Article originally Published in the AFR eEdition
Digital transformation is not a short-term project that business leaders can tick off their corporate bingo card. It is an ongoing initiative of continual improvement that delivers benefits to everyone from a business’ customers through to service delivery and back-office teams.
And while the pace of change might have accelerated – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said three years of digital transformation happened in just three months at the start of the pandemic – digital transformation has been elevated from strategic initiative to strategic imperative as companies navigate a drastically altered business landscape.
Teams are no longer expected to all be in the same office. That means companies that have invested in cloud-based technology and automation solutions have a significant advantage over those that underinvested and continue to be weighed down by traditional paper-based processes.
According to IDC, digital transformation investment is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 15.5 per cent. If you’re not investing, chances are your competitors are moving past you.
Automation makes the most sense when you have a well understood process that is repeatable. A great example of a process like this is accounts payable. The accounts payable process is characterised by large volumes of invoice data, arriving in different formats and through different channels, that must be securely and accurately received, interpreted and entered into financial systems. Often, team members need to print documents to read them easily, adding further cost as well as impacting the environment.
There is a clearly demonstrable ROI in automating accounts payable. It has a pivotal role in the procure-to-pay life cycle. Automation enables finance teams to reduce the cost of processing each invoice, creating a tangible ROI.
As well as increasing efficiency, automation reduces the likelihood of errors and eliminates repetitive and mundane tasks so workers can refocus their efforts on higher value work that can have a transformative impact on the organisation.
Howard Boretsky, the managing director of Xcellerate IT, says: “By digitally transforming their accounts payable departments, businesses can exceed expectations. They can significantly reduce costs, improve relationships with vendors, eliminate dull repetitive work and most importantly, achieve a competitive advantage whilst helping employees do more with less.”
According to the Kofax 2022 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study, a global survey of more than 800 executives, 85 per cent of organisations are focused on accounts payable automation with almost all agreeing that automating business workflows post-pandemic will ensure business continuity, with digitally transformed companies having a competitive advantage. Almost nine in 10 of the executives surveyed said they need to fast-track their end-to-end digital transformation.
Accounts payable data must be securely and accurately received, interpreted and entered into financial systems. Manually performing this process is time-consuming, error prone, costly and lacks visibility. “A misplaced decimal point, incorrect bank details, duplicate invoices or some other undetected error can result in severe consequences. A configurable, accounts payable automation solution to onboard invoices streamlines this chaotic process by automatically capturing, extracting and validating invoice data, and applying workflow business rules for exceptions, before exporting the information straight to your ERP system,” explains Boretsky.
As well as reducing costs, improving efficiency and boosting employee morale by reducing the volume of boring and repetitive work, accounts payable automation supports improved fraud protection, sustainable business practices and increased regulatory compliance.
Regulators across the country are turning their attention to how companies pay their suppliers. State governments are leading the charge with almost every one of them mandating payments to some suppliers within a maximum of 20 calendar days. In NSW, payments up to $10,000 can be paid instantly. The federal Treasury Department has a Payment Times Reporting Scheme that requires large businesses and large government enterprises to report their small business payment terms and times as part of the Payment Times Reporting Bill 2020, which was passed by the federal government last year.
“While realising faster time-to-value and increased competitiveness are critical, the automation solutions we deliver at Xcellerate IT increase business resiliency and mitigate compliance risk,” adds Boretsky.
The key to a successful digital transformation and automation program is not to take an existing process and simply automate that. By looking at the outcome a business wants to achieve, it can create a new process that is designed to be automated rather than shoehorning an old process into an automation tool.
Embarking on an automation project enables enterprises to reinvent the way they work by leveraging the experts in their business and reducing their dependence on legacy processes.
“Xcellerate IT is seeing significant demand and uptake of cloud-based AP automation solutions in every sector we are working in, including local government, higher education, not-for-profit, retail, logistics, federal agencies, aged care and manufacturing,” explains Boretsky.
Accounts payable automation saves time and money, increases efficiency and reduces errors. Replacing paper-intensive and manual invoice processing with a completely digital, automated solution streamlines processes, ensures they are compliant with regulatory obligations and reduces paper waste.
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About Xcellerate IT
With over 22 years of knowledge and experience in Business Process Automation, Xcellerate IT is a leading Australian provider of powerful digital transformation software, providing innovative solutions to transform and automate information intensive business workflow and robotic processes, across both back and front office operations.
We are proud to have completed projects for over 100 Australian customers. These projects have assisted our customers to embrace the future by offering compliant, transparent and structured processes that meet their individual needs. Xcellerate IT's solutions have powered corporations across various industries including manufacturing, finance, local and state government, education, healthcare and a wide range of companies.