How To Get Your Accounts Payable Process Ready For 2022
The way companies do business has changed dramatically since the beginning of 2020 two years ago. More employees are working from home, business travel was disrupted, companies in all industries are dealing with supply chain issues, and it looks like many of the effects of the pandemic will continue affecting businesses into the future.
As we look ahead to 2022, the changes and challenges faced over the past two years provide an opportunity to reevaluate core business processes like accounts payable. Changes like employees working remotely may have highlighted ways that your company’s current AP process isn’t working as well as you might like. Or maybe adjustments you made to accommodate new ways of doing business are working out great and you want to find ways to make those changes more permanent.
Looking to 2022 and beyond, the AP Automation Digital Summit 2022 predicts “an urgent shift to a more contemporary, digitally savvy, and data-driven accounts payable function.” More and more companies are looking for accounts payable solutions that are flexible, digital, data-driven, and support core business processes. You can get AP automation that does all those things and more with software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs. Here’s how:
Update Any Existing Automation
A high percentage of enterprise companies already have accounts payable automation. As you might know from experience, though, that doesn’t always mean the automation is working perfectly for your company. Much of the automation being used today is pretty basic and has a large number of limitations.
If your automation is built around tools like ERP software or it’s years out of date, then it might not deliver the functionality your company needs to thrive in 2022. Older automation software is often underdeveloped and undersupported. If there’s been turnover in IT, then the people who put the software together might not be around anymore to answer questions about it. Taking all these concerns together, these issues can make for AP automation that’s clunky to use and challenging for IT to maintain and support.
Already having automation that doesn’t work well isn’t a sign that automation can’t help your company. It just means it’s time to update your automation. Modern SaaS companies provide automation that’s user-friendly and which takes the burden of maintaining the software off your IT department.
Prioritize Internal Software
Most companies have already digitized their customer-facing software systems. For example, updated, responsive websites make it simple for customers to interact with your company. While external-facing software is a key part of maintaining good relationships with customers, internal-facing software is just as important.
Internal automation streamlines core business processes. This makes financial processes like accounts payable, which are essential to your company’s success, much easier to manage. The user-friendly software helps you retain employees. In addition, though it does not replace employees, the automation features can make things simpler if your company faces staffing shortages. The more efficient your internal software is, the better equipped your company will be to handle whatever 2022 throws at you.
Make Business Processes More Flexible
Compared to pre-pandemic statistics, more employees now prefer the option to have a hybrid workplace approach rather than being entirely remote or wholly on-site. According to an employee survey conducted by McKinsey & Company in January 2021, 65% of employees want a hybrid or fully remote working model (compared to only 38% pre-pandemic).
Hybrid models are tricky for employers. But it’s much easier for the AP department to adopt a model like this if the AP software system works the same way when accessed on-site and remotely. Employees can access cloud-based software like the SaaS modules offered by NextProcess from any location with internet availability. This means they’ll be using the exact same software whether they’re working from home or in the office.
AP automation also supports digitization, which cuts down on the need to have employees in-house processing paper-based invoices or outgoing payments. The more you can transition away from paper and into digital AP processing, the more flexibility you’ll have for the ways you manage accounts payable in the future.
Support Data Security and Compliance
Everyone’s concerned with digital security today, and for good reason. Protecting your data and the data from your customers and suppliers is an essential part of practicing business in the modern world. In addition to the ethical considerations, there are also an increasing number of legal regulations governing data security.
One way to increase data security is to partner with a software supplier that specializes in protecting financial data. Here at NextProcess, for example, we provide secure software that protects your data and works to reduce the risk of fraud. We also keep our software systems up to date with the latest in data security and regulation compliance. You’ll be able to customize your software to match the regulatory requirements that apply to your company. We’ll take care of updating the software regularly to provide top-notch data security.
Improve Data Reporting and Analysis
One of the top priorities for companies that recognize the strategic role of accounts payable is improved data reporting and analysis. With that goal in mind, AP departments and CFOs will benefit from updating accounts payable software to a system that utilizes machine learning and automatically records details of every transaction.
Machine learning technology lets the AP software become better suited to your company over time. The longer you use the technology, the more data it collects and the better it gets at recognizing patterns in accounting data. For example, AP software can detect a pattern of late payments from suppliers and alert you to the possibility of continued problems with them in the future. Being able to access information about these patterns provides a wealth of data for future predictions.
Automation software also maintains a careful record of all business transactions that makes it easy to retrieve important data reports. The system saves data and metadata for every transaction automatically and you can view this information in real-time. Search for specific data with just a few clicks or use the software to run reports. The data supplied by an AP automation system supports fraud detection, improved relationships with vendors and suppliers, more accurate forecasting, and much more.
Get 2022 off to the right start by updating your accounts payable with NextProcess automation software. Our software lets you process invoices faster and more efficiently for a lower cost than paper-based or only partly automated systems. It integrates seamlessly with existing ERPs. It also works perfectly with other NextProcess modules if you choose to update things like purchasing or CapEx as well. Use automation to improve oversight and compliance, make your process more flexible, and create a searchable database of all AP data. Contact us today for a free demonstration or to learn more about how our software can support your company this upcoming year and on into the future.