Three years post-pandemic, we’re still able to acknowledge its enduring impact on our daily lives.
Take DoorDash as an example. During the pandemic, DoorDash saw a huge 208.75% increase in gross order volume, according to Statista.
Now, in 2023, even as things return to normal, DoorDash continues to thrive with a reported 24% year-over-year increase in total orders.
What does this tell us?
It highlights a shift in the expectations of modern consumers. We were thrust into a digital-first world during the pandemic, and now we seek the convenience, efficiency, and speed that digital services offer.
But what does this have to do with the CFO’s back office?
This shift isn't unique to food delivery services. Accountants, suppliers, and finance leaders have all adapted to the expectation that tasks should be easy and seamless.
Yet, when it comes to accounts payable (AP) processes, many remain labor-intensive. It's no longer acceptable for accountants to download invoices, manually code them into ERPs, and validate each line item.
The pandemic has shown that "good enough" processes no longer suffice. There's a better way, and AP automation can help.
Read on as we explore four key advantages of AP automation that align with the expectations of modern consumers.
Attracting Top Talent
Amidst high demand for finance roles, the pool of accounting graduates is shrinking. The pool of college graduates with accounting degrees dipped 7.8% in the 2021-22 academic year, according to a report from AICPA.
This highlights the need for companies to enhance their appeal to potential talent, particularly as the workforce is shaped by digitally fluent Gen Z professionals who are accustomed to modern technological convenience and averse to outdated processes.
To accommodate this digitally adept generation, implementing a cutting-edge accounting automation system becomes imperative. Such a system should offer features such as:
- Email updates for invoice approvals
- Real-time insights through a centralized dashboard for payment activities
- A supplier portal with built-in chat functionality for streamlined communication and improved supplier relationship management
- Anywhere access to financial records including invoices, POs, and contracts, to simplify AP audits
By incorporating these digitized features with business process automation, companies not only meet the expectations of this tech-savvy workforce but also foster an environment that is efficient and attractive for potential talent.
Consider your monthly expenses, such as electricity, rent, and internet services. How many of these payments are still made by paper check?
Given the rise of digital payments, your answer is most likely “zero.” Recent years have seen a significant decline in consumer check payments, with a 7.2% annual decrease between 2018 and 2021, as reported by a Federal Reserve payments study. In contrast, digital payments have skyrocketed, with around nine in ten Americans embracing this method as of 2022.
In this digital age, where most consumers prefer convenient and seamless payment methods, financial back offices must follow suit. Modern enterprise automation solutions that cover the entire procure-to-pay cycle cater to two crucial aspects of the modern consumer mindset:
- Convenience: We now rely on email and app notifications for payment reminders, streamlining the payment process. Modern AP solutions allow invoice approvals to take place within your email inbox, and provide easy access to essential information on the go.
- Consistency: Scheduled recurring payments have eliminated the need for manual due date reminders. Similarly, businesses using AP automation with integrated supplier payments can ensure that invoice processing takes place without the need for manual exception handling, to ensure transactions with vendors take place without a second thought.
Let's expand on the DoorDash example discussed earlier. Besides the convenience of getting takeout delivered to your doorstep, the platform also has a grocery ordering service that can surprisingly yield significant cost savings for consumers.
Research shows that impulse buying tendencies account for 62% of supermarket sales. But when you’re equipped with the tools that allow you to pre-plan your expenses, order exactly what you need, and see your total cost incurred before purchase, online grocery orders can save you a lot when compared to in-store shopping.
Drawing parallels to business accounting, the implementation of AP automation offers similar advantages.
With a capture accuracy rate of up to 99.99%, industry-leading invoice automation solutions minimize errors in tasks such as line-item validation and GL coding, meaning fewer resources spent rectifying issues and lower unplanned expenses due to typos or processing delays.
Additionally, just as you can review your online cart total and adjust your order before checkout, an integrated AP solution not only helps identify anomalies in payment activities but also flags any duplicate or suspicious payments, ensuring enhanced financial vigilance and control.
Improved Financial Visibility
Every bill-payer wants real-time updates on their finances, but this is a convenience that only digital payments can provide.
For instance, web and mobile apps enable you to effortlessly check your personal financial activities, like credit card purchases, and even break down those expenses by categories like transportation, restaurants, retail, and groceries.
It's only fair to expect the same level of visibility from your AP automation solution.
With a fully-integrated platform, you can view all payment activities in a centralized dashboard. Best of all, payments made using digital payment methods such as ACH, virtual card, and eCheck, are updated instantly, which empowers finance teams to monitor received invoices, processed transactions, and scheduled payments in real-time.
This feature's impact on your business is profound. Like how personal expense analysis helps adjust your budget and spending habits, these AP insights empower business leaders to forecast and plan by studying spending patterns for the months ahead.
Accounting teams, finance leaders, and suppliers are consumers in their own daily routines, which makes it crucial for their business operations to reflect the modern conveniences they've become accustomed to.
AP automation solutions like DocuPhase meet these expectations while also optimizing the efficiency of the CFOs back office significantly. Its suite of digital solutions offers the convenience, accuracy, and visibility of tools used by today's consumers, and are constantly evolving to offer businesses innovative technologies to make their lives easier and their processes smarter.
Ready to level up your AP processes? Schedule a no-obligation consultation with a DocuPhase automation expert today!