects that make for an efficient end-to-end AP automation workflow, and these features are also supported by the technologies leveraged by invoice automation. Simply put, automation gives companies the ability to grow and scale and transform their accounts payable process with ease.