6 “Must-Haves” in a Procure-to-Pay Workflow Automation Solution
“My management people love it! They like the tracking. They like to be able to see who’s approved it. They like the speed and efficiency of it as well… Nexus is a really great asset to the company.” – Amy Crosby, Accounting Manager, Commerce Real Estate Solution
Automating procure-to-pay workflows accelerates cycle times, reduces late-payment penalties, creates more opportunities for early-payment discounts, and strengthens supplier relationships.
At least in theory.
Those benefits are dependent on the capabilities of the procure-to-pay workflow automation solution you choose.
When you’re investigating which solution is right for your company, there are six “must have” features to look for:
- Purchase order requisition and delivery: If one of the key benefits of workflow automation is eliminating the need for purchasers to print out, complete and physically deliver requisition forms for approval, then the software needs to be able to do that. Look for a solution that allows for completing forms online and digitally routing them to managers, as well as links to supporting data such as the available budget. You also want to make sure purchase requisitions can be routed based on pre-set rules for authorization (e.g. amount of spend) and that on-the-go managers can approve purchase order requisitions via mobile device. Automating this workflow accelerates the purchase approval process while arming managers with the information they need to make informed decisions.
- Electronic invoice portal: Managing multiple invoice submission channels is a big reason that invoice processing is becoming more complex for most accounts payable departments. Therefore, it is important that the automation solution streamlines invoice submission workflows by providing suppliers with a self-service portal for submitting invoices and other payables documents. This feature should aggregate invoices submitted via different channels and automate the approval workflow, regardless of the invoice type.
- Invoice approval: The ability to notify stakeholders electronically at each step along the invoice approval process increases the efficiency of your automated system. Digitizing invoice approvals eliminates the chance of lost or misfiled invoices, or of invoices becoming “stuck” on the desk of an approver who is out of the office. The software should also allow stakeholders to approve invoices via a smartphone or tablet.
- Invoice exceptions: Eliminating the back-and-forth e-mails and phone calls that are required to resolve invoice exceptions in a paper-based accounts payable environment also increases efficiency. The Procure-to-pay solution should digitally route invoice exceptions to individuals or business units based on pre-configured rules and/or the nature of the exception. With this feature, your workflow automation software will also facilitate collaboration between internal stakeholders and suppliers to resolve exceptions.
- Dashboards: Visual dashboards provide a snapshot of business processes, no matter where they occur. The dashboard feature of your automation solution will provide real-time insights into the status of invoices and payments. This enhanced visibility into daily workflows enables leaders to monitor staff performance, identify bottlenecks more quickly, proactively balance work across staff and even locations, and generate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Can you process invoices without it? Of course. But that visual snapshot has far reaching impact on the business.
- Control: Finally, your solution needs to provide control. Look for a workflow automation software that enables accounts payable departments to track documents, provides complete audit trails of any changes, guarantees routing of documents to the appropriate individuals, has user- and role-based access to invoices and payables information, and automates document retention. All of these things strengthen the control over accounts payable departments have over the invoice process.
If a procure-to-pay workflow automation solution doesn’t have all of these features, it will still save time over manual invoicing, but it won’t help your business fully optimize the procure-to-pay process.
To learn more about Nexus’ procure-to-pay workflow automation software and solutions, contact us today.