4 Things to Know About an AP Automation Tool’s Accounts Payable Workflow Capabilities

July 14, 2022

5 min read

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You’ve spent years scanning paper invoices and sending them via email, Fed-Ex, or other manual accounts payable workflow routes for approval(s). But your team has decided to digitize invoice processing with an AP automation solution.

You wonder how the tool will handle your myriad properties and the wide variety of approval processes in place. Because, in your organization, it’s not just a matter of routing invoices to approvers based solely on their dollar amount or category. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

That’s when you need to investigate AP automation solutions that have truly configurable approval workflow capabilities that can address any combination of requirements.

Before you take the plunge, here’s a quick guide on the accounts payable workflow criteria you should consider:

1. Can the AP Automation Solution Support Accounts Payable Workflows Based on Many Different Data Elements & Rules?

Most AP automation solutions can set up straight-forward invoice approval workflows based on invoice amount, GL code, and property. But not all let you configure accounts payable workflows triggered by a broad range of data elements.

Nexus, for example, can let you establish rules that automatically route invoices based on their:

  • GL Category
  • MTD Budget Comparison
  • YTD Budget Comparison
  • Yearly Budget Comparison
  • Department
  • Specific Vendor
  • Contract Code
  • Job Code
  • Property

So, for example, you can have an accounts payable workflow that sends all over-budget invoices for specific job codes to George Abrams in Construction Finance.

You could also have a workflow that automatically routes invoices from specific vendors to specific stakeholders, bypassing “normal” approvers. This type of workflow is often used when a supplier needs early payment – and you want to make sure the invoice is seen, approved, and marked for payment quickly.

Here’s a sample automated accounts payable workflow rule that would allow specific vendor invoices to be routed to specific stakeholders for immediate review and action

2. Can the Solution Provide an Accounts Payable Workflow Where Single Invoices Get Split Between Different Cost Centers?

You may also receive invoices that need to be allocated to different cost centers or GL codes, and each cost center requires a different set of approvers.

For example, an HVAC vendor may do work for multiple properties and send a single invoice. The AP solution should be flexible enough to electronically route the invoice to different approvers, based on the property and code. It should also route the invoice to the different approvers automatically (and simultaneously).

Finally, the software should only consider the invoice approved when both the final approvers have given the green light.

Here’s another accounts payable workflow that might be required. You might receive one invoice that is billed against two different cost centers, and therefore requires two different invoice approval paths.
Here’s another accounts payable workflow that might be required. You might receive one invoice that is billed against two different cost centers, and therefore requires two different invoice approval paths.

3. Can the AP Automation Software Eliminate Invoice Approval Requirement, When PO is Already Approved?

Some AP solutions enable users to create an electronic PO that requires approval before they can purchase office supplies, maintenance equipment, and other goods and services.

But many AP departments don’t want to spend time approving invoices that correspond to already approved POs, when the dollar amounts are the same.

So, it’s important to vet that an AP automation tool can accommodate this particular accounts payable workflow. It should be able to bypass the invoice approval workflow when the PO and invoice are an exact match. Should the invoice be higher, the regular invoice workflow should automatically be triggered.

4. Can You See the Entire Workflow for an Invoice?

You don’t want any of your AP team members to be left in the dark once they have approved an invoice, with no idea where it will route next and/or how many more steps are needed before it’s finally approved for payment. Instead, they should have full visibility into what will happen with every invoice, every time.

That’s why you’ll want to ensure your AP automation software can display all the steps – and reviewers – an invoice will go through, up front, for any authorized user to see. This invoice roadmap allows team members to set and manage expectations and stay in the know.

It's helpful to be able to see the entire accounts payable workflow for an invoice on one screen
In NexusPayables, just click “Projected Workflow” to view how many more reviewers are assigned to an invoice, and who those reviewers are

Highly Configurable Accounts Payable Workflows – A Critical Part of AP Automation

Your AP team already wears many hats. The last one they should don is that of air-traffic controller – ensuring the right invoices get to the appropriate reviewers, especially when there is AP automation software that can ensure all invoices land just right.

Be sure to select an AP automation software that can accommodate your business’s unique workflow needs – and can let you grow and change them to keep pace with your business.

Nexus Approval Workflow Facts
  • Nexus clients have anywhere from 2 to 200+ accounts payable workflow rules – all routing invoices automatically to the right approvers, every time
  • Nexus has 60+ different workflow rule types which can be setup independently or in conjunction with other rules to meet the most complex approval routing requirements