The core function of the Accounts Payable (AP) department in a company is to sustain a healthy cash flow for the business. However this goal is inherently intertwined with other responsibilities like the maintenance of good relationships with purchasing and procurement teams, vendors and suppliers, as well as the routine completion of financial documentation.
Most companies still rely on paperwork-heavy practices to manage short term liabilities under the AP umbrella, such as payments for goods and services, employee expense claims and other short-term loans. Such antiquated practices are not only time and labor intensive, they also set the premise for instances of human error and internal fraud. Hence, the adoption of AP Automation technologies is inarguably a necessary step for any organization aiming to optimize its operational effectiveness and efficiency.
What is AP Automation?
AP Automation refers to the digitalization of workflows comprising the range of routine and often tedious steps that make up the AP process. The majority of legacy point solutions still necessitate manual intervention at various stages of the AP process, such as when performing the initial extraction and entry of data points, the intermittent reviewing of documents, and execution of approval workflows. However, current market-leading end-to-end AP automation products with Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) capabilities augmented with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology such as bluesheets eliminate this requirement, making the AP process entirely hands-free.
With invoices, claims, vendor bills and countless other physical and digital documents, the process of manually extracting data is extremely time and labor intensive. Furthermore, considering the accuracy and precision necessary in the treatment of financial data, there is a high probability of mistakes stemming from human error or negligence. This also prevents employees from spending their time on more high-value tasks like fulfilling advisorial and analytical duties, and by and large optimizing the value they could bring to the company.
AP documentation, notably in sizable businesses often requires the attention and approval of multiple departments, and perhaps even multiple layers of management. Manual processes involving either physical or digitized documents being channeled from one department to another can not only be cumbersome and taxing in execution, but also inevitably lead to unfavorably lengthy approval timeframes. This may not only be detrimental to internal and external business relationships, but also lead to tangible costs like late-payment fees and delayed shipments of goods and services.
In today’s saturated digital ecosystem, it is commonplace for different vendors and partners even within the same industry to have varied preferences for invoice content, formats and platforms. This further problematizes the tedium of manually extracting data from invoices for operational or reporting purposes.
AP departments are traditionally required to manually match corresponding purchase orders, invoices and receiving documents in order to facilitate the proper payment of invoices. Discrepancies that arise from erroneous matching of documents are not only time and resource consuming to resolve, but may also cause delays in payment and be detrimental to a company’s overall occupational efficiency.
The bluesheets solution
Employing a combination of machine learning and machine reasoning models, paired with industry-leading Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques, bluesheets’ proprietary technology entirely automates the process of data extraction with market-leading accuracy, applicable across digital, printed and handwritten documents. This of course entirely eliminates the need for manual data entry. From the initial uploading of invoices, to the extraction of relevant data points necessary for AP processing and reporting, the entire import process is seamlessly automated, with source data consistently transparent and accessible to all departments involved.
With a simple one-time setup of rules within the bluesheets system, the solution tackles the issue of varying formats and channels used to distribute and process invoices across between businesses. The manual extraction of relevant data points and the subsequent sorting of relevant information into the corresponding entries is an arduous task if done manually as was traditionally the case. However, the interpretation and subsequent categorization of unstructured data is now a completely hands-free procedure, no longer requiring any particular attention and effort from the AP department.
AI-powered IDP capabilities enable software like bluesheets to eradicate the need for manual matching of documents, digital or otherwise, between invoices, purchase orders and their corresponding receiving documents. Instead, the system automatically conducts a relational search to match the data extracted by the aforementioned OCR and NLP technologies, consolidating the complementary documents for validation.
Displacing the manual transfer of documents from one department to another, bluesheets’ Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) systems optimize collaborative efforts by allowing all data to be accessible from one consolidated dashboard. Reminders can also easily be set to alert respective parties at specific points in the process when their attention is required. Furthermore, specific rules or exceptions can also be assigned and applied to particular categories or values warranting unique treatment.
To learn more about how bluesheets can help you automate your end-to-end AP workflow, click here to schedule a demo with one of our data automation specialists now.
Bluesheets is a Singapore-based technology company that ingeniously delivers a holistic and intelligent commercial perspective for Financial and Insurance Service Firms so that you can move complex industry data sets into a simple, clear and automated journey.
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