Before Microsoft released the first version of its Excel spreadsheet software, accountants and bookkeepers were trapped in a time-consuming routine of tedious tasks.
Recording revenue and expenses meant manually entering figures in paper ledgers. If one or more entries had to be updated or corrected, it meant erasing and recalculating everything on the page. Every. Single. Time.
Before long, Excel became a trusted tool for accountants, taking out much of the prior tedium in keeping tabs on financial data. But nearly 40 years since its debut, the spreadsheet has become as outdated and inefficient as the pencil-and-paper approach it replaced.
Exposing the Limitations of Excel
The advent of accounting automation software has exposed the many limitations that Excel has as a tool for managing and visualizing financial information in an era when timely data gathering and integration are essential for controlling costs and maximizing growth.
As transaction volumes grow and processes become increasingly complex, relying on manual spreadsheets can lead to a host of challenges and open your business to costly errors.
AP automation gives you exponentially more control over your data across software platforms, real-time visibility on transactions and instantly updated account balances, among many other advantages.
Here’s how automating AP can free you from "Excel Hell" and help your accounting department operate more efficiently and effectively.
Automatic Data Capture
Manually entering or importing vendor invoice data into Excel or a similar spreadsheet software and then updating it constantly as new data comes in amounts to a thankless chore when there is an easy way to do it automatically.
Accounting automation software allows you to accurately capture all of the transaction data from the moment an invoice is generated. It automatically tracks data from revenue, expenses, bank accounts and other sources.
No more keying in every line of information in a vendor invoice by hand, which helps free up accounting department staff to take on more important tasks.
Excel functions as a repository of financial data well enough. It lets you embed simple formulas to process numerical data or sort other values. Early on, this can make you feel like you have a good grasp of your financial data.
However, as a company grows, so does the volume of data it stores. This means more spreadsheets to keep up with, which can ultimately lead to information overload.
With an automated accounting solution, you get real-time visibility over the status of your payments and the invoice approval process, simply by running a report from your ERP.
Powerful Data Analytics
Powerful data analytics are a byproduct of AP automation software that can seamlessly integrate into your ERP, CMS or other business platform. This can significantly boost productivity by streamlining workflows and ensuring that your data is recorded accurately across platforms.
Such integration capability is a powerful tool for gaining insights into things like vendor price increases, late payments or potential inventory shortfalls — all automatically and without having to manually enter every stitch of information or rely on the often clunky spreadsheet data importing templates.
By comparison, if your data lives in a spreadsheet you're missing out on the benefits of automatically synchronizing information with your other software platforms. This opens the door to data errors, whether it's a random typo when entering data or a botched Excel formula, or information that's up to date on your ERP, for example, but remains out of date in Excel.
Using an AP automation solution that integrates with a company’s ERP also means that finance teams don't have to wait for an accountant to have spare time to update a spreadsheet when payment activity is updated, whether it’s via the ERP or from the accounting platform. Such an integration ensures that, with minimal data entry, those updates are captured and reflected across the board, in real time.
One of Excel's biggest shortcomings is the potential for data-entry or formatting errors that can creep in, distorting your business insights and ultimately costing time to correct.
Needless to say, recording transaction information accurately is essential for reliable accounting. As long as you rely on manual data entry, the risk of errors will be higher than it needs to be.
AP automation minimizes errors by automatically populating your software with information from bank statement reconciliations and vendor invoices, among other sources.
This means fewer headaches when it comes time to prepare quarterly reports, or during annual tax filing season.
Tired of Excel and its shortcomings in today's era of instant financial data management?
Accounting automation software is a far more efficient and useful tool to anchor your accounting department's many essential tasks. And it will ensure you're spending more time delivering high-value insights into your company's financial health and less time trying to catch up to the speed of business.
AP automation software is leaps and bounds ahead of spreadsheet-based accounting and can deliver cost savings and better cash flow management while ensuring you have visibility into any potential invoice snags.
DocuPhase's AP automation solution integrates seamlessly with a company's existing ERP. It can manage complex AP workflows, resulting in problem-free customer and vendor transactions, faster and more reliable payment processing, and cost savings from reduced AP errors. It also fully supports cloud integration.
Ready to see how ditching Excel in favor of AP automation software can help your accounting department level up its game? Request a demo today.