Here’s How Improving the Accounts Payable Process Improves Utility Management
Utility invoices come through every company’s accounts payable department. When everything goes well, paying them is an essential, routine part of AP’s job. Utilities payments are a time-consuming part of accounting, but there’s a good chance most people in the company don’t them a second thought as long as they’re paid on time. But what if something goes wrong?
Missed or late utility payments can result in suppliers cutting off your company’s utilities. It might even catch you off-guard. Maybe the invoice or payment was lost in the mail. Perhaps the person who was responsible for paying those bills left the company and no one else noticed it. Or maybe the AP department just got buried under a mountain of paperwork and couldn’t process invoices in time to avoid late payments.
It only takes one mistake with utilities to reveal how important it is to pay these bills on time. If your company has had utilities get cut off somewhere or received warnings from utility companies, it’s time to act. Accounts Payable automation can fix the problems that most often lead to late or missed payments.
Digitized Invoices Don’t Go Missing
Being able to use digital invoices effectively is one of the benefits that come along with implementing accounts payable automation. Digitization helps solve a common problem with utilities management—lost mail.
When you’re receiving paper invoices through the mail and sending paper checks as payment, there’s always a risk they’ll be lost in the mail. Failed delivery at either step of this process can mean falling behind on payments. It might even lead to missing a payment without knowing.
Even if everything goes well with delivery, it’s easy to misplace paper invoices if your AP department is overwhelmed with paperwork. Even if you do find a missing invoice, it might be too late to process the payment on time.
AP automation makes it easy to accept digital invoices from utility companies. If the companies want to send paper invoices, then you can scan the invoices into the system as soon as you receive them. With NextProcess, our proprietary Optical Character Recognition and Image Indexing features ensure over 99% accuracy on every invoice. The system also makes it easy to pay online if suppliers offer that option.
Automated Alerts Keep Payments On-Time
Once you get NextProcess’ AP automation up and running, the system can process and pay most invoices automatically. This speeds up invoice processing significantly. Your customized settings determine when the system can issue payments automatically and when it notifies employees to approve payments.
If payments require approval, our automation system sends timely reminder notifications. Approvers with access to the system can log in from any location with internet access to check and approve invoices. This helps keep invoice processing moving along smoothly. If for some reason an approver doesn’t respond, the system will send repeated reminders.
In addition, the NextProcess system tracks which payments happen each month. If a utility payment hasn’t happened on time, the system would notice that the bill wasn’t paid. The software will then notify someone to check and find out what’s going on. These types of automated alerts help prevent late invoices and speed up AP processing.
Vendor Portal Streamlines Utility Relationships
NextProcess’ AP automation system includes a Vendor Portal feature which lets you give suppliers limited access to your system. Setting up a supplier portal lets utility companies log into your system to update their information, submit invoices, and check the status of their payments.
This feature makes customer service much easier for your AP department. Instead of calling up one of your employees during regular business hours, suppliers can log in at their convenience to find answers to most questions.
The supplier portal is also useful if suppliers prefer you to send paper checks. If they notice a payment seems late, they can log in and see its status in your system. This shows suppliers you issued payment on time. It helps catch postal delays or missing checks early on and shows your company isn’t at fault.
Improved Visibility Gives You Better Oversight
In many cases, companies don’t have a good way of looking at everything that’s going on in the accounts payable department. Even if you’re not falling behind on or missing utilities invoice payments, it’s not always easy to see what is going where or notice when something goes missing.
Digitizing your invoices and processing them digitally leaves a virtual “paper trail” that provides a wealth of data. As NextProcess’ AP system processes your invoices, it logs all the related information automatically. It also updates in real time.
At any given moment, you can log into the system and see all the information related to utility invoices the system is currently processing. You can also easily search through information about past invoices. Our digital database is easy to search, and you can run reports quickly. This helps you catch problems faster, makes audits easier, and provides accurate data for use in financial planning.
More Than Just Utilities
Perhaps the best part about automating the accounts payable department to improve utility management is that this solution improves the entire AP process. It’s not just utilities invoices that become easier to manage; it’s every invoice.
NextProcess’ AP Automation Software speeds up processing for every invoice and minimizes data errors. Improved accuracy and speed reduce processing costs. You’ll also save money by avoiding late fees and penalties. You can customize the software settings to match your company’s exact needs and automatically enforce best practices policies. It also provides tools to give you increased insight into and control over invoice processing and related data. To learn more and schedule a free demo, contact us today.