Why managing accounts payable in the cloud is a cost reduction strategy
Accounting and Accounts Payable teams have traditionally worked in-house, sharing paper files across a combination of systems. However, much of this work can be done remotely, as we saw at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees suddenly had no choice but to work from home, and some businesses and organizations were better equipped than others to handle this change. Those who weren’t prepared struggled to complete invoice approvals and process payments from disparate locations.
Many organizations have invested in technologies that have improved collaboration and communication. But after the first few months, they achieved something interesting: It would be more efficient for all internal parties if this information was managed in the cloud. However, to do this effectively requires the highest levels of security, staff training, and the ability to quickly deal with any issues with remote accounts payable processing. Some employers were forced to send employees to physical offices to complete approvals or produce checks before a viable solution could be found.
The good news is that long-term access point automation technologies enable efficient work in the office or remotely. Whether the pandemic continues or draws to a close, moving AP to the cloud will dramatically increase the efficiency of the accounting department and save money.
Below are tools and tips to help your team effectively add value to your business.
AP is no longer a manual job
Unfortunately, accounts payable have historically been slow to convert to digital records, but the ongoing remote and hybrid work will force teams to let go of their attachment to physical invoices and make the switch. The good news is that digital recordings are easier to use, more secure, and also allow conversion to automated AP processing.
Organize your remote work strategy around the cloud
The cloud should be the foundation of your digital strategy because cloud-based information management services are designed to enable collaboration and secure access from any location.
Be on the lookout for collaboration tools or file sharing apps that don’t prioritize information security because financial records pose a significant risk to your organization if accidentally disclosed.
Follow these steps to find the best cloud service for you
When considering potential cloud information management services, consider the following:
- Choose longevity: Do not accept new cloud services (less than three years old) because they have yet to prove their ability to provide constant uptime or solve your problems. Plus, you don’t want to be trapped by a tech startup with plans for a quick build and sell rather than longer-term business goals.
- Quality of uptime and service both count: Most cloud services offer 99.9% uptime, but the best ones offer at least 99.999% uptime. Take a look at the End User License Agreement (EULA) and service history of any business you are considering to make sure you only talk to those you can count on to always be available to your employees.
- Safety should be a major concern: In today’s age of growing cyber attacks, which have been exacerbated by moving to work from anywhere, you simply cannot ignore your vendor’s security policies. Look for contextual protections, complex password requirements, encryption, and a variety of other application, transmission, data, physical, and system protections.
A few additional features can dramatically improve the ROI you get from your cloud migration. When scanning physical records, look for a technology partner who can automatically “scratch” invoice data as it is scanned to eliminate manual data entry for your team. Finally, only choose a cloud provider with built-in process automation tools, so you can automatically route invoices through approval processes, regardless of where the employees are located.
Industry as a whole is moving to the cloud and the economy is doing better
Cooperative Educational Services (CES) is a procurement agency that provides shared purchasing services to 211 public educational institutions and 250 public entities in New Mexico. They process over 60,000 invoices each year. CES has converted to digital records and developed an electronic procurement process to control the flow of information throughout purchasing and to enable secure invoice review and approval from any location.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CES team has made a smooth transition to working from home due to its cloud-based information management and AP system. Deputy Executive Director Robin Strauser explained that organizations still have to buy and pay, so it is important that the ETUC provides its members with essential products and continues to pay supplier companies without interruption.
Through CES and our own experiences adjusting to working from home during the pandemic, we’ve learned that there are benefits to choosing cloud-based services to support your AP team’s remote efforts. Cloud AP services enable secure access, collaboration, and even automated workflow to streamline your efforts. The goal is simple: become more efficient and save money without sacrificing security and workflow.