While many accounts payable teams have understood the time and cost-saving benefits of AP automation and payments solutions, they haven’t necessarily factored in the “human” side of digitizing invoices and payments.
Recent data from Nexus, a Bottomline company, shows if you're not factoring in the people, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. According to an August 2022 survey of Nexus AP automation and payments software users - along with many comments I have heard from customers over the last 18 months - automation technology helps the following three critical workforce factors:
- Increase job satisfaction
- Enable remote work
- Bolster recruiting efforts
These indirect – and more human - benefits are critical in today’s workplace. Whether you think a recession is looming or not, the demand for accounting and finance professionals remains strong. According to a September 2022 report from Randstad USA: "Today's labor market may be in flux, but we know that high-skilled professionals in specialized finance and accounting positions will always be in demand by companies in all industries, no matter the economic context," said Dominic Levesque, President, Tatum, and Randstad Office Professionals.
So, I encourage companies to consider AP automation and payments holistically, as these tools will absolutely assist their AP teams, beyond the numbers.
AP Automation Increases Job Satisfaction
Employees are used to paying their bills and managing their finances online. They don’t want to step back in time – or be forced back into the office - to manage their budgets, invoices, approvals, and payments on paper and spreadsheets.
The poll of CFOs, Controllers, and AP managers who use Nexus software to pay their vendors provided evidence of this.
- 87% said NexusPayments increases their team’s job satisfaction because they don’t have to manually cut as many paper checks and instead can manage the vendor payments process online
- More than 85% said NexusPayments has enabled their team to do some or all their work remotely
- And, in a promising development, survey respondents also noted that Nexus could help them with recruiting talent. 43% said they see NexusPayments as a tool to attract AP talent now or in the future.
Taken all together, automating invoices and payments makes a true contribution to employee satisfaction.
Time Savings Are Real and Significant
Fueling this increase in job satisfaction is the elimination of time spent processing invoices and payments by hand. Nexus has found that multifamily, mixed-use, retail, and commercial customers have at least one full-time employee to pay their 100s or 1,000s of vendors each month. When performed manually, these check runs can take a day or more to complete.
When these customers digitize their payments, they simply send a file of ready-to-pay invoices to the Nexus payments software. Nexus then automatically debits their associated bank accounts and pays the vendors with secure electronic payment methods. Since everything is done online, these real-estate companies spend 50% less time on managing their payments. They also shave off 40% of their costs because they don’t have to buy ink, toner, printers, etc. for checks.
Less time on processing payments
Reduction in cost of processing payments
Paymode-X, our Bottomline sibling, which provides payment automation for all other industries, has similar findings. It found that 4 out of 10 customers decreased AP processing time by more than 50%.
Shift to More Meaningful Projects
Based on my conversations with Nexus customers, many say they use their “won-back time” on a variety of projects that have larger impacts to the business, including improving vendor relationships and negotiating better rates; providing more insight into overall business spending and performance and finding extra working capital.
As Sue Roberts, AP manager for Habitat America and Nexus customer, put it: “NexusPayments has given time back to me, my team, and my department. We’re more efficient and effective in our daily, weekly, and monthly duties. The software has allowed us to reevaluate how we do other things in our department and enabled us to take on more duties and do them better.”
Keeping Employees Happy with AP Automation
While I’ve long touted the advantages of automating payments and accounts payable, this data exemplifies how AP automation has a wider impact on the satisfaction of the AP team, not just their productivity. And, considering the competition for labor and how imperative it is to keep personnel, these “human” variables truly extend the value of digitally transforming AP.
*The Nexus Survey was conducted through a popup in the NexusPayments software and received 87 responses.