In 2020, the world saw a shift from work in the office to work at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While remote work was not widely accepted pre-pandemic, a recent Upwork survey revealed that 1 in 4 Americans will be working remotely in 2021. The study suggests that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Your AP teams may be working from home for the first time, and the following are 4 focus areas that will help your employees succeed as they work remotely.
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1. First and foremost, it is time to automate your AP workflow.
- AP Automation has been on many companies’ to-do lists for a long time. Now that businesses have employees working remotely, the cost of manual processes and paper invoices has only increased. Combined with the logistical issues of invoices being mailed to empty offices, the already tedious undertaking of hand processing paper invoices, purchase orders and receipts can lead to missed deadlines and lost paperwork.
- Companies still using manual processes (non-digital workflow) are missing out on the many benefits technology has brought to AP. If yours is one of those companies, and you are tired of the blizzard of paperwork, high processing costs, inefficiencies, and lack of visibility you experience with manual processing, then there is no better time than today to find a partner who can help you create a completely digital workflow.
- Single stream invoice processing solutions eliminate the manual keying and document handling that plagues most accounts payable departments.
- Eliminating manual tasks frees your accounts payable staff to focus on value-added tasks such as reporting and analytics, increasing communication with suppliers, better maintenance of the vendor master, negotiating more early-pay discounts, helping error-prone suppliers, and strengthening fraud controls.
2. Make remote work easier while maintaining security controls.
- Your AP team needs the same access to data and documents at home as they did when they were in the office. They also need to be able to access that information on different devices, including phones and tablets.
- The ideal AP workflow software has both flexibility and checks and balances built in. You need an accounts payable automation solution that is tailored to match your business practices while keeping you within the parameters of best practices in risk reduction, liability prevention, visibility, efficiency, and cost management.
- Your company should have digital documents and financial data instantly available, from desktop or mobile, to anyone who needed to view or update the information.
- At the same time, you must maintain focus on security and risk reduction. You can have the flexibility to give full access to your remote employees and manage exceptions, while maintaining the information management and security controls required for the IT department’s peace of mind.
3. Use enhanced visibility to save money.
- In these times of economic volatility, the bottom line becomes especially important. When your leaders have access to up-to-the-minute financial data, they can make strategic decisions that will not only cut costs but can also enhance revenue.
- With the right automation partner, your company can use the enhanced visibility of the digitization of your AP workflow to identify bottlenecks in the process, which can save you both time and money.
- If your financial team has instant access to macro level views of your accounts payable health, you can identify gaps and create a roadmap to make process improvements. You can also easily point out areas of growth and success in your AP processing.
4. Plan for the future.
- When your workforce is remote, it does not mean business is paused or that your growth should stagnate. Now is not the time to take your foot off the proverbial gas pedal. There are competitive opportunities to capitalize on and many potential areas for growth.
- Now is the time to create a plan for consistent evolution towards making best practices the standard for your company. This plan is a starting point towards a continuous improvement process that will ensure future success for your business.
- Your business keeps evolving and that means your best practices will have to evolve as well. Your automation partner should help you evolve and should regularly suggest opportunities for improvement with your AP team.
- You and your automation partner should design a prioritized, strategic plan for your best practices evolution and reevaluate it regularly. Consider the steps that need to be taken and the ways in which you can break down improvement process so that they do not seem overwhelming to you or your team.