Accounts payable automation in Freight Forwarding and Logistics companies is taking off, and soon they would have eliminated paper once and for all. Now is the time to re-evaluate AP automation and pick a place to get started. Most AP departments in Forwarding companies are still stuck in the era of card catalogs because it’s not a client-facing, revenue generating function.
Forwarding companies never saw a need to invest money in it, other than to hire people. If they were using any automated solutions, the approach was piecemeal–maybe they were scanning invoices, or doing a few payments.
But every forwarding and Logistics company is familiar with the arduous process of paying supplier invoices, not to mention the sea of paper and the information management challenges it creates. Regardless of a company’s size, nearly every enterprise must respond to invoices for Freight, Trucking, Carrier, CASS invoices in order to perform without interruption. Failure to pay promptly can result in severe penalties or worse – no lights!
The approval of invoices and resolving of billing discrepancies can require many man hours. Inefficiencies may prevent organizations from taking advantage of invoice discounts and may result in late payment fees, or even damage to a company’s reputation. Invoice digital capture and automated workflow address these challenges. Together, they provide a seamless flow of accurate and timely information, expediting processing and saving precious human capital for more important projects.
Electronic capture and storage of invoicing information, coupled with automated workflow, ensures that the right information is available to the right people for action at the right time. It dramatically reduces errors and makes information accessible, while providing more security than is available in a paper-processing environment. Automation saves considerable staff resources and ensures prompt payment. In addition, it provides the details needed for easy audits, regulatory compliance, and process improvements.
There are many ways that a company can tap into automation for invoice processing improvement. Here are six benefits of improving the process with electronic capture and automated workflow.
- Eliminate Paper at the source – make information available instantly :After an invoice is received, the invoice has to be approved for payment. Invoices may need to be matched to accruals and written approvals or signatures may be required before payments can be made. Some invoices may result in suspension until a condition is met or proof of product receipt (or services) is given. Other payments may be denied.
- Expedite Approval :With automated workflow, invoices can be matched to purchase order numbers during the capture process and then sent into a queue to export for immediate approval, suspension, or denial.
- Save money: take advantage of quick-pay discounts and avoid penalties : With the proper capture and automated workflow solution, large volumes of invoices and their discount and penalty information can be entered as payables within hours of their receipt, and approved and processed in time. A penny saved is truly a penny earned…and the savings can be significant.
- Integrate with accounts payable systems: leverage data and remove errors: Too frequently, organizations have valuable information in disparate silos that can not communicate with each other, making management of this information daunting – even when it is all stored electronically. Integration of automated workflow with line-of-business applications such as a payables system makes it possible to extract and share data between applications.
- Comply and audit more easily: Many of us have faced the dreaded moment of a creditor informing us that payment has not been made when we were sure it was paid on time. Proving this with facts can take hours in a paper system, especially if an invoice never was filed, or – even worse – was filed in the wrong location. When information is stored digitally, authorized persons can get an overview in an instant. Digital workflow makes it possible for staff to see where any invoice is in the process, to track who was responsible for which actions, and at what time. Detailed reporting assists the staff in tracking down information quickly and accurately. The four ‘Ws’ relating to payables transactions – Who authorized payment, What was authorized, When it was authorized and paid, and Why the payment was made (or denied) – can be substantiated definitively.
- Maximize productivity: process, analyze, evaluate, improve: Effective deployment of digital capture and automated workflow means that the time previously spent on processing invoices in a paper environment can be redirected toward more meaningful work. Instead of handling inquiries, management and staff can spend their time strategically reviewing and analyzing data related to payments made, and project future costs and trends more easily. The consistency and completeness of information facilitates thorough analysis, helping management to make informed decisions more quickly.Workflow reporting also enables managers to gain an overview of productivity and processing in an instant, and enables them to improve procedures continually. Bottlenecks caused by extreme volumes or individual inefficiency can be discovered before they become problematic, and changes can be made to improve the routing of documents.
Workflow ensures that this information is accessible to the right people at the right time for the necessary action. A company’s work can continue without interruption regardless of the location of the workers, as long as they have access to the Internet. Less time is spent on the grand paper chase, and as a result, payments go out the door more quickly. Detailed reports and analyses contribute to continually improved processes, leaving more time for other, more meaningful pursuits.
In conclusion, Maximize productivity: process, analyze, evaluate, improve.