How Automation Can Solve Your AP Pain Points

Tuesday, Nov 15th 2022
How Automation Can Solve Your AP Pain Points

Despite AP processes being ubiquitous across any business that sends and receives payments, many are still using manual systems. While these technically work, it’s easy to overlook the pain points manual AP processes bring if you haven’t tried automation software.

Sue Sharp, Financial Controller at Radiant Post, has plenty of experience dealing with the pain points of AP processes. Here are some examples of the issues she faced and how integrating Beanworks’ AP automation platform helped.

Where Does it Hurt? Pain Points in Accounting

The issues Sue Sharp raises are likely shared among many SMBs, whether or not they have a dedicated financing department. Either way, the chances are high that your business experiences one or more of these pain points.

1. Manual Data Entry

Data entry is a cornerstone of AP processes, and it’s easy to overlook how much time it actually takes if it’s what you’re used to doing. But take a step back and think about how many invoices you process a day, and how long it can take to input information into your bookkeeping software.

For example, a single invoice will typically involve:

  • Invoice number
  • Company details
  • Amount payable
  • Outstanding/finalised payment

Once you start multiplying this data entry by the number of invoices you process, it’s easy to see where all the time goes. Radiant Post processes around 200 invoices a month, and, although this is fewer than some businesses, it highlights how much time your company can spend manually entering invoice details. As Sue points out:

“The AP process was time-consuming – manual data entry, too much paperwork, filing of that paperwork.”

2. Day-to-Day Admin Tasks

Finance departments have a lot of day-to-day admin related to invoices and AP processes. It could be as simple as chasing down payments, sending emails, or simply processing invoices.

The bottom line is that this all takes time and distracts finance teams from more valuable work. Whether you want to think of it as lost productivity or not, it’s easy to sink a lot of time into everyday admin. 

3. Authorisation Processes

SMBs have (comparatively) small authorisation chains, but you can still expect a single invoice to be passed across 2 or 3 desks at minimum. It might have to make its way through a Finance Director, Managing Director and department heads before it can be ticked off for payment.

If you’re based in an office, this is generally less of an issue. Finance teams can walk around getting manual authorisation, but this still takes time. However, if you’re remote – or working across larger/multiple office spaces – this is all typically done by email.

Suddenly, you’ve got numerous email chains related to the same invoice. Next thing you know, you’re sending reminders and follow-ups because people have, understandably, missed your email.

Sue Sharp raises authorisation processes as a major pain point by stating, “I would forward the invoice email for it to be approved, and it wasn’t necessarily one person who would approve that invoice. So, I would have to send that invoice out to maybe four people by email. But it wouldn’t be as quick as I wanted.”

All this translates to cumbersome authorisation processes and lost time. That invoice that you could have sent within a few hours is delayed by days because you’re still waiting on someone in the chain to give it their okay.

4. Paper Documents

Many manual AP processes still rely on paper documentation. This involves printing invoices, which are then copied into bookkeeping software, and storage of invoices once they have been processed.

A significant factor in this pain point is the cost of printing and processing documents. It’s no secret that printer ink is expensive and, although paper is less so, it’s still another cost. Once you bring in stationary supplies and storage space, the costs start to add up.

Sue Sharp explains that “I really think invoicing is a waste of paper. You could print one invoice out that could be three or four bits of paper. I’ve got to find a new way of processing all this paperwork.”

Then, of course, there are the time-based issues of processing paper documents and searching for lost documentation. It can be easy to lose an invoice while you’re waiting on authorisation, and trying to find it again when it needs filing is nothing but wasted time. 

How Beanworks AP Automation Can Help

Businesses experiencing these issues with their AP processes are perfectly placed to take advantage of Beanworks’ AP automation software. Here is a breakdown of how it can help solve your accounting problems.

Automation

The most obvious benefit is automation. If nothing else, it removes the necessity for repetitive day-to-day tasks associated with AP processes, such as entering invoice details and other data entry. Automation negates much of the time spent on invoicing, as it makes it possible to input numerous invoices in the same time it takes to do one manually. Whether in the office, or working remotely, the benefits automation brings is significant. 

“Even if I was in the office, I’d still be looking at what we’ve done with Beanworks” – Sue Sharp, Financial Controller at Radiant Post

Digital Invoicing

When we combine this with a digital-only invoicing process, the benefits of AP automation become clear. You won’t have to hunt for lost documentation because everything is based in one system, which can send and receive invoices without you needing to print them off.

But Beanworks AP automation goes beyond this thanks to its simple authorisation system. Anyone involved in the authorisation chain can log in to the service to okay invoices, meaning no more missed emails and follow-ups!

Bookkeeping Integration

Importantly, Beanworks is easily integrated into your chosen bookkeeping software, whether this is Quickbooks, Sage, Xero, or anything else you might choose. This means you don’t need to change your whole accounting processes, which minimises growing pains and helps you continue as normal.

Getting Started with Beanworks AP Automation

As Radiant Post has found, automation is the future of businesses, and there’s no better time than right now to get involved. Beanworks’ AP automation software will help your company minimise its accounting pain points thanks to its centralised and function-driven tools.

So, if you’d like a demonstration of how Beanworks can help, get in touch.