The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a good time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. What needs improvement? What could we be doing differently?
In that spirit, it’s a good time to think about a recent report from research and advisory firm Levvel, which we sponsored: “Unlocking Invoice Management Efficiency in Microsoft Dynamics 365FO - Exploring Software that Improves User Experience and Productivity for Finance Teams.” The report covers the current state of AP departments using Microsoft Dynamics 365 FO and recommends how they can improve their AP processes.
Some AP departments are still using manual, paper-based processes to handle invoices. In addition to the inefficiencies and costs, it introduces a lot of room for error. Because these departments don’t have visibility into their invoices – which could be lost, missing or buried on someone’s desk – they have no way of knowing their liabilities at any one time, and often end up paying late fees or missing early payment discounts.
Automated invoice processing will address these issues, providing the visibility, control and efficiencies AP departments need, while reducing cost and freeing up AP staff to focus on exceptions and other more value adding tasks. While some organizations turn to MS Dynamics – which provides robust functionality in finance and business operations – it doesn’t offer true vendor invoice automation. AP staff still have to input basic invoice data and manually route them for review and approval.
Achieving true automation
To accomplish true automation, Levvel recommends organizations find a third-party AP solution to eliminate paper and manual processes, and, streamline the workflow. There are three approaches organizations can take: embedded, standalone and extended solutions. Embedded solutions, which are tightly connected to the ERP, provide seamless connection, but at the same time, require users to use a somewhat poor ERP interface. Standalone systems, which provide greater functionality for users, are unfortunately more difficult and time-consuming to integrate with MS Dynamics 365FO. Extended solutions offer the best of both worlds – they seamlessly integrate with the ERP, but at the same time provide extended functionality and a better user experience through web or mobile-based services.
Key features to consider
For organizations ready to improve their operations with an extended AP solution, Levvel suggests they look for the following features:
- Seamless integration with MS Dynamics 365FO
- Features that extend existing functionality as well as offers new capabilities
- Cloud-based functionality, hosted by Azure or other compatible service, to provide scalability, security, and flexibility
- Easy-to-use user interface to improve the user experience. This will promote greater and faster internal adoption and productivity – enabling organizations to gain process improvements more quickly
- Advanced AP functionality, such as OCR and data-capture capabilities, workflow automation, mobile features, and the ability to support and process multiple invoice types, including e-invoices
There’s no time like the beginning of a new year to reflect on ways to improve processes. Levvel’s report provides a roadmap for bringing greater automation into your AP operations, so you can benefit from increased visibility, control and efficiency, and at the same time, reduce costs. No matter where you are in the AP automation journey, you can always bring improvements into your organization. Please let us know how we can help you progress in your journey.