Business Owners Can Reap the Many Rewards of Automating Payables

by Mark Lawson

The accounts payable (AP) process can look very different depending on the size and nature of an organization. Especially if a business is experiencing growth, is in the middle of a busy season, or working to close out annual reporting, the thought “There must be an easier way to do this” has probably been discussed. 

Or an organization may be preparing a budget and business strategy for the new year and looking for ways to optimize the administrative team and lower operational costs. When looking for how and what to optimize, the AP workflow process is often overlooked.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Utilizing an existing accounting/ERP system, a business can enhance and automate the AP processes using an invoice-to-payment automation technology platform. Traditional AP processes are often manual, paper-based and not organized for growing businesses. These tech platforms can automate the AP process, connecting with accounting systems already in use. Such a platform offers an affordable, integrated and secure end-to-end solution that streamlines the process, and provides greater control over workflows and cash management capabilities.

Here are five reasons a business should consider automatic accounts payable through the use of technology:

Automating payables means the internal team will have more time to dedicate to critical business matters. Whether solely responsible for a business’s payment processes or a business owner juggling several day-to-day operational tasks, the manual process of routing and entering paper invoices takes time away from other business matters. 

Enjoy increased control and increased rebates. A larger monthly rebate generated from a business’s credit card spend can be expected, which in turn helps convert the AP department into a revenue generator. With technology in place, significant savings can be achieved on normal AP costs. With improved efficiency and methodic systemization, the business or organization will have greater control over outgoing cash flow. 

Automated payables eliminate the need for paper checks. This allows a CFO/owner to sign checks digitally. This flexibility and convenience not only benefits executives who are frequently out of the office due to business travel or client meetings, but also enables easier digital record keeping. Instead of executives needing to spend time tracking down the necessary approvals, the technology platform helps manage approvals and notifies the required individuals when their action is required. 

The platform directly integrates with the business’s bank and allows for direct payment to vendors. Conveniently, there is no need for intermediary payment accounts, which lowers a business’s risk of falling victim to online fraud. Because of the way transactions are generated and thanks to the integration with fraud protection tools like Check Positive Pay and ACH Positive Pay, the risk of online payments fraud is mitigated and the business is better protected. 

Tech platforms often have experienced financial services teams managing them. A dedicated team can work with a business to set up and integrate the existing process and structure and can provide service to unique needs.

A quality financial services institution should serve as a partner to a business. When possible, owners and executives should explore the technology available to assist in automating accounts payable processes. This should include taking an inventory of current systems and processes and asking questions about what opportunities might exist to handle financial needs in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Mark Lawson is a senior vice president and director of treasury management at Enterprise Bank & Trust.

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