Spend Management Meets AP Automation
Controlling spend from beginning to endAs reported in an article published by Top Sage Resellers, Sage recently conducted a survey of customers that identified accounts payable (AP) automation as the most requested new functionality. This is big news in the ERP world, where we’ve historically seen more technology investments occurring on the revenue-generating side of operations. What is AP automation – and is it all it’s cracked to be?
What AP automation is – and what it isn’t
AP automation is a broad term that refers to the automation of the processes surrounding entering, approving and paying invoices, to reduce paper and postage costs and streamline invoice handling. Document imaging capabilities are often associated with AP automation solutions, as are workflow automation and electronic payments. Whenever companies can automate routine processes, they can gain efficiencies, reduce overhead and improve accuracy. All good things to be sure.
But AP automation only kicks in when an invoice is received – leaving the larger purchasing process unaddressed. To reap the benefits of AP automation, it is best combined with a larger spend management initiative.
Spend management is about controlling the spend before it happens
Spend Management is an overarching process that brings all corporate spending under control or management, and typically encompasses processes such as outsourcing, procurement, e-procurement, procure-to-pay and supply chain management.
Spend management happens long before the invoice ever exists. Once a purchase has been approved, AP automation comes into play, but there is much activity – and opportunity to improve – that happens earlier.
Key components of spend management that aren’t typically addressed by AP automation include: