Paying an invoice is more expensive than you might think.
In addition to the invoice price itself, there’s the processing cost—and that varies widely from one Accounts Payable (AP) department to the next. In 2018, the least efficient AP departments spent $10 or more to process an invoice. More streamlined operators spent closer to $2 per invoice, an 80% improvement.
So what’s the difference between the top and the bottom of the AP performers? Often, it is digital infrastructure, including automated invoice processing systems. The fact is, many AP departments overspend on labor—a factor that makes up more than 60% of total AP costs, according to the American Productivity & Quality Center.
Meanwhile, Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—which uses digital “bots” to complete repetitive, data-driven tasks through your existing software systems—can process invoices faster, more accurately, and at a lower cost. Many industries—including banking and financial services—rely on RPA to automate a wide variety of tasks, including invoice processing. This form of automation also frees human staff from necessary but tedious work, allowing them to focus on higher-value operations.
One leading manufacturer automated invoice processing from start to finish with AI-enhanced RPA. They saw powerful benefits, including:
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This example isn’t uncommon. According to an Accenture survey, 82% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) report measurable returns on investments in digital finance tools like RPA.
But how do RPA bots process invoices? There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; RPA adapts to fit every user’s unique processes. That said, here’s a general model of invoice processing using RPA—and the related technologies that lead to even greater benefits.
To understand RPA, start with a close look at the software bot: This isn’t a physical robot, but a digital application that operates existing systems through their user interfaces, almost like a human worker. That makes RPA faster and cheaper to implement than hard-coded software integrations; RPA doesn’t require APIs or programming, so it has a small IT footprint.
To process an invoice, an RPA bot will typically take the following steps:
To fully automate invoice processing using RPA, these bots can’t exist in a vacuum. They must fit into broader workflows, which requires an automation platform with a strong core of Business Process Management (BPM). To automate more complex tasks within your invoice processing workflows—and to improve performance over time—bots also need AI components like Machine Learning (ML) and NLP.
The Nividous platform combines all these capabilities into a complete end-to-end automation solution—a higher tier of enterprise technology called intelligent automation, or hyperautomation. While RPA is an important component in end-to-end business process automation, BPM and AI are also crucial if you want to fully automate invoice processing. Doing so could revolutionize your AP department, with wide-ranging benefits from lower costs to better regulatory compliance.