It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
For years, accounts payable (AP) leaders pined for the days when invoices would flow through their department and post directly to their ERP, with little or no intervention required by AP staff.
AP automation solutions and invoice processing software would make it all possible.
While 77 percent of AP departments now have deployed some type of AP automation solution1 – scanning software, optical character recognition (OCR), a supplier portal, or something else – most AP departments are still manually handling most of the invoices they receive from suppliers2.
It’s not uncommon for a single invoice to be handled five or more times before it is approved for payment. In addition, many AP departments exacerbate the problem by paying their suppliers with paper checks, which require staff to print, stuff, mail checks, and manually reconcile bank statements.
Why AP is so labor-intensive
Every manual task in the accounts payable cycle results in higher costs, more opportunities for errors, a greater chance of delays and lost invoices, and less visibility into where things stand in the process.
Automation isn’t to blame for all these manual tasks. Instead, the fault lies with the piecemeal approach most AP departments have taken to automate their invoice processing and supplier payments.
When processing invoices and paying suppliers, AP departments big and small rely on an assortment of point solutions and closed-loop networks, each with its logins and passwords, user authentication, file formats, and proprietary integrations. Manual intervention and data silos abound. As a result, the typical AP practitioner spends 84 percent of their typical workday on manual, repetitive tasks such as keying data, shuffling paper, and chasing down information.
Manual tasks undermine the entire accounts payable cycle: