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Touchless Invoice Processing

DEFINITION

What Are the Benefits of Touchless Invoice Processing?

There are a lot of situations in life that demand a human touch, but invoice processing is not necessarily one of them. Thanks to automation technology, the manual processes that formerly defined most business’s invoicing functions have now become largely obsolete.

The simple fact is that for nearly every enterprise organization, automated accounts payable processes are a far more dependable way of ensuring timely payments, reducing the risk of human error, and maintaining compliance with industry standards and government regulations. Let’s take a closer look at the many advantages of moving your business to a touchless invoice processing solution.

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Invoice automation software that allows you to process more invoices with fewer human touchpoints and less time managing exceptions.

How Does Automated Invoice Processing Work?

A high-quality AP automation system streamlines the invoicing process by relying on software solutions such as optical character recognition (OCR) and other data capture tools. An OCR engine works by comparing images from a document against an internal database of characters and fonts, essentially allowing the system to “read” even handwritten documents. That allows an automated system to extract all relevant invoice data submitted via a wide range of formats. Artificial intelligence and machine learning help those tools to improve their own functionality over time, training themselves to better recognize the specific data that an AP team needs to process invoices quickly and accurately.

Unlike a manual invoice process, automation creates extensive and accurate digital records of all data extracted, matches all invoices to the correct purchase orders, and ensures that invoices are routed to the correct people and departments for final approval. Accounts payable automation with touchless processing of invoices helps to eliminate the slow and tedious tasks associated with receiving, processing, and routing invoices by hand. That keeps your AP team more engaged and allows them to focus on more productive tasks that make better use of their training and skill sets.

What Are the Risks of Manual Invoice Processing?

While fewer and fewer businesses are still handling invoices through entirely manual processes, there are many that have not yet upgraded to a fully automated invoice processing system. That leaves the door open for costly mistakes and lost time that can damage an organization’s reputation with their valued vendors. Here are a few specific ways a business that continues to rely on manual processes for handling invoices is creating difficulties for its accounts payable team:

Risk of Human Error

Every human touch point creates a greater risk of human error. Receiving invoices from multiple sources in a variety of formats, matching each one of those invoices to the corresponding purchase order, and making sure that each one is routed properly for approval within your organization sets up endless possibilities for costly errors, and even for fraud. Even worse, when fraud and errors do occur, a manual process makes it difficult and time-consuming to identify the cause and ensure that it does not happen again.

Slow Turnaround Times

All of the same factors cited in the previous bullet point also contribute to slower processing of invoices. The time spent physically tracking down approvals alone can put a serious strain on payment deadlines. That can make an organization miss out on discounts for early payments or even incur penalties for late payments, both of which can have a negative impact on all-important relationships with your most valuable vendors and suppliers.

Difficulty Processing Multiple Formats

Paper invoices are easy to misplace. That alone should make a strong case against manual invoice processing, but it isn’t the only pitfall along those lines. Attempting to manually sort out a high volume of invoices received from a wide range of sources in multiple formats creates confusion and eats up valuable time. The average organization might receive invoices via email, SMS texts, app-based submissions, faxes, physical mail, and other sources. Wading through a sea of PDFs, spreadsheets, paper documents, and web forms is simply not an efficient method for any enterprise business.

Employee Burnout

To put it bluntly, many aspects of manual invoice processing are no fun for an accounts payable team. Manual data entry, sorting through multiple formats of invoices, trying to get invoices routed correctly, and other tasks associated with invoice processing are tedious, repetitive, and sometimes frustrating. For highly skilled AP professionals, having to dedicate their workdays to those kinds of tasks can have a negative impact on employee engagement. That can lead to higher rates of burnout and turnover, both of which can quickly become expensive propositions for an employer.

How Can Touchless Invoice Automation Boost Your Business?

Clearly, manual invoice processing should be a thing of the past for any business handling large amounts of invoices. That said, investing in a software solution with touchless invoice automation has plenty of business benefits of its own. A few ways automating your invoice processing can boost your bottom line include:

Fewer Errors

Implementing an invoice automation solution that integrates easily with your existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system drastically reduces the number of avoidable mistakes in your invoice processing. Eliminating human touchpoints helps to make sure that every invoice is processed accurately, quickly, and consistently. When issues do arise, an automated solution provides more visibility and an easily accessible audit trail that makes it simple to pinpoint where problems occurred and what needs to be done to correct them.

Faster Processing

Many of the most time-consuming tasks associated with manual invoice processing can be drastically reduced or eliminated with a touchless automation solution. Tools like OCR and automatic data capture allow speedy recognition and recording of documents that would eat up far more time in a manual system. Once that data is recorded, invoices can be automatically matched against purchase orders and routed to the appropriate teams for approval, with automated notifications and reminders making sure they are handled in a timely fashion.

Reduced Costs

Studies show that automating invoice processing can cut costs by more than $8 per invoice by reducing the hours your AP team spends entering data, correcting errors, tracking down signatures for approval, and other mundane tasks that can be handled much more smoothly with technological solutions. For an enterprise organization dealing with a large volume of invoices, those savings add up quickly.

Reduced Storage Needs

By reducing or eliminating paper documents in your invoice data capture process, a touchless invoice processing system helps to cut down on the need for physical storage. Phasing out bulky storage solutions like filing cabinets and stacks of paper folders frees up space in an office environment while also making it significantly easier to find digital data when you need it.

Improved Compliance

There are a lot of specific rules and regulations surrounding the invoicing process, and violating those rules can result in fines, sanctions, and reputational damage. An automated accounts payable solution helps to ensure that your organization is following the rules to the letter, every time. If issues do arise, a touchless invoice system provides an easy-to-follow audit trail that makes it simple to sort out where and why any compliance problems occurred.

More Useful Insights

Automating your invoice processing helps to keep a closer watch on the high volume of real-time data generated by your system. That provides a wealth of easily accessible historical data and deep insights into which elements of your process are working best and which ones could use improvements.

If you’re looking to upgrade your organization’s accounts payable operations, automating invoice processing is a must for any enterprise business. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration of the many ways AP automation tools from MHC can streamline your process for a more efficient, error-free, and cost-effective future.

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