What Finance Professionals Need in an AP Automation Solution

The market for accounts payable automation continues to evolve as more finance professionals develop an awareness, and more importantly, an understanding of the benefits. According to our 2019 State of Accounts Payable report, nearly one out of every five middle-market business plan to adopt AP automation within one year, which when coupled with the 24% of businesses already automating AP, demonstrates the market’s current state.

Whether the concept of accounts payable automation is a familiar one or not, there are specific features you should look for in a potential solution. Our survey respondents prioritized the following:

Integration with ERP Solution

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions help businesses streamline and automate business functions to facilitate scalability associated with growth. Fundamentally, ERP systems and AP automation go hand-in-hand as each addresses many of the same challenges associated with streamlining business operations. High-level decision makers in the finance department recognize manual practices, such as uploading and downloading files, creates extra work — especially when a chief benefit of AP automation is the elimination of unnecessary tasks. In addition, the existence of multiple logins to execute basic accounts payable tasks creates fragmentation for AP staff, creating bottlenecks and complications for day-to-day operations.

To further derive even greater benefits of automation, implementing a solution which connects to both your ERP and bank accounts removes the need for double data entry, but also provides users with a single source of truth for your AP.

Fraud Protection

According to AFP’s annual payment fraud survey, 82% of businesses were impacted by payment fraud in 2018. And those in the middle-market were not spared, as the 2019 State of Accounts Payable found that nearly 60% of companies in that space reported at least one incidence of fraud. However, AP automation solutions mitigate fraud risk with the addition of controls into the AP process. These controls include segregation of duties, dual-factor authentication, and tokenization.

Segregation of Duties

This payment control process prevents internal fraud by erecting a system of checks and balances. Since one individual is not responsible for, nor has access to the entire payment process, segregation of duties serves as a fraud deterrent.

Dual-Factor Authentication

Weak password protection can lead to security breaches, unless you’re leveraging dual-factor authentication. This feature adds a layer of security protection by requiring employees to enter a unique security code, sent via text or email, prior to a release of funds.

Tokenization

This process ensures sensitive credit card information is protected. With tokenization, an individual’s primary account number (PAN) is replaced with a series of random and unique letters, numbers, and symbols, called tokens. This token can only be charged by a vendor one time and for one specific amount. Through the process of tokenization, one’s credit card details are never exposed, mitigating the risk of fraud.

Payment Scheduling

Traditionally, finance teams employed complex and elaborate spreadsheet systems to manage payment deadlines. Unsurprisingly, this could often lead to greater instances of late payments, or worse yet, the potential for unpaid bills altogether.

Vendors are critical to the success of any business, and automation provides more visibility and adds a layer of organization which can help sustain healthy vendor relations.

End-to-End AP Automation with MineralTree

Over one thousand businesses have successfully transitioned to automated processes by partnering with MineralTree. MineralTree’s product brings the most innovative and cutting-edge features and capabilities to support the specific needs of middle-market businesses, including a robust integration into the most popular ERPs, a higher degree of fraud protection, and automatic payment scheduling.

Curious to learn more about what your accounts payable process can look like with automation? Contact MineralTree for a personalized demo.

Mike Flynn

Mike was the Senior Marketing Manager at MineralTree. He drove lead and demand generation efforts in addition to his contributions to the P3 Blog.