The challenge of Accounts Payable automation

Streamline Accounts Payable with an integrated RPA solution

The path to success via efficient Accounts Payable

Optimizing the accounts payable (AP) process has been a difficult and frustrating undertaking for many companies. Despite efforts in process re-engineering and the use of technologies such as ERP, OCR, and EDI document management and e-invoices, fundamental issues remain. Many organizations have decided to simply outsource their AP function and reduce costs through labor arbitrage.

Challenges to efficient and error free Accounts Payable

Non-standard invoicing

The vast majority of invoices (at least in the U.S.) arrive as paper documents, fax documents, or PDF email attachments. Few are alike, so manual handling is tedious. Is it from an approved vendor? Does the PO match the ERP system? The AP staff must find the answers.

Unstructured data

The AP staff also manually transfers data from the various invoice formats into the company’s standard format. This repetitive task is slow and prone to errors. What initially appears to be a series of straightforward AP activities reveals itself to be a complex and inefficient process. Optimizing it would easily translate into a financial and organizational reward.

Discrepancies & approvals

The manual process extends to resolving discrepancies. For example: “Is there a bill of lading for the PO? Does the invoice price match the PO?”. Also, approvals: “Have the required documents been assembled and queued for payment authorisation?”

Annual invoice volume% requiring manual handling

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Robotic automation, structured data, digitisation

There is one financial obstacle to be resolved to accomplish Accounts Payable Automation, and three technology steps need to be taken. The financial obstacle is ROIthe AP area is too small to justify a large-scale software implementation investment.
The technology steps are:
 
1st step: Automation
Software robots must replace manual actions by AP staff.

2nd step: Structured data
The influx of unstructured data must quickly become structured.

3rd step: Digitization
A highly automated flow of structured data between employees, suppliers, and third parties supporting reporting, analytics, and decision-makingmust be established.
 
By taking these 3 steps, a scope of AP work (equivalent to that typically covered by a “Receipt to ERP” BPO outsourcing contract) will be transformed. A company's ERP system seamlessly integrates with automated activity outcomes and data. Furthermore, new capabilities, such as payment reviews and authorizations via mobile devices, will become possible. These 3 steps also provide a solid automation foundation for organizations with a highly manual procure-to-pay process (P2P) cycle, enabling them to reduce costs, improve performance, achieve regulatory compliance and gain real-time visibility into payables status.

The UiPath Accounts Payable Automation Solution

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Automated data capture and data entry

Invoice capture is processed with OCR technology to 95%+ character level accuracy from a scanning device if the invoice is paper-based, or from an electronic file, such as a PDF or email. All document actions are saved in archived log files, providing audit support and reporting for compliance purposes.

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Highly configurable workflow automation rules

The accounts payable automation solution addresses the business logic that is behind complex P2P processes with highly configurable workflow rules. This enables intuitive and effective end-to-end automation for two or three-way document matching, ERP system reconciliations and branching flows for special items such as non-PO invoices.

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Approval and exception resolution

Approval activity is streamlined in the AP solution by rules-based, auto-approved, workflow criteria that limits human involvement to specific approval situations. Exceptions are triggered by data that does not conform to automated workflow criteria for routing, matching and circulation actions. UiPath minimizes exception resolution by following well-defined redistribution rules that are designed to identify and escalate exceptions to the right skill sets. The solution also uses live monitoring to flag exception points for rule reviews and fraud detection.

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Regulatory compliance and governance

The UiPath accounts payable automation solution embeds compliance and governance controls, such as authorised roles and the segregation of duties. In addition, archived log files that document the details of all automation activities minimize the cost and disruption of compliance audits.

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Flexible &
adaptive

The UiPath AP solution delivers flexibility and adaptability benefits. Changes in transaction volumes from growth, acquisition or consolidation are easily accommodated without compromise to performance or accuracy. Real-time performance monitoring and documentation facilitate new analytic or predictive capabilities requirements.

Good preparation is always key to a successful journey.


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Success story

Major car manufacturer proves that automation is less about saving labor costs, and much more about increasing quality and enabling insights through data and analytics.

Read Our Guide

Success story

Major car manufacturer proves that automation is less about saving labor costs, and much more about increasing quality and enabling insights through data and analytics.

Read Our Guide