Accounts payable automation was a hot topic among IT professionals in the expo hall and in the educational sessions at last week’s Collaborate17 event for the Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) community.
This came as no surprise to us.
IT departments must balance rapidly changing technology with ever-increasing compliance and security demands, tight capital budgets, and heightened demands from internal stakeholders.
Against this backdrop, accounts payable automation benefits IT professionals in three ways:
- Tighter control: Ensuring compliance and security is a top functional priority of IT professionals. But paper-based accounts payable processes do not provide:
> tracking of invoice history and approvals
> mechanisms for ensuring staff adhere to approval policies and separation of duties guidelines
> chain of custody assurances
> readily available audit data
> controls for Sarbanes-Oxley and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
> ways to prevent documents from being discarded or destroyed ahead of deadlines set by regulators or auditors.
Automation safeguards sensitive financial data through configurable roles-based access and interface controls. The technology also creates complete audit trails of all system activities and provides real-time visibility into user activities and the ability to quickly adjust security controls. Automated document retention policies, legal holds, and disposition workflows ensure documents are not prematurely discarded or destroyed.
- Reduced storage costs: On-site and off-site document storage is expensive. By electronically archiving and managing invoice data and providing authorized users with instant online access to information, automation eliminates the need for physical document storage.
- Seamless integration with downstream systems: An ERP platform is the system of record for accounts payable. It is the source of information on purchase orders, supplier master data, accounting /general ledger tables, and managing invoice information. It is the tool that ensures adherence to the organization’s financial policies.
Despite the importance of the ERP to financial operations, and the tremendous upfront and ongoing investments that businesses make in their ERPs, many ERP systems are not fully leveraged because the payables processes that touch these expensive systems have not been optimized. As a result, many IT departments are forced to use custom code or kluge processes as a work-around. Electronic invoicing integrates with any ERP system or other business application, providing a single platform for managing front- and back-office information and processes. The technology automatically syncs data between various systems, with no duplication of content. It also connects an organization’s structured data, such as data residing in an ERP system, with unstructured content such as invoices, documents, and images. Invoices are electronically stored in a secure archive with a link back into the ERP for fast and easy retrieval as data is needed.
It is for these reasons IT professionals are embracing accounts payable automation.
To see how accounts payable automation can help your organization’s IT department, download our white paper on ERP integration for more detail on integration an automated accounts payable system with your ERP.