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Accounts payable is at the heart of company success— but is yours skipping a beat?

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With invoice processing being one of the most document-heavy functions in business, it’s no surprise that organizations worldwide are planning to automate their accounts payable in 2023, according to Accounting Today.

But despite ongoing efforts to digitally transform this time-consuming and laborious task, research from the Institute of Financial Operations & Leadership shows that 68% of organizations are still manually typing invoice data into their systems. Not only does this increase the likelihood of errors, but manual entry wastes valuable time and money. So, what’s going wrong?

The problem often lies with organizations not discerning between the mere digitizing of accounts payable and the true digital transformation of these processes. With a solid strategy for AP automation, businesses can expedite invoice processing rates by as much as 90%, which equates to a 400% increase in employee productivity. But how do you get there?

Aim for touchless processing

An in-depth understanding of your current processes is critical in order to start improving them. However, that doesn’t mean documenting and analyzing feedback from managers and users. It involves looking at events and time between steps within a process to assess exactly how you operate—from every click of a keyboard, each personal interaction, and every task execution. You’ll likely discover that many steps in the AP process can be automated to allow knowledge workers to focus on exceptions or customer service. 

It’s important to choose technology with the highest impact. This means going beyond robotic process automation (RPA) tools. Adding cognitive skills to your bots will enable them to make unstructured data more valuable and equip the digital workforce with the skills and understanding to make better business decisions. For example, they will be able to more accurately process a wider variety of documents and extract, classify, and understand data from multiple sources, while also accessing and reviewing customer history and giving recommendations based on previous interactions.

METRO Digital is a great example of this. As the technology arm of international wholesale company, METRO AG, it has 17 million customers in 30-plus countries serving the hotel, restaurant, and catering industries. It processes a mountainous quantity of invoices daily and in several languages. ABBYY has a case study of METRO Digital, see https://www.abbyy.com/customer-stories/abbyy-accelerates-metro-ag-companies-wholesale-customer-payments-up-to-90-percent-faster/.

Using ABBYY’s intelligent document processing solution, ABBYY Vantage, METRO Digital accelerated invoice processing times from two days to just one hour. Not only did this boost revenue, but it also improved accuracy and compliance for legal requirements and internal formal criteria. Access to invoice and payments data, which was previously impossible, enables METRO Digital to better understand and predict the customer lifecycle stage and provide a value-added experience all while nearing its goal to reach zero-touch processing.

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