In Paper-AP-opolis, all may appear to be calm. Dangers lurk around every turn, however. The supervillains Fraud, Wasted Time, and Lack of Visibility strike with regularity, unleashing chaos and disruption. Paper-AP-opolis’ citizens also need to contend with data entry errors, disappearing invoices, and missing money. They often wish they could banish these terrors for good. In the meantime, they dream of a host of fierce superpowers to help them fight these afflictions head on.
- X-ray vision. If capable of seeing through physical objects, one could peer through off site building walls and filing cabinets where paper-based documentation was stored. There’d be no need to spend time traveling to that location and searching through mountains of paperwork to retrieve what was needed for audits, reporting, or resolution of supplier disputes.
- Super speed. Moving much faster than the average human, one could breeze through the time-consuming tasks that require so much time in a manual accounts payable world such as reviewing vendor invoices for completeness and accuracy, ensuring they match the PO and what was received, manually entering data into systems, securing all the necessary approvals, and cutting checks. By performing everything faster, one can avoid late payment penalties and resolve coding errors faster. With additional time, cash management analysis and financial forecasting could be performed.
- Superhuman endurance. With this ability, one could operate for extended periods of time and remain calm through stressful situations like month end close. It’d be easy to handle an increase in supplier invoices without tiring out. More suppliers, more invoices, and more checks would equate to no problem if one could tolerate extreme hunger and thirst and resist the urge to sleep.
- Telepathy. Reading minds would allow one to know if and when an approver in an organization was going to sign off on an invoice. This way, the supplier would have an answer during their phone call inquiring about how long it was going to take for them to receive payment.
- Echolocation. If one could locate objects by using sound waves like a bat, it’d be simple to find the lost invoice that got buried beneath other stacks of paper on an approver’s desk, got stuck in an email inbox, or was gathering dust in an unopened envelope somewhere.
- Multiplicity. Being able to replicate oneself and be in several places at once would permit someone to send one of their selves to rapidly deliver supplier payments via check, bypassing the mail. Vendors, therefore, wouldn’t need to worry about inconsistent mail float and not having enough cash on hand to perform critical business functions.
- Clairsentience. By being able to learn an item’s history simply by touching it, one could readily answer “Was this invoice processed already?” and avoid the major financial drain of duplicate payments and all the time it takes to coordinate getting a supplier to issue a refund if an invoice has been paid twice.
- Summoning. Since managers and executives lack visibility and have a hard time identifying trends and accessing actionable data when everything lives on paper and spreadsheets, they could really benefit from the ability to transport a person of their choosing to appear before them to provide them with the information they need to make a specific business decision.
- Time control. Having the capacity to revert to the past and change something would help when the AP Team needs to prevent a fraudster from stealing a check and manipulating its data to divert funds to their own account. One could avoid the problem of paper checks being stolen and altered while in transit to the supplier.
- Perfect recollection. With an acute memory detailing everything that’s ever happened or been communicated, one would never lose track of the various payment deadlines of all suppliers. This would allow one to tie payment schedules to those of suppliers so it’d be possible to take advantage of early-pay discounts.
It can seem like you need extraordinary powers and otherworldly abilities to survive in a manual, paper-based AP world. Since a freak accident in a laboratory or transmission of supernatural powers by another method are unlikely, implementing an automation solution to improve invoice processing and payments may be the next plot to consider. It can help your organization control spend, accelerate approvals, improve customer service, and maintain compliance. Overall, you’ll find you won’t require superpowers because automation will maximize the performance of your whole team.