Though the idea of accounts receivable automation is nothing new, its increase in popularity in recent years and in particular in 2016, is due in no small part to the technological growth and proliferation of automation solutions and financial tech providers available today.
These things have not only helped to drive greater efficiencies and cost reductions for businesses and accounting firms, who are now realizing the value of an optimized accounts receivable process, but it’s also helping businesses carve out brand new strategies for growth and increased revenue, making the future of A/R automation very bright indeed.
Fear of change
Still, while accountants everywhere finally agree that they see the need for accounts receivable automation, many are still dragging their feet in making the actual switch from their tried and true manual processes to a more efficient automated solution. The main stumbling block—is fear.
But many of those fears expressed by accounting professionals and other A/R decision-makers appear to be primarily based on misconception and not fact. Many fear a loss of control of the process and, by extension, a lack of control over outcomes like their individual and departmental goals. Others fear the complexities and expense of implementing such a system (both in software and training). While some others still are wary of customer reactions. And then, some doubt the security of the cloud.
The truth is—all of these fears are understandable—though based on some faulty assumptions and common misconceptions. In fact, the data shows that companies can actually gain greater control and improve customer satisfaction (all while realizing significant reductions in DSOs, past-due receivables, and bad-debt reserves) all while experiencing a positive ROI in as little as a few months.
Automation: The future of financial transactions
That’s because automation isn’t about replacing personnel with software or eliminating service; it’s about working smarter and more efficiently, rather than harder to achieve your A/R goals and all while retaining or even improving customer communication and satisfaction.
Automation takes care of your menial recurring tasks and can help you to better track the process every step of the way, freeing up staff for more complex transactions or helping resolve customer questions or issues. Accounts receivable automation allows your company to:
- Increase cash flow
- Access documents and reports from anywhere
- Simplify reconciliation
- Experience more efficient deduction management
In addition to these efficiencies, 2017 is promising to bring even more folks on board, due to the convenience of cloud-based solutions and the ease with which employees can send e-invoices and receive electronic payments, as well as those who are inspired by the variety of financing options and mobile applications and the ability for even greater amounts of data and analytics to propel their businesses forward.
A/R automation trends to watch for
Some of the biggest impacts made on the realm of accounts receivable automation in 2016 (increased data insights, greater efficiencies, and financial technology innovations) are expected to continue to influence automation trends throughout 2017 including:
Already popular, cloud services will only continue to gain momentum and are expected to dominate by the end of 2017.
E-invoices are expected to go next level with “Smart” invoicing. Think of it as e-invoicing on steroids, moving beyond paper scanning to complete paperless processing. Your electronically generated invoices undergo an automated validation process once your suppliers submit. This improves accuracy and reduces errors—ensuring only correct, approved invoices reach accounts payable.
You can also expect to see a greater variety of mobile solutions including integrated payables and anywhere you are invoice approvals, as well as newer more agile reporting dashboards to help you pull and analyze all the real-time data you’ll be gathering.
With all that’s in store for us in 2017, it’s a “when” rather than an “if” proposition when it comes to making the transition to A/R automation—and it looks like the time is now. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can automate your AR processes, please contact us to schedule a demo of Centreviews Business Intelligence Suite.