Neil Robertson Jun 18, 2020 11:00:00 AM 11 min read

How AP automation & spend management can help CFOs right now

How can AP automation & spend management help CFOs right now? CFOs can use these solutions to conserve cash, control spend, reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve on their spend analytics.

The financial uncertainty precipitated by lockdown, combined with the growing recession, has the makings of a financial “perfect storm”.

Corporate survival is top of the agenda, and every CFO is already pulling all available financial “levers” to conserve cash.

But at a time when financial agility has never been more important, the problem for every financial professional is that many of these available “levers” are blunt tools.

These common levers include headcount reductions, recruitment freezes, capital expenditure bans, deferred supplier payments and even pushing back on low-value spend – anything and everything to conserve cashflow.

However, while cash conservation is critical, the issue is that finance simply do not have the information they require to make more granular and informed decisions in a timely manner. This can make life more difficult and frustrating for staff already disrupted by the lockdown.


Where do you go from here?

The solution is purchasing and accounts payable automation that can provide real-time visibility and enterprise-wide spend management and control, enabling smarter decisions.

But why stop there?

Why not go a step further and automate your online buying?

We all know why we, personally, buy online: it is convenient, offers a wider choice, is always competitively priced, and enables deliveries to any address (great for lockdown). So why don’t we embrace these benefits within our businesses?

The answer used to be that allowing online purchasing removed finance’s visibility and control over this area of spend, followed by an increased workload for the accounts payable team as they then have to collect, code and process the invoices for approval and post to the accounting / ERP application.

Not anymore.

With Compleat’s accounts payable automation software, which includes fully integrated online buying capabilities with Amazon Business / Business Prime and a growing number of other leading providers – and that changes everything.


Purchasing automation – buy online

From the user’s perspective – those wanting to buy something – the experience is both familiar, convenient and can be undertaken from any device. As important, competitive marketplaces like Amazon Business enable everyone to achieve “best value” as for every selected item, with competitor alternatives being highlighted along with their price, availability and customer satisfaction metrics.

We all make use of this to make the best use of our own money in our private lives, so why not leverage this capability at work?

Everyone outside finance would be delighted to be able to buy this way as not only will it save them time, it will also save the business a considerable amount of money.

(Find out more about the benefits of online buying)


Spend management that delivers visibility and control

For finance, every purchase request is automatically captured from the supplier’s website as a “requisition”. They are then automatically put through the appropriate approval process before the digital order is made and digitally sent to the supplier.

With Compleat, you can now decide what level of spend requires approval by senior management (so every purchase is always both visible and controlled) before it is made.

This also introduces commitment accounting: the ability to see the cash implications of spend as it happens through real-time cash requirements reporting. This eliminates the need to wait for the invoice to arrive, be processed and eventually posted to the accounting / ERP software to understand cashflow requirements.

And as well as providing visibility and control, buying online also revolutionizes the accounts payable process.

(Discover more about controlling and managing spend)


Accounts payable automation

Not only does this capability benefit those buying online, it can also save accounts payable up to 90% of the time it currently takes them to process an invoice.

With Compleat, supplier invoices are automatically captured, reconciled against purchase orders and are sent for approval (again from any device). Once approved, they will be automatically posted to your existing accounting / ERP software. There is no paper.

(Here are just a few reasons why you should go paperless)

From buyer’s perspective, it’s much faster and transparent: they can see the status of each request and are notified when it is either approved or denied. Invoice approvals are equally simple, the invoice values are automatically checked against the order and then sent to the approver(s) to confirm receipt of the goods / services and on final approval, posted to your accounting / ERP software.

General ledger coding can also be automated and takes place either before the purchase order is placed or as part of the invoice approval process. If coding is done pre-order, accounts payable never need to touch the invoice unless there is an issue.

Finance also have total visibility over the exact status of every purchase and every supplier invoice from the moment it takes place, right through to when it has been paid. Supplier credit control calls are also simple to handle and most internal queries simple stop – precisely because everyone can see the real-time status of every current and historic transaction that is relevant to them.

Compare that to how you work today.

(Learn how an automated purchasing system can transform your business)


Cash savings and ROI

Whilst purchasing and accounts payable automation will always increase productivity (usually being referred to as savings), buying online is cheaper. But don’t take our word for it, simply grab a handful of your supplier invoices and check them against the prices on Amazon Business, you will be pleasantly surprised.

The more you spend online, the more you save – simply by paying less. For most businesses, by buying everything online, the ROI from automating the entire purchasing and accounts payable process is usually delivered in the first month  – and that means more cash in the bank account.


Smarter decisions, better financial spend management levers and happy staff

This is not a time for sitting on your hands and waiting for things to improve. Whilst turning off the spending tap will conserve cash; it remains a very blunt tool.

To survive and prosper through these turbulent times, every business needs to become more agile, make smarter spending decisions and evolve so that they can thrive in the new world order.

So if you want to optimize your ability to conserve cash, control and manage spend, reduce costs and increase productivity, maybe it’s time to think about automating your accounts payable and purchase process?

In our buyer’s guide to AP automation software, we outline how you can plan an AP automation project, including how to evaluate the solutions available and what questions to ask vendors, as well as how AP automation software can transform your invoicing, online buying and spend management. Check it out below

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Neil Robertson

Neil has a 39-year track record of building successful direct and channel global software businesses predominately in the financial software market place. Neil Robertson is Executive Chairman of Compleat Software. A 39-year veteran of the financial software marketplace, Neil has a long track record of building disruptive start-ups into successful businesses, including his time as CEO EMEA of Great Plains where he built the business outside of the USA from 1995 - 2001. Compleat is no exception and perhaps the most disruptive of them all.
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