Accounting departments looking to innovate are searching for technology solutions to improve their departmental efficiency. The advent of automation technology is becoming a common solution that these departments are turning to. The most common usage of automation in accounting is with the Accounts Payable process. When automation is implemented in accounts payable, it’s called Touchless AP. Many myths and misconceptions surround "Touchless AP" and what it can do for your team. Here are the most common.
Myth: Touchless AP will make you lose control of the process
Some organizations believe that they keep less control over accounts payable with Touchless AP. Nothing could be further from the truth. The right AP automation platform allows you to customize workflows and approval routing based off your unique processes and internal controls. You can optimize your AP processes to improve productivity and ensure a steady processing rate.
Fact: Touchless AP solutions are flexible to your needs
A document-centric AP automation solution will provide instant access to the invoices, purchase orders, and receipts that you need. You have full visibility into the documents going through the system and you’re able to easily search through them, conduct spot checks, and follow up on any discrepancies. The increased visibility offers many benefits to other parts of the organization too, as they will have complete and accurate AP data.
Granular permissions controls also enable you to grant specific access to certain documents, while blocking access to sensitive information that other team members may not be authorized to view. For example, permissions can be set up on an individual account level or set up as a role-based option.
Regardless of the complexity of your AP workflow, the right automation software allows you the flexibility to keep your current processes, while also allowing for improvements in this process going forward. In the end, you end up with more control and visibility into the process than you did going in.
Myth: Touchless AP isn’t secure
Data breaches are constantly in the news, impacting companies large and small. Consumers worry about their personal information getting lost every time they do anything online, and there is a lot of distrust surrounding technology because of this. Agility PR reports that 55 percent of Americans have worsening feelings about data breaches, and 25 percent of people don’t trust any industry with their data. Businesses are wondering whether they’re the next to be hit, and a shortage in cyber security professionals adds to the panic. This data distrust comes with people into the workplace, leading to organizations taking a skeptical eye at innovations such as Touchless AP.
It’s hard to overcome the assumption that all data is at risk, especially when you’re working with sensitive data such as payment information. However, the reality is not quite as concerning as you might expect.
Fact: Touchless AP utilizes the latest in security technology
The right automation platform will provide layers of security to the system, preventing data breaches from occurring. Manual processes are prone to security risks and human error. Many data breaches occur through social engineering, where the attacker will focus on human points of failure in the system. They succeed when there is a lack of cyber security awareness, not enough protection in place, and unnecessary manual systems. The potential for human error is high in an environment without automated data entry.
Paperless automated processes have several features that get in the way of the cyber attacker’s goals. The first is that there is a complete audit trail from start to finish, which makes it possible to identify any suspect behavior and use the appropriate measures to prevent access.
Strong user permissions are particularly useful for making a hacker’s job more difficult. Many systems get compromised due to accounts that have too much access to a particular system, or ones that are not deleted when employees leave the company. When each user account only has the bare minimum permissions required to do their job, there is much better control over the system and less risk of someone gaining unauthorized access.
Encryption technology is another way to secure sensitive data. The information becomes impossible to decipher without access to the encryption key, which is controlled by a trusted entity. Even if an attack managed to break into a system to steal data, they would not be able to manually decrypt it. Additional security measures are in place to protect the encryption key.
These security layers work together to keep the Touchless AP system safe and secure.
Myth: I’ll never have to touch another invoice again
The hype surrounding Touchless AP is that organizations will never need to get hands-on with an invoice. The reality is that there are always going to be invoices that will require human review for various reasons. Automation isn’t about eliminating the human element, it’s about saving the department time with the tools they need to be more productive. Your team ends up empowered through this tool and they’re able to spend their time on other important duties.
Fact: Touchless AP eliminates the need for human intervention in most cases
99 percent of invoices that go through a Touchless AP system can be processed automatically. However, due to the occasional poor quality or inaccuracy of a source document, a clerk may have to manually verify or correct information. OCR is excellent at what it does, but it's not a miracle worker. You may also run into edge cases that require a more hands-on approach. It’s important to separate the hype from the reality of Touchless AP, so people have the right expectations going in.
Myth: My current AP process is efficient enough
Changes can be difficult to make, especially if your organization has used the same AP processes for years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can be hard to overcome, especially if the people involved in making the original business processes are still involved in the accounting team. The reality is that without Touchless AP and process automation, it becomes difficult to keep up with the competition and scale operations.
Fact: Touchless AP provides a much-needed productivity boost
When accounting departments implement Touchless AP, you are reducing the hands-on labor needed to process these documents. You’re able to assign team members to more strategic tasks and those that require hands-on involvement.
It may take some time to get buy-in from the holdouts who are attached to the old business process. Once they realize how much time they save from not needing to manually handle all the AP paperwork coming through the organization, they’ll come around.
Myth: I don’t have the time or resources to implement Touchless AP
Your accounting team may be worried about the resource commitment required to implement new technology, but the other benefit to working with a cloud-based accounting automation platform is that you eliminate a lot of the hassle associated with adding a new application into the mix.
Fact: Touchless AP is easier to implement than you think
Every accounting solution is going to take some configuration, but a cloud-based system minimizes the amount of work that you need to do in order to start using it. It integrates with popular accounting solutions to provide built-in support for everything you’re already using. Integration is particularly useful for ensuring the accuracy of data, as it’s pulled straight from the system and doesn’t require someone to enter the data manually.
The training materials available through the automated accounting provider helps the team get up to speed and fully understand what they get out of the system. While it will take some resources to fully implement a Touchless AP solution, it’s a much less complex process than if your company attempted to do everything from scratch, or work with an on-premise system.
Myth: My company is too small to benefit from Touchless AP
If you’re processing enough invoices, purchase orders, and other AP paperwork to have an accounting team, then chances are your company is big enough to find value in Touchless AP.
Fact: Touchless AP enables companies to grow larger without exponentially higher labor costs
Growing businesses are expected to do more with less, which makes accounting automation even more critical for these companies. A Touchless AP system allows your accounting team to process a higher number of invoices without requiring more hires, and the staff can spend their time on other accounting tasks of higher-value. As the company grows, the Touchless AP system scales seamlessly to account for the growth. The processing speed for payments remains consistent, and resources can be focused on other parts of the business.
Myth: I won’t save money with Touchless AP
Companies that are focused on the budget savings associated with new accounting technology, such as Touchless AP, may feel like there’s not a compelling enough financial reason to put this system in place. However, when you dig down into the numbers, you’ll see that there are many ways that Touchless AP can deliver a great ROI.
Fact: The accounting department realizes a number of direct and indirect savings with Touchless AP
Your AP processes speed up significantly when you automate most of your invoices. There are a few ways that you save money with this functionality. The first is that your company is paying quickly, which can result in early payment discounts, more favorable contract terms, and other cost savings.
The automation also provides better visibility into what is incoming and outgoing from the business accounts at all times. The sales team can use this for forecasting, while upper management can reference the system to get a top-down, transparent view of the financial health of the company. They’re able to make decisions based on accurate, up-to-date data, rather than working with a limited set of information.
After the myths are busted, you can see how valuable automation can be for your accounting team. Touchless AP isn’t magic, but it is the secret ingredient that the most efficient accounting departments are utilizing.
Ready to see if there’s a business case for your organization to implement accounting automation? Schedule a custom demo with DocuPhase today.