The Benefits of Automation in Finance

Byline: Michelle Jones, Yaskawa America, Inc.

In the 17 years that I have worked in the Accounts payable field, I have seen it go through many changes. One that has proven to be the most beneficial thus far is the move to automation. As I came to Yaskawa, in July 2010, the Accounts Payable department was in the process of upgrading their software. After doing intensive research on the software available and compatible to the SAP system we decided to go with Dolphin 5.0.

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing AP go through this exciting metamorphosis. Although change can be painful , it was not only necessary, but welcomed. It was time consuming to have to go through the process of testing out the software in our development environment to make sure that it could do everything that it promised to do without losing our current data. This process required long hours, lots of meetings, and plenty of test scenarios. Our department had to be focused and dedicated to this improvement because we still had to carry on our regular day-to- day responsibilities. Although this was a time consuming and tedious task, the benefits we gained through this upgrade are well worth it.

The three key benefits of invoice automation are efficiency, control, and visibility. With businesses under pressure to work faster, smarter, and greener, organizations can reap significant benefits by implementing automation in Accounts Payable.

One of the major changes that has enhanced our departments productivity is the ability for the system to auto post about 75% of our purchase order invoices, the only way the system would not be able to post the invoices would be in the case that the goods were not received. This feature has not only cut down on human error but has given us the time to focus on other areas of our job function.

Another benefit of automation is the ability to send out all invoices through our SAP system which cuts down on invoices getting lost and gives the approver the ability to see the invoice right away. This improves on approval turnaround time, which becomes very beneficial when dealing with discount vendors.

Since becoming automated in our process we have gained several other benefits:

         Reduced Storage costs: The storage cost has been reduced by at least 60% since all our invoices are scanned and stored in our system, which makes them available for immediate retrieval.

         The ability to analyze and control cash flow: Greater visibility into the Accounts Payable process offers insight that allows us the chance to negotiate better pricing with vendors and provides real-time reports and information to management in regard to the financial pulse of the company.

         Increased vendor satisfaction: We noticed this in our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey

         Achieve vendor on-time or early payment discounts: We have a high volume of vendors that will offer discounts if we are able to pay our invoices early. Our automation upgrade has afforded us the opportunity to take advantage of these discounts 98% percent of the time.

 

In our current economy, every company is looking for ways to cut cost, improve efficiency, and drive down risk. The automation of Accounts Payable has proven in a short amount of time to be an extremely effective method in achieving these goals.