SUBMITTED BY Jeff Haller

IOFM Townhall - The Accounts Payable Helpline - March, 3 2022

In the most recent IOFM Virtual Townhall Meeting, AP industry leaders gathered to discuss trends and tips in a panel called “The Accounts Payable Helpline.”

DataServ Co-founder, CEO, & CRO Jeff Haller, was on the panel and eagerly answered questions from the audience and offered advice as many attendees were considering how they could further automate their processes.

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The panel started with the acknowledgment that 2 years ago, COVID changed the way AP departments operated. Now many AP departments are working remotely, and because of the great resignation, many are short-staffed. Working with these new constraints, panelists discussed how to achieve sustainable improvements in our AP departments to help support the growth of our business. All speakers were optimistic about the future of AP automation and digitization, with many businesses eager to take advantage of new APIA technologies.  

Poll Question 1: How would you describe your AP department's current level of automation?

The attendees that were polled all had plans to automate further in 2022, with the majority having partial automation already. With AP employees working remotely and with supply chain problems delaying the delivery of goods, most attendees were concerned about missed invoice due dates. Because of missed due dates and other costly issues, many CFOs are now willing to invest in it, and senior management sees the value in automation. Buyers are working to replace older workflow systems and ERP systems, automating their workflow so invoices can move through the system with minimal human interaction and approvals can happen quickly and remotely, even via mobile devices.  

During the pandemic, there was a big shift to emailing invoices, which led to companies using emails as an ineffective routing system for approvals. AP departments that are just forwarding email invoices for approval have no way to monitor where invoices are in the workflow path, and they have no visibility into bottlenecks. The industry experts warned that if you can’t see the status of an invoice, access AP data through dashboards and reports, or identify bottlenecks in workflow, you could benefit from APIA. 

Poll Question 2: What AP challenge keeps you up at night?

According to a poll of attendees, many businesses are concerned with the increased risk of payment fraud. The industry experts all agreed: automation is the best way to mitigate payment fraud. APIA allows you to match the invoice to PO, detect duplicate invoices and allows you to look for patterns in the data that are consistent with fraudulent activity.  

Poll Question 3: What percent of your invoices from suppliers are submitted via email?

A 38% of the IOFM Townhall attendees indicated that over 75% of their invoices are submitted via email, and 5% said that they receive 100% of their invoices via email. 

A Few of the Audience Questions Answered:

  1. How are you addressing situations where you have to deal with older ERP systems? Many companies don't want to switch and run on legacy systems.
  2. Some vendors say they integrate with everything. What questions can I ask to make sure they truly integrate with our system?
  3. We are working on integrating a new ERP system with our current AP system. What are your tips for change management?
  4. Should we wait to automate AP until we deploy our ERP?
  5. My challenge is tracking invoice approvals. What tips do you have on better invoice tracking?
  6. How do I get small mom-and-pop suppliers to accept electronic payments?
  7. My biggest challenge is manually inputting invoices. How do I get started with automating invoice data capture?
  8. Our biggest challenge is missing information on vendor invoices. Is there a best practice to make a vendor comply with the invoice format submission to be sure that PO and other required information are listed?
  9. How do you convince a mom-and-pop company that has grown tremendously that it's time to automate AP? They are reluctant to add new technology.
  10. How do you recommend accelerating vendor setup?

The panel of experts also offered tips for companies shopping for APIA vendors so they can determine how well the new APIA product will integrate with their existing ERP system. The panelists agreed that when shopping for an AP automation system, you want to remove human intervention. The system should be able to receive and process an invoice in any format, freeing up your staff to deal with exceptions when they arise.  

To hear more of the valuable information offered in the latest IOFM Townhall on AP automation, click the link below to watch the full session.

WATCH THE TOWNHALL

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