Accounts Payable (AP) & Accounts Receivable (AR) are the backbone of a company’s performance. Executives look at the changes in revenue and payment activities to decide when and what to buy, when to downsize, when to hire and most importantly, manage their cash flows and working capital. So they are an important and integral part of the company.

So it’s surprising that AP & AR processes have lagged behind many other business operation processes. AP & AR processes still suffer from high paper invoice volumes, manual keying and routing and fragmented systems and processes.

BUT, some promising trends in AP were uncovered in a recent technology survey carried out by the the Institute of Finance and management (IOFM)

Decline in paper invoice volumes

According to IOFM, increasingly invoices are arriving via e-mail, electronic data interchange (EDI), Extendible mark-up language (EML) or through a portal or as images in SMS, etc.

18% of surveyed business have experienced a decrease in the volume of paper invoices they received during the last 3 years.

So, the trend finally is upward moving as far as touchless receipt is concerned. BUT, although companies are getting their invoices digitally, only 6% of those companies surveyed process their invoices straight-through. They still need to deploy technology that takes full advantage of these digital invoices.

Growth of mobile processes

Increasingly employees and executives have access to invoice processing functions and other business processes from their mobile devices anywhere, anytime on the fly. Suppliers can send their electronic invoices directly to an employee for upload to an invoice automation application dramatically improving the receipt to pay turnaround time.

Tighter integration between AP applications and ERP systems

A company’s ERP is the backbone of the company. It is a source of data (POs, files, etc), a processing centre (data mining, escalation levels, analytics, etc) and it is a store for data (invoices, amounts to be paid, aging reports, statements, etc).

The AP/AR processes have not been left behind in this highly connected environment and more and more ERP systems and AP applications are increasingly linking all business processes so that data can be shared seamlessly and securely.

AP automation now in the cloud

Going into the cloud for any business process has become the trend and AP automation is now very much a part of this trend. The advantages of going to the cloud have been enumerated countless times but they include; faster deployment, lower operations costs, changes CAPEX to OPEX, continuous availability, etc.

And in the case of expensemanager, with invoice automation now being available in our expense solution it’s a very easy path for companies to move quickly and easily to also automating this part of their spend.