Would you believe that accounts payable processes can be dramatically improved by meeting just five easy goals? A few procedures will enable you to smooth out efficiency issues, reducing the amount of time spent on each individual invoice. Following these readily implemented fixes will enable you to save a great deal of effort and money in the long run.
AP Process Goal One: Get Your Office Set Up to Accept Electronic Invoices
Your first goal is to eliminate paper invoices. This means making the push towards a full-time, standard electronic invoicing practice. Most suppliers today will be glad to send you a PDF invoice that doesn't need to be signed, checked and scanned. This means no more faxing, as well.
Making the switch to electronic invoicing is an instant efficiency upgrade that will ultimately allow you to complete invoicing and bill payment significantly faster than ever before.
AP Process Goal Two: Break Free From Paper-Based Data Entry
Your next goal in improving accounts payable procedures is to start getting rid of the paper trail associated with data entry. You may even consider offering rewards and incentives to your suppliers when they set up electronic invoicing with you.
In the meantime, you can centralize scanning for any paper-based data that your organization still have to process. You can most easily do this by hiring a qualified service to take care of the tedious labor associated with parsing the data and entering it into your data files.
AP Process Goal Three: Make Your Invoicing as Automatic as Possible
A third goal for improving accounts payable is to automate your entire invoicing cycle from start to finish. The time you invest in automating your billing will pay your organization huge dividends when it allows you to get through a boatload of invoices with an easy, efficient new routine. You’ll likely find that the time it takes you to collect, approve and scan invoices will be significantly reduced. The end result? More time to concentrate on other aspects of your daily operation that require immediate time and attention.
AP Process Goal Four: Standardize as Many Processes as Possible
It’s a common occurrence, in organizations that don't have an efficiently streamlined and automated invoicing mechanism, that vendors tend to send their invoices to every department in the office with the exception of AP. Imagine for a moment the confusion and frustration that you would experience if you were waiting a week or longer for an invoice that you didn't know you already had! What’s worse, you could irritate your vendors with requests for invoices they had already sent.
The main goal behind standardizing your invoicing procedure is to allow for a smooth, orderly system that lets you account for each new invoice as soon as it arrives. From the moment you receive an invoice, preferably electronically, you can have a specific set of steps to see that transaction through, end-to-end. A neat, organized operation doesn’t just benefit you, but all your employees and customers.
AP Process Goal Five: Archive Your Data as Soon as Possible
Perhaps the most important goal of the streamlining effort is to archive all of your incoming invoice data. Who wants a dusty, potentially disorganized file cabinet full of paper invoices? It's so much easier to file everything digitally. Cloud storage technology has rapidly advanced in the last few years, becoming more affordable, easy to implement and expandable for your growing and changing business needs. It's an excellent idea to add a digital archiving annex to your office in order to quickly receive, process and store all of the information related to your invoices.
By setting up electronic invoicing, eliminating paper-based data entry, automating your billing, standardizing your invoicing procedures and digitally archiving your data, your organization can streamline its accounts payable efforts, reduce waste, realize cost-savings, enhance your vendor relationships, and make the process more rewarding for your AP staff. We call that an all-around win.
Need more ideas about improving your accounts payable? We can help.