Organisations remain under significant pressure to reign-in their spending while maximising efficiencies. It’s a challenge many are facing – how to improve operational efficiency without having to incur huge additional costs? Accounts payable (AP) teams are no different as they look to improve AP efficiency without having to invest in expensive and complex new IT systems. Here I’d like to provide the following top tips to finance and AP managers who are trying to ‘do more with less’.

1. Electronically image all supplier invoices

Invest in a document imaging solution that integrates into your accounting/ERP system. For a nominal outlay, this enables you to image all incoming supplier invoices. These imaged invoices can then be automatically linked to the appropriate transaction records in the accounting system. With document imaging, invoices will never get lost or mislaid again.

2. Automatically route invoices around the organisation for approval

Circulate the imaged invoices for electronic authorisation. This replaces the time-consuming and costly circulation of paper invoices for physical sign-off. Electronic document authorisation software will even manage the invoice approval process for you by automatically emailing the imaged invoices to the relevant people for their authorisation. As well as freeing-up the AP team’s time, electronic document authorisation provides an accurate record of who has approved what and when.

3. Facilitate authorisation ‘on the move’

By harnessing mobile technology, managers can authorise invoices ‘on the move’ via their smart phones, further streamlining the invoice authorisation process.

4. Capture invoice data using OCR

Use optical character recognition (OCR) technology to reduce the manual data entry of invoice information by up to 80 per cent. OCR automatically captures data from imaged invoices and verifies the data before it is uploaded to the accounting system. With less manual data entry, the AP team can spend more time adding value.

5. Automatically email remittance advices

Don’t waste time and effort printing-out, enveloping and posting remittance advices. Instead, electronically email all remittances. This is both efficient and cost-effective. By investing in electronic document delivery software, remittances can be automatically emailed out as soon as payment is made, streamlining the AP process while improving supplier relationships.

Finding ways to streamline accounts payable needn’t be a painful experience. During times of budgetary constraint, it’s important to find solutions, such as document management and imaging software, that can deliver significant cost and efficiency benefits for a nominal outlay.