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Financial Process Automation

5 Signs It’s Time for SaaS-Based APIA

Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement in invoice processing. In a survey conducted by PayStream Advisors, 63% of respondents said their top invoice management pain point is “manual data entry and inefficient processes.” 

The good news is automation provides relief for overburdened AP teams. By replacing manual work with software that performs consistently, enterprises vastly improve their invoice management. Processes become faster, more accurate and achieve overall better outcomes.

Even though these are all good reasons to automate, it’s often hard to know where to start. How do you know when it’s time to adopt new processes? And what’s the best solution for your business? Fortunately, the signs you need to automate are usually obvious and illuminate the benefits of AP invoice automation delivered via software-as-a-service. Here’s what to look for.

1. Your error rate is too high

Manual processes are a problem not only because they take longer to complete, but also because they’re more prone to error. Humans tend to make mistakes, especially when performing repetitive tasks, such as data entry. These lapses often result in more lost invoices, more discrepancies and more exceptions, all of which lead to greater inefficiency.

But when organizations replace manual processes with SaaS-based APIA, they eliminate errors, reduce discrepancies and make it much less likely that invoices will get lost or mishandled. Another benefit: everyone throughout the organization, no matter where they’re located, has access to the same data and information.

2. You’re paying more for inefficiency

Another problem: Manual processes take longer and cost more. Both labor and hardware are expensive to maintain when humans are responsible for handling invoices. And if your organization is spread across several regions or cities, the cost and time to process multiply with each site.  

A SaaS solution saves valuable budget by reducing the need to invest in hardware or software. Since invoices are handled electronically and are stored in the cloud, there’s no need to pay for physical storage. And with automation, the cost-per-invoice drops. SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted from an operational perspective. The SaaS model allows for the shifting of expenditures because items that may normally be obtained as a capital expenditure can have its cost reassigned as an operating expense. This can assist a company’s cash flow and allow the business to avoid making the whole purchase in a single year.

3. You can’t keep up with change

Businesses are in a constant state of change. As your vendors update their own processes, you’re pressed to adapt too. But manual processes aren’t as quick to adapt to new formats and standards. 

Organizations benefit from SaaS-based APIA because it gives them the ability to respond quickly to change. Another significant advantage: you’ll always be up to date on the latest security and functionality enhancements. Most importantly, you won’t be left behind as your competitors and vendors modernize. According to Gartner, cloud will become the dominant deployment model across all areas of financial management applications by 2025. 

4. You’re losing out on supplier discounts

There are numerous risks and costs associated with a longer lifespan of an invoice. Traditional, manual AP invoicing often requires several employees for review and approval. Sometimes, invoices get lost or overlooked. These delays extend the processing cycles and make it harder for your organization to take advantage of supplier discounts. 

But automating the workflow streamlines the process, reduces the time to payment and increases visibility and accountability. As a result, you pay fewer penalties and enjoy more vendor discounts.

5. Your IT team doesn’t have time for you

An in-house AP solution requires regular maintenance and a skilled IT team that’s able to troubleshoot problems. But if your IT team is already stretched thin, invoice processing could be put on hold for hours or even days until they’re able to help.

With a SaaS-based APIA solution, though, you’ll rely less on IT. The self-service interface doesn’t require IT specialists to implement and maintain, and the software automatically updates on every device, so you always have access to the latest version.

Do you recognize one or more of these warning signs in your AP invoicing? If so, it’s time to automate and it’s likely that SaaS-based APIA will fit the bill. Don’t remain saddled with legacy processes that slow you down and cost you more. The combination of automation and cloud will help you stay current and be more competitive.

Learn more about SaaS-based APIA with "Essential Guide to Accelerating Invoice Processing"

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