Improving purchasing & accounts payable for everyone
January 16, 2023

For most people outside finance, purchasing (especially if there is a formal order process in place) & invoice approvals are, at best, a necessary evil. The more bureaucratic the process, the more it is disliked.

As for finance, they are trapped between a rock & a hard place; running their monthly marathon of capturing & processing all orders & invoices to deliver timely month-end reporting, statutory returns & supplier payments (all whilst constantly fielding calls from both staff & suppliers on the status of everything). 

There is also the challenge of maintaining financial control over what is being bought & correctly accounting for it. This also needs to be balanced against the level of bureaucracy required to achieve it, ultimately to satisfy the auditors & protect against fraud. The more robust the processes, however, the more time-consuming the bureaucracy.

But at the end of the day, almost every accounts payable department functions successfully within their defined parameters of what “success” is.

So how do you improve the purchasing & accounts payable process?

Let’s start by redefining what purchasing & accounts payable “success” could, & arguably should, look like:

Make life much easier for everyone outside finance

  1. Ensure purchases are so simple & convenient that everyone involved welcomes the change
  2. Make it incredibly easy for everyone to get “best value” on their purchases
  3. Allow them to track the progress of an order from creation to approval
  4. Enable a straightforward invoice review & approval process
  5. Undertake all of the above from any device
  6. As a result – save a huge amount of time so that everyone can focus on what matters to them

Make life much easier for finance

  1. Ensure every purchase has the appropriate level of approval before it is sent to the supplier
  2. Have everyone using the preferred suppliers every time
  3. Automate common GL coding wherever possible, & make it very simple & fast when human intervention is required
  4. Never touch an invoice, (they just arrive automatically)
  5. Take comfort in the fact that every invoice is automatically checked against the order value to highlight exceptions
  6. Identify every duplicate invoice & stop duplicate payments
  7. Route every invoice through the correct approval process every time
  8. Answer every query from suppliers in moments, because you can see the status of every order & every invoice, including queries, wherever you may be
  9. Stop most of the staff queries, because they can see the same information on their suppliers & answer the question themselves
  10. Remove the time to post the invoice to your accounting software & the time to file it
  11. Take comfort in a comprehensive & complete audit trail of every step for every invoice

So how can you achieve this & improve the purchasing & accounts payable process?

The answer may surprise you –  as almost all of us are already doing it – because it is so convenient.

Just buy everything online.

You enable your staff to buy everything they need from Amazon Business (& other online supplier websites) by implementing purchase order automation & accounts payable automation.

To head off the usual immediate responses of  “too hard, too much time, too expensive, other more important priorities, no need to change” & so forth, here are some facts:

  • with the right purchase order automation & accounts payable automation solution, most businesses can be live in just a day or two, 
  • it costs less per month than it costs for around four hours work from a junior member of staff,
  • once up & running, it is simple & easy to use for everyone involved 
  • the productivity gains will enable staff to do what they do much faster, enabling them to focus on important priorities sooner 

In terms of Amazon Business pricing, it is an extremely competitive marketplace with thousands of vendors fighting for your business, all of whom are measured on the quality of their products, services & value for money. Most businesses will save at least 10% overall on their spend, even if a few things may be a little more than elsewhere. This usually means there is more money in your bank account after automation because the savings more than cover the costs.

All that is left is your other suppliers & that can be fully automated, too.

Purchasing & accounts payable automation – including online buying

In today’s uncertain world, every business needs to take control over spend before it happens, reduce costs by paying less on what they must buy & increase productivity to achieve more with less. Cashflow is King.

Can you think of a faster, better, lower cost & more effective way to achieve these key objectives & improve your purchasing & accounts payable process?

Looking to purchase an AP automation solution but don’t know what key criteria to focus on? Our buyer’s guide covers everything you need to know.