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Accounts Payable Workflow Software - 3 Reasons Why You Need It

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An homage to Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Today’s post will be a sort of odd homage to someone you’ve surely never heard of, but whom I guarantee has had a profound impact on your life, especially if you’re a citizen of the United States.  We want to give credit where credit is due, so with that said it’s time that Otto gets his.  Who’s that you say? I’m glad you asked.  It turns out that Otto, invented the first truly effective commercial bread slicer to come to market.  While the technology existed to slice bread mechanically nearly seventy years prior, the shape and size of loaves weren’t suitable to this end until the 1930’s which is when the golden era of bread on a mass produced scale was ushered in.  (More on that here...) What on earth does this have to do with Accounts Payable workflow software though, besides the toast that you’re possibly munching on presently, or the tasty cushion for your BLT you’ll be enjoying in a few hours…?  Well, the adage that this or that product is the hottest thing since sliced bread became a well known cultural idiom in our American lexicon, possibly in part due to Wonder Bread’s use of it as a marketing gimmick in the post 1930’s era.

Ok, now that we’ve beefed up your knowledge of mid 20th century America, as it relates to food history it’s time to connect the dots to the modern world and the Accounts Payable process landscape that we live, work, and play in daily.

Accounts Payable Workflow Software is the hottest thing since sliced bread if you’re looking to transform your AP process, but why?

Well, we’ve put together three simple reasons for your reading pleasure...and while we understand and endorse multiple methods for improving AP, like EDI or e-Invoicing as highly advanced technical options, the reality is that for most businesses those approaches are untenable and won’t cover a high percentage of their vendor and invoice population due to resource constraints and onboarding challenges.  More on that here…

3 Reasons Why You Need It

Process Speed

One of the biggest bottlenecks for Accounts Payable processes the world over, and one that can be remedied through Accounts Payable workflow software is the time it takes for an invoice to travel through an organization while it gets GL-coded (aka when it is assigned the appropriate cost center by which it should be booked) and ultimately approved.  For many businesses this is still a manual or quasi-manual process whereby an end approver needs to see the invoice and then physically write down the appropriate expense code along with a signature and date before the invoice can be booked into the accounting system and ultimately paid.  While that might’ve been effective in the past, albeit not pretty, it really should have no more sway in today’s payables landscape.  Accounts Payable workflow software should be configured to automatically route invoices by some logic set including vendor, ship or receive location, or other unique attribute to assign it to the correct approver in the organization.  Interoffice mail, e-mail, or God-forbid, express courier should be entirely obviated through this effort, reclaiming precious lost time where the process would otherwise lag.  Oh, by the way, one of the by products of a faster process is that it becomes the enabler to pursuing advanced and favorable payment outcomes, to include early payment discounts.

Cost Slashing Benefits

As a tangent to the point above, the cost associated with the manual distribution processes for invoices can range from relatively low, to exorbitantly high.  Interoffice mail, physical mail between departments, or express courier packages working their way between offices can range from $.50 to over $1-2 per INVOICE.  In a climate where most businesses are trying to reduce cost and give themselves advantages to competing, this is a step in the wrong direction.  However, for every invoice that you can successfully route through your Accounts Payable workflow software, you can slash that spend by over 90% in many cases.  If that’s not something you’ve looked into, then we advise you to...quickly!

Total Visibility

The biggest benefit to AP workflow software, arguably, is the transparency that it renders to the entirety of the process.  When you have insight into every stage of your AP process from invoice receipt, through exception handling, to matching, to coding, to approval, to release to ERP, to payment...well you get the picture!  You are not an outsider to the process wondering what is going on or how to get to the bottom of where an invoice is, but you are the master of your fate...the captain of your soul...or at least your Accounts Payable process.  Visibility is something that helps AP administrators, managers, and controllers alike to expedite processing and eliminate bottlenecks.  It’s also a handy thing when it comes time for audits and makes understanding how invoices have flowed through the organization and how decisions have been made.


For these reasons, like we said before Accounts Payable workflow software is the hottest thing since sliced bread, especially for those companies who can’t pull of EDI and who have deployed or can’t deploy e-Invoicing.

P.S. - While Accounts Payable workflow software is the goods, you’ll need more than that to transform and optimize your process...check this out to get our thoughts on what the utopian scenario for AP invoice processing should look like in the 21st century!


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