Why you should use accounts receivable automation to benefit your business, employees and customers
Your accounts receivable team represents a vital part of your organization, responsible for issuing invoices, billing customers in a timely fashion, processing payments, and providing a consistent cash flow to your business.
But failure to maintain efficient accounts receivable processes can negatively impact your company’s finances, whether it’s forecasting budget, hitting revenue and profit goals, or overall scaling and growth.
The challenge that many companies face is that accounts receivable requires multiple moving parts—much of which requires a ton of manual paperwork—including the creation of documents, pulling data, gathering signatures and sign-offs, and communicating for quick turnarounds between your team, customers, and any number of other stakeholders.
Running this process end to end manually can cause any number of problems, like lag time, bottlenecks, failed communication, and data errors—not to mention excess stress and pressure on your team that can lead to future mistakes.
Automating your finance department’s workflows with accounts receivable automation can immeasurably support the digital transformation of your business, and many of your processes can be improved by the benefits of automation. Let’s explore a few.
Better accounts receivable process automation
The accounts receivable process has many steps and requires multiple stakeholder sign-offs, from creating and issuing the invoice, the customer receiving and approving it and sending payment, and your team processing that payment in your accounting system. In a perfect world, this process could be done in a single day, or even just a few hours.
But for anyone who’s worked in an office environment, processes like these are prone to all kinds of delays, which prevent you from getting paid faster. Incorrect invoice amounts, long to-do lists pushing the invoice to the bottom of an employee’s inbox, or approval getting lost in the shuffle are just a few of the issues causing lag time and errors, delays in your business processes, which ultimately affect your company’s cash flow.
With accounts receivable automation, an invoice can be created accurately and sent to the customer digitally and automatically. If there are delays in approval, you can automate reminders and follow-up communication, remove much of the lag time and ensure you’re getting paid the correct amount in a timely manner.
Benefits of AR Automation
Streamline invoice creation, get paid faster
Processing an invoice requires pulling work order data from a system and entering it manually into a Word doc or PDF, attaching it to an email and sending it to your customer. Then, your customer has to review it, approve it, and send your company payment. These tedious tasks are ripe for data entry error, disorganization, or other common mistakes that can create a huge headache for your team.
Just think about the delayed communication, delay in sign-off, and the many other ways in which a simple task like invoice approval can fail to be completed when you need it.
Automating the creation of invoices and getting them in the hands of the right person at the right time mitigates many of these errors, makes your work more efficient, and enables your team to communicate better with your customers. With much of this work transferred to a digital process through automation, your accounts receivable team can get paid faster, which enables them to focus on the higher-level finance work like planning and strategy that sets your company up for success.
Accounts receivable workflow automation reduces costs
As each industry’s market landscape becomes more competitive—with the volume of competitors growing by the day and a greater consumer demand driving higher expectations from their service providers—cost-cutting has become an important part of your company’s operations. Time-consuming, multi-step workflows with multiple employees involved like invoice processing and payment approval can be a drain on your team’s resources.
With a manual process, just think about the costly paperwork involved, frustrating copying, email and faxing, as well as the wasted employee time better suited for other things. Accounts receivable automation can streamline those clunky tasks, reduce the time and effort focused on inefficient work, minimize mistakes, and allow your team to reinvest that savings into more meaningful work.
Also, as you look to scale your automation efforts department-wide, and eventually company-wide, using an automation service provider that’s a good fit for your business can offer a pricing model that essentially pays for itself.
For example, initiatives like RPA are incredibly expensive as they charge per bot, and become even more expensive as you attempt to scale. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions enable you to implement a single process automation that saves you enough money that you can then invest across your entire department. Likewise, the money savings in automating your department can be used to automate the entire enterprise.
As your business’s investment is validated by the time and money savings during the entire automation path, the ROI is realized every step of the way.
Streamlined customer experience
As competition grows, your customers have more options and therefore demand a much higher level of customer service. To that end, you should position your company as a partner, not just as a service provider. Your customers’ success equals your company’s success, and vice versa. Communicating with your customers transparently should be a key part of your customer success strategy. This includes pricing, payment and approval timelines, transaction expectations, and a direct line to your customer service and customer success teams.
Streamlining your payment processes with automation can not only help you manage your own finances better, but can also help your customers manage their finances as well. This supports your overall customer service efforts, helps them gain greater trust in your services, and supports your customer retention and growth.
Better employee retention in your finance team
When thinking about accounts receivable processes, your company is likely focused heavily on priorities like successful payments, revenue growth, and cash flow, etc. Though this should be any business’ main focus, your finance team’s job satisfaction and bandwidth to perform well should be another key priority that often falls to the wayside.
Overworked, stressed-out employees who spend the majority of their time creating documents, sending emails, tracking down customers, and fixing mistakes, are likely not living up to their career potential, and may not feel satisfied in their role. This is another factor that can lead to errors, omissions, and missed hand-offs from colleague to colleague, or company to customer.
Automation in the accounts receivable space can benefit your employees just as much as they benefit your processes and your customers. With the constant, tedious workload automated and removed from your employees’ plates, they can better digitize other processes, feel a greater sense of career satisfaction, and better strategize around your business’s future.