FI Insider: How Would Your Day Be Different With Automated AP?

Is your financial institution stuck in the dark ages when it comes to processing payments? Are you still relying on (gasp!) paper? Ever wonder how things could be different if your back office embraced automation?

No need to speculate — now you can peek behind the scenes in our hypothetical day-in-the-life comparison.

Maybe your FI has automated some, but not all, of your back-office operations. From electronic payments to an easy (read: automatic) approval workflow, here’s a glimpse into how AP automation can change your work day.

Before Automation: Welcome to the Grind

Here’s the thing about paper — it’s cumbersome. Between all of the printing and filing and envelope stuffing, it can make you feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel. Not only do manual back-office processes take longer (and elicit more headaches), they’re are also prone to error. When you’ve been staring at a spreadsheet for six hours, can anyone really blame you for a data entry mistake? We think not. Here’s what a typical day looks like doing things “the old way.”

What Lunch Break?

It’s been a busy morning at the bank. You’ve spent hours printing payment checks, stuffing envelopes, creating labels and affixing postage. Did you really get a degree for this? Now it’s lunchtime and you’re eating a sad salad at your desk (again), while trying not to go cross-eyed staring at a spreadsheet.

It’s month end, and you’re staring down a mountain of reconciliation, among myriad other manual tasks. Forget about lunch, let’s be honest — getting it all done is going to eat into your weekend.

You glance over at your overflowing inbox. A pile of invoices that still need approval is silently screaming at you. Among them, the check stock bill is now past due, and you still can’t manage to track down Annie for approval. You could swear that the woman is an apparition.

Paparazzi and Post Office Lines

You check Annie’s meeting schedule, eyeball her closed door and realize that she’s actually here — in the office — in a meeting that’s about to end. An opportunity! You feel a little bit like a paparazzo, but ever so casually hover at the closed door checking your watch, prepared to swoop in when her 3:00 leaves.

Your phone rings back at your desk and you scoot over to quickly field it. It’s the yard crew, wondering where their payment is. You’re pretty sure you paid the bill … didn’t you? You turn on your charm as you rifle through a file cabinet exploding with papers. The file is not where it should be, much less the invoice — you’re going to need to call them back.

As you hang up, you see Annie sweeping out the exit. And just like that, you’ve lost her. Ugh. You check your watch again and cringe — you’ve got to get to the post office before it closes to mail a batch of payments. You can already anticipate the line … yikes. It’s going to be close! It’s Friday afternoon, and your work is far from being done.

 

After Automation: Cruise Control

The best thing about AP automation — beyond the hour-long (okay, maybe hour and fifteen) lunch breaks? It makes you look good. With all of those menial tasks off your plate, you actually have time to do more important work, for which you’ve been recognized. Amazing what you can accomplish with 70% more time in your day!

Pain-Free Accounts Payable

Just back from your mid-morning smoothie break, you log into your AP platform and see that a new invoice has arrived in your inbox. The data has automatically been captured and the vendor identified. A couple of keystrokes is all it takes to move the invoice along as it’s automatically routed to Dave for approval. Oh, crap. Dave’s in Pensacola for the week.

Hold the phone … approved? Really? Dave apparently has his work phone at the beach and approved the invoice in a single click. Awesome. The payment is sent out without you having to lift another finger — or physically cut a check, thank God. What a pain to deal with paper for all those years.

Your manicures last so much longer these days, speaking of … You’ll be heading out to get your nails done on your lunch break because, you know, it’s Friday. And you have fun plans this weekend. But first, you need to run that report for your CFO.

Poised for a Promotion

Your bank is about to merge with a regional competitor, which means the workforce will double while the branches nearly triple. While the sheer number of payments that will be coming through AP will skyrocket, you’re not worried. Now that the computers do practically all of the grunt work, you’ve had so much more time to work on bigger initiatives for the bank.

In fact, you’ve been helping your CFO plan for the merger by projecting costs and helping to allocate resources appropriately. In a few clicks, you’ve merged the reports for various branches — new and old — to produce a snapshot of what the bank’s AP expenses are going to look like moving forward. 

Because you’re proactive, you’ve also gone ahead and input all of the new employees into the system, so processing that many more expense reports should be a breeze. And it doesn’t hurt that your legwork will score you a few extra points. Hey, there’s a promotion on the line, and you’re a shoe-in.

Which Reality Would You Prefer?

You don’t have to answer that. Judging by the sheer number of FIs that are finally seeing the light and automating their back office, it seems like even the most traditional, set-in-their-ways banks are boarding the automation train. And why wouldn’t they? Beyond making your job easier, it saves the bank both time and money, and allows the AP team to shine.