Accounts Payable (AP) is one of the most critical functions of any organisation. However, ineffective AP processes can lead to payment delays, reconciliation issues and supply chain difficulties - which costs businesses both money and resources. These common problems can make AP a liability for any business that can’t afford errors or cash flow set backs - especially in a cost-of-living crisis.
The hyperautomation market is predicted to grow to around $26.5 billion USD by 2028. Accounts Payable is one business function where hyperautomation can really produce proven benefits. Deploying AI in Accounts Payable enables businesses to streamline workflows to increase efficiency, reduce overheads and maximise profits. By automating time-consuming manual processes such as data entry and payment processing, AP teams can focus resources on other tasks which drive business growth.
Plus, hyperautomation increases payment accuracy and lessens processing times. The result: reduced costs (with lower cost-per-invoice) without sacrificing quality. Research by IOFM found that companies without automation and the lowest process maturity level paid $6.20 per invoice. By contrast, companies with end-to-end AP automation and the highest level of process maturity paid just $1.45 per invoice.
So, what exactly is hyperautomation, how can it be used in AP, and what can businesses do to get started? In this article, we explore the differences between hyperautomation and traditional automation, help you understand how it can improve the profitability of AP teams, and provide real-life use cases for Accounts Payable. Read on to find out more.
What Is Hyperautomation?
Hyperautomation is the practice of using advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) to automate and simplify complex business processes. It surpasses traditional automation by creating end-to-end solutions that can streamline workflows, increase efficiency and eliminate errors.
Combined, these technologies can automate time-consuming tasks, including data extraction, data processing, decision-making, and communication. This allows organisations to free up their workforce to focus on more critical and value-adding activities, like problem-solving, innovation and customer service.
Hyperautomation helps organisations to accomplish higher productivity, faster turnaround times, and reduced operational costs. It also enables businesses to scale their operations without the need to increase headcount.
How Can Hyperautomation (AI, Machine Learning, RPA) Be Used in Accounts Payable (AP)?
Accounts Payable teams are responsible for business-critical tasks that require a lot of manual effort and time. The average small-to-mid-sized company takes about 25 days to process a single invoice manually from receipt to payment. Hyperautomation can be useful in helping to reduce manual labour and minimise processing times while improving the efficiency and accuracy of AP processes.
Hyperautomation can perform invoice processing by using AI to capture and verify data, and RPA to automate data entry. Vendor onboarding and management can be simplified through the use of Machine Learning (ML) to verify vendor information and ensure regulatory compliance. Then there’s the ability to generate reports and analytics on AP performance, including invoice processing time, payment accuracy, and vendor performance.
In addition, hyperautomation can not only automate AP processes but also add intelligence to them by emulating human actions. Essentially, it provides AP teams with an automated assistant that can independently analyse data and make decisions based on what it finds. This could include things like:
Identifying patterns of behaviour - e.g. flagging that there are always three invoices from one vendor every month, or that certain vendors always send their bills on Thursdays.
Finding relationships between different pieces of information- e.g. if one employee always pays invoices from another employee's department (or vice versa).
Finding trends and anomalies in your data- e.g. if there's a spike in late payments or a sudden drop in revenue after an employee leaves the company.
How Can AI in Accounts Payable Boost Profits?
When it comes to AI in Accounts Payable, one of the biggest benefits is to help reduce costs and increase profits. With fewer overheads to process payments and invoices, businesses can save money. Fewer system errors reduces the need for human intervention; meaning less hours spent fixing problems and more time to focus on business-critical tasks.
Hyperautomation also increases the speed of transactions by automatically generating invoices and simplifying payment processes, meaning that businesses get paid more quickly. AI and Machine Learning can be used to predict cash flow requirements and optimise payment schedules, while RPA can automate the payment approval and execution process.
Incorrect invoices cause 61% of late payments. By improving the accuracy of AP functions, hyperautomation helps businesses have better quality control over everything from invoices through to purchase orders and receipts. Ensuring that accounts are always correct will also boost customer satisfaction levels and increase brand loyalty.Use Cases of Hyperautomation and AI in Accounts Payable.
Here are some examples of how hyperautomation can be used to enhance Accounts Payable functions:
Hyperautomation can be used to extract invoice data from various sources such as emails, PDFs, and physical documents, and automatically populate the relevant fields in an AP system.
Purchase order matching
Businesses can automatically match purchase orders with invoices, ensuring that invoices are paid only for approved purchases.
Hyperautomation can be used to automate the payment processing workflow, from invoice approval to payment execution.
Organisations can use hyperautomation to automate vendor onboarding and management processes, including data collection, validation, and tracking.
Reporting and analytics
Hyperautomation can be used to create reports and provide insights on AP performance. AI and ML can be used to analyse data and identify areas for improvement, while RPA can automate the report generation process.
How To Get Started with Hyperautomation in AP
To get started with hyperautomation in Accounts Payable, follow the below steps:
- Identify the processes that can be automated: Begin by assessing your AP processes and identifying which ones can be automated. Some prime examples could include data entry, invoice processing, reporting, payment processing, and reconciliation.
- Determine the technologies needed: You may need to use AI, RPA, ML, or a combination of these technologies.
- Select the right tools: Once you’ve pinpointed the processes you’d like to automate, it’s time to select the right hyperautomation tools. Some popular tools in this space include Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath. Choose a platform that is compatible with your existing systems and meets your business requirements.
- Develop a plan of action: Plan how you’ll implement the automation solution. The plan should include the timeline, budget, and resources required for the implementation.
- Integrate the solution: Integrate the automation solution with your existing systems, including your accounting software, ERP system and CRM system for end-to-end automation.
- Test and refine: Before rolling out the solution to all users, test it thoroughly to gain visibility of any issues and optimise the automation to improve efficiency and ensure it meets business needs.
- Monitor and maintain: Hyperautomation requires ongoing maintenance to ensure it is working correctly and achieving the desired results. Monitor the performance of the solution regularly, and optimise to improve its performance and reduce errors.
How Tungsten Network Can Help You Achieve Hyperautomation in AP
Achieving automation in Accounts Payable can help you to reduce costs, ensure regulatory compliance, strengthen your supply chain and gain strategic business insights. Schneider Electric partnered with Tungsten Network on its e-invoicing initiative and saved $500,000 in the first year. The global energy company went from using paper for 90% of its invoices to reaching 85% straight-through processing for e-invoicing.
Tungsten Network are experts in delivering true invoice automation. We can support you in meeting your hyperautomation goals to drive speed and increase efficiency across your AP function. From customised system integration to compliance readiness and white-glove supplier onboarding, Tungsten Network can manage every stage of your journey to automation - so you don’t have to.