4 ways to capitalize on your accounting IT investment

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When there are inefficiencies in accounting, you have been trained to think: automation. The concept isn’t new. But for financial executives, the fact that you’ve automated a department isn’t enough – it’s the realized benefits and return on investment that truly count. So when you are considering automation, don’t just implement – capitalize.

As they adopt accounting automation solutions, CFOs should consider these four things to make sure they are maximizing their return on investment.

1. Capitalize on faster processes

Tech-savvy CFOs know that by digitizing invoice processing, they save time and money. However, only 29 percent of organizations take advantage of early-payment discounts. This is crucial.

By speeding invoice cycle time with automation, you gain the ability to negotiate deals with your vendors. Proposing to pay invoices early in exchange for a discount is an offer many suppliers will take you up on. Even 1 or 2 percent adds up, if it’s a third of your spend.

In AR, when automating payment processing, it is critical to think of the end-game. As information is captured from payment documents, that information needs to be validated before getting posted to your ERP or accounting systems—remittance line-items need to be balanced, remittance totals need to be validated against check totals and all of that information needs to be matched to open invoices.

Not only is it critical for data to be accurate in the ERP or accounting systems – it is also important to reconcile payments without slowing deposits. Beyond capturing and validating remittance and check information automatically, consider using a single solution robust enough to create image cash letters to facilitate fast, electronic deposits – ultimately speeding cash flow.

2. Capitalize on instant information

From visibility into cash flow to better customer service, instant access to up-to-date information is critical. The right accounting automation solution takes information confined to physical and electronic documents and validates and shares it with your other systems, without human intervention. Not only does this speed the process and reduce human error – it brings accurate information to accounting staff the minute they need it.

By running reports or creating graphical dashboards on this information, you gain real-time insight into cash flow. You can also empower your staff with access to related documentation, such as invoices, payment documents and contracts, directly from your ERP or other accounting systems. The moment a customer or vendor calls, staff have access to all the information they require without needing to jump between systems to improve service and customer satisfaction.

3. Capitalize on scalable processes to reduce labor costs

Accounting automation reduces manual work, allowing your staff to process more documents daily, speed exception handling and quickly and effectively manage vendor and customer requests or disputes. As manual work is reduced, leverage those employees to work on more important tasks or move them to other roles in the department to bring higher value to the organization. As these solutions continue to automate your processes, even with increases in document volumes, this allows you to reduce hiring needs and keep those overtime costs low.

4. Capitalize on scalable solutions to truly transform Accounting

When looking into automation in accounting, the way to realize the greatest ROI is to find a solution that can transform not one, but many processes across the department. From vendor invoice processing, to order processing, billing, and customer payment processing – even tackling the financial close – there are many processes across accounting that can benefit from automation and digitization.

Not only does finding a single solution that transforms all of these accounting processes take the burden off of employees to learn different systems, it also makes it much easier for IT to maintain. Less training for employees, less burden on IT, but increased efficiency across accounting processes means greater return on your technology investment.

(This blog post was originally published in the AP & AR Automation Executive Report.)

Tim Nero

Tim Nero is director of Back Office Solutions at Hyland.

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