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Can Accounts Payable processes be 'Touch Less'?

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This post attempts to identify few of the levers which can make the AP process automated, improve upon the overall-cycle time, increase accuracy levels and cut down the overall costs.


Accounts Payable (AP) processes were one of the early adopters of outsourcing. Being transactional in nature it is one of the typical processes which is picked up by the clients for outsourcing. Yet, managing this process effectively is a real challenge for the clients as well as the service provider. Of late, there has been a paradigm shift across the organizations in turning AP Department into a Profit Center. In line with this changed vision, clients are expecting service providers in bringing transformation ideas onto the discussion table on a continuous basis. This blog attempts to identify few of the levers which can make the AP process automated, improve upon the overall-cycle time, increase accuracy levels and cut down the overall costs

Levers which enable higher levels of automation in an Accounts Payable Process
We have experienced implementation of a particular point solution like an OCR engine or workflow solution or enhancement of a feature within the ERP improves the efficiency levels; however, it doesn't make the AP process completely automated. Also quite often, it is seen that the focus is just kept on implementing a particular solution and eventually the desire to achieve excellence gets lost post implementation. A combination of tools & technology, improving the ERP capabilities and bringing process efficiencies together can make an Accounts Payable function more efficient. ERS (Evaluated Receipt Settlement) is one of the most efficient solutions, where the invoices are automatically generated by the customer's ERP system (client in this case) against the approvals created by users. This eliminates the need to receive, OCR and process invoices of vendors. Some of these levers are listed below:
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To summarize, a combination of technology, ERP and process tweaking can lead to a high level of touch less environment in an AP process. Involvement and commitment of the senior management is key in driving a leaner and efficient work environment. With the global business dynamics putting pressure on organizations to cut their costs, the focus on improving the automation levels is more relevant in Accounts Payable than it was earlier.

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