How to manage your accounts payable remotely with digital invoice approval workflow

With the current interruption to business operations, your staff members are likely working remotely. Leveraging technology is now pivotal to business sustainability throughout this period of uncertainty. Businesses have had to adapt fast to overcome the disruption and keep operations moving. Moving operations to make them digital has helped many businesses stay productive. However, one of the key areas businesses may be struggling with is managing accounts payable (AP).

AP processes, like invoice approval, typically involve a physical signature before the invoice can be paid. When everyone is working remotely, getting those signatures can be challenging. If your processes are manual, you may be printing invoices, signing them, then scanning them back in and emailing them to the next person in the workflow for payment.

This is time consuming and can affect your productivity. However, approval procedures are a part of the chain of responsibility. These procedures are in place to ensure that invoice details are correct before payment is made. Without this process, you could lose money to scammers, overpay or underpay suppliers, or miss payments and incur penalty fees.

A digital invoice approval workflow streamlines the approvals process and lets you manage accurate approvals remotely. This process automates manual and repetitive tasks involved in the approval process, such as data entry and cross-referencing information, and confirms the invoice is clear to be paid.

There are three key features of a digital invoice approval workflow that can benefit your business as it operates remotely:

1. Accessibility from everywhere

Being able to access invoices, files and data, current or previous, while working from home or remotely is key to keeping this part of the business running. Having to wait to be granted access or for information to be sent across from others can make invoice approval a long, drawn-out process, which isn’t helpful to the business or your productivity.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI) and metadata

By adding metadata to files and invoices, this can link together relationships like customers, projects and cases, making it easier to confirm if the invoice is correct and legitimate. A strong AI tool can automatically detect links and even suggest relationships between files using this metadata. You can even set rules to automatically match PO’s to invoices. In turn, these tools speed up the approval process without having to wait on confirmation from employees or project managers. 

3. Invoice tracking and visibility

Working remotely can mean that some tasks slip through the cracks or are forgotten about, as there isn’t someone in front of you as a reminder. Executives and managers must oversee teams from a distance, while maintaining their own work. An invoice approval workflow can track the progress of invoices, keeping a record of the approval trail and sending notifications and reminders of actions that need to be done.  This also provides the ability to see the exact status of any invoice in the system and report by invoice status.

Although companies are facing an uncertain time, it’s important to adapt so you can minimise interruption to the business. An automated invoice approval workflow will keep the processes moving. By incorporating technology that facilitates remote working and accessibility, you can ensure your business is prepared not just for the current challenges it faces, but also for the future.

To find out more about how a digital invoice approval workflow can improve your business’s accounts payable processes while working remotely, contact Upstream today.