Automate AP for a Fresh Financial Slate in the New Year Feature image
Automate AP for a Fresh Financial Slate in the New Year Feature image
Accounting
January 4, 2024

Automate AP for a Fresh Financial Slate in the New Year

by The Ottimate Editorial Team

The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection (at least, once you’ve survived the holiday rush and taken a few deep breaths to decompress!). One way to start the year off right is to automate accounts payable (AP) and set your AP department up for success.

Manual AP and invoice processing is often a complicated, time-consuming task. Other software just digitizes the same painful, manual process. Ottimate automates the AP process by using AI and machine learning that works with you and for you across the entire invoice lifecycle. With Ottimate, you can avoid many of the invoice headaches you may have experienced this last year.

As your team looks to tie up loose ends for the next year, there’s no better feeling than greeting the new year with a clean desk, an organized schedule, and a freshly automated AP process. Here’s how invoice automation and payment automation can help you start the new year refreshed!

AP staff working together at a desktop computer to automate ap

Reduce Paper & Automate AP With a Tool That Understands Your Invoices

As a finance professional, you know the struggle of a misplaced paper invoice. Paper invoices are easy to misplace, and even if you can keep track of all your papers, sorting through which invoices are already entered, which are approved, and which are outstanding can be messy. 

That’s why many industries are ditching paper invoices and moving toward a digital AP ecosystem. If your vendor is part of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system, your invoice data can seamlessly feed into your accounting system. 

Don’t get left behind, and take steps to automate AP!

Unfamiliar abbreviations. Line item details. Inconsistent invoice formats. Ottimate can translate it all to your general ledger with ease and precision.

After importing invoices into an AP solution like Ottimate, you need to assign invoice items to the correct GL codes. To categorize financial data and analyze spending, accurate coding is necessary. AP automation eliminates manual data entry and improves accuracy by automatically mapping each line item to your chart of accounts. By doing this, the coding process is faster and there are fewer mistakes, resulting in more accurate financial reporting.

AP teams can build on these efficiencies and use even less paper. When it’s time to get approvals, you don’t need to print invoices out to get physical signatures. Instead, route approvals through digital workflows that can be customized and handle any complexity, in Ottimate’s automated system.

With so many moving pieces, small errors can have a large impact on your overall books. Automation works to eliminate human entry errors, creating a foundation made up of more accurate data. Any errors made in the invoice process will ultimately skew your reporting and take up even more time to sort out. 

The shift toward invoice digitization can have a dramatic effect on the paper you use at your restaurant. For example, by using Ottimate as their automated invoice processing software, the Karl Strauss Brewing Company reduced their AP paper use by 95%

Ottimate payment automation product abstract

Streamline Payments With Payment Automation

Time is money” is a common saying for a good reason. Your organization’s financial success hinges on efficient processes and workflows. However, managing financial transactions can be a complex and time-consuming task. This is where payment automation comes in.

Payment automation adds efficiencies to your AP process, while also saving your staff time, cutting down on errors, and improving your relationships with vendors. Discover how to automate vendor bill payments today.

Issuing paper checks to your vendors requires a long process of printing, physical signatures, and stuffing envelopes. Even after6 your checks are mailed, you need to track your payments during potential mail delays to make sure checks arrive on time. 

Switching to digital payments via a solution like Ottimate’s VendorPay lets you to avoid the hassle of paper checks. Automating AP consolidates all your invoice approvals and payments onto one central platform. A digital payment ecosystem allows you to pay invoices online through all different types of payments, such as virtual cards, ACH, and individual vendor portals, as well as automated check printing, email, or phone call payments. 

Once you streamline your entire payment process, you remove the manual tracking of vendor payments and completing check runs — freeing your team’s time to focus on other tasks, such as expanding reporting in different areas or reviewing spending trends.

Woman sitting at a desk working on a computer

Replace Your Filing Cabinet With a Digital System of Record

Your AP automation system can do more than just clean up the extra invoices lying around the office and streamline your payments. It can also serve as a complete invoice digitization tool, creating a digital record of your invoice information.

The old system of record? A massive filing cabinet, usually stored somewhere in the central office. If staff needed to know any historical sales information, like how much a case of tomatoes cost at this time last year or how much coffee for the break room you ordered last month, you would need to track down a paper trail, which can be time-consuming and inefficient — and that’s assuming that all items are coded correctly.

With an AP automation system, invoices are digitized in line-item detail, capturing header data and line-by-line details like product names, quantities, and pricing. Your GL codes are applied automatically to your invoices, creating a smaller chance for errors in the initial coding.

Digitizing this information frees you from the physical filing cabinet of the past. If you ever need to reference the details of an invoice or payment, it’s easy to verify and find the right documentation without sorting through paperwork. Electronic digital management allows you to quickly search invoice data. An AP solution like Ottimate stores invoices securely for up to seven years, allowing you to check your invoice history over the long term.

As more companies offer work-from-home and hybrid options, you also don’t need to be in the office to check this digital system of record. You can manage invoices remotely by checking your invoice history from anywhere.

Northstone Country Club Ottimate customer story graphic

Be Prepared for End-Of-Year Reports and Tax Season

Businesses prepare a wide range of year-end financial reports. These reports can inform your strategic planning as well as lay the foundation for a smooth tax season. An automated AP process lets your business avoid spending weeks combing through ledgers and spreadsheets to manually generate reports. You’ll know your GL-coding is correct, providing a solid foundation for many areas.

For example, your business receives thousands of items as inventory throughout the year. These items need to be coded correctly for inventory purposes, but also for your taxes. It’s essential to know that you are applying the correct taxes to each code — for instance, food items may not be taxed in restaurants, but items like your cleaning chemicals are. Automated AP and invoice digitization helps ensure you have correctly applied categories and can generate accurate numbers come tax season. 

In addition, with your inventory spend automatically clearly categorized by GL code, you can drill down into expense categories and plan your expenses for years to come.

Finally, as you examine your expenses before and during tax season, your accurate invoice and expense data are easily accessible in a centralized dashboard. If you do need specific information for your taxes, your digital files are searchable, making it possible to pull up any scanned invoice when needed.

Businesswoman accountant going over working to automate AP at her office desk with papers and coffee

Automate AP For the New Year with Ottimate

A new year is an excellent opportunity to examine new options and make changes that can help remove any pain points in your business.

After a holiday season of rest, resetting, and reflection, there’s no better time than now to think about streamlining your invoice coding, reducing paper, and adding efficiencies into your payment processes — all things that will make your desk, and to-do list, a little less cluttered in the year ahead.

Ready to revolutionize your AP processes through AP automation? Schedule an Ottimate demo today!

Refreshed for quality and content on January 4, 2024. Originally published on December 20, 2021.

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