Survey Discussion

Global survey reveals staggering results about AP processes

Paper documents and manual processes are still the norm for the vast majority of AP departments, a global report has found.

The Association of Certified Accounts Payable Professionals (ACAPP) survey reveals that just 5% of businesses are using a fully automated accounts payable approach. The study, sponsored by Webexpenses, found nearly one-in-five (19%) had no automation at all.

The research highlights how invoice management is one of the few remaining areas of business administration where paper-based processes are still used. The findings identify some of the challenges caused by an outdated AP process.

The top two issues that AP teams said they faced were with the handling of paper invoices (38%) and the related task of manually processing the information (28%). More than a third (34%) of respondents said the inefficiency caused stress and a quarter (24%) said it was damaging supplier relations.

Automating the AP process

The results are part of a wide-ranging survey involving more than 200 AP professionals and finance managers from across the globe. Webexpenses CEO Adam Reynolds said:

“It’s 2020 and there’s no good reason why any business should still be having to battle with paper documents and manual AP processes.

“The management of invoices has been transformed by recent advances in OCR technology with all of the benefits that moving to paperless and automated ways of working brings.”

A cloud-based system such as Webexpenses Invoice Processing eliminates 90% of manual AP tasks. Incoming invoices, typically paper documents or email attachments, are automatically scanned, with all of the relevant info captured in a digital format.

Sam Hitchen-Rae, Partnership Director at ACAPP said:

“Analysing the state of AP automation allows companies to benchmark themselves and identify missed opportunities in automation. For a majority of companies, the benefits of automation solutions are not being used and many processes are still manual.

As a company who educates and represents the interests of Accounts Payable and Procure to Pay professionals, ACAPP would like to see more businesses take advantage of automation solutions available, which can allow finance operations professionals more time to focus on complex tasks which require human intervention.”

How businesses can benefit

Reducing process times can deliver significant business savings. The report found that two-thirds (66%) of finance teams are currently having to spend more than five days each month on invoice management.

Despite the benefits of automation, AP teams remain behind the curve when it comes to digital adoption. The research found that over a quarter (25.7%) of respondents predicted it will be up to five years before their department enjoys a fully automated process.

Read the full Automation Trends Report.