Ben Price (SAP Concur) on automating vendor invoice management

31 August 2022 5 min. read
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A growing number of companies are working with consultants on the digital transformation of their finance function. One of the areas which typically provides opportunity potential is invoice management. Ben Price, Chief Operations Officer for Asia Pacific at SAP Concur, explains how AI-powered invoice solutions can enhance performance.

What is the role of automating financial process like vendor invoice management in ensuring transparency, accountability, and best optimizing the company's resources?

Digital transformation offers finance leaders the opportunity to transform vendor invoice management by automating manual processes into intelligent, digital workflows. As a result, finance departments are rapidly adopting new technologies to take advantage of this new digital paradigm.

As digital transformation continues to evolve, organizations are now more focused than ever on leveraging a modern invoice management solution to drive business value.

Ben Price, Chief Operations Officer for Asia Pacific, SAP Concur

SAP Concur solution automates the complete invoice management process from invoice capture to payment. The service platform has been designed to help companies eliminate late payments, better manage cash flow, streamline purchase requests, and automate approvals. It also helps to reduce the kind of errors that can typically surface in manual invoice processing by streamlining data entry and using automation to increase cross-organization visibility.

In addition, a mobile app is available to match invoices with purchase orders, track submitted invoices, and expedite approvals.

These solutions help the finance teams to automate better and deliver best results. Some of the benefits include:

Reduced approval turnaround
Companies who are dealing with a large set of employees might face challenges in approvals of bills or there are times that things get lost in an email. SAP Concur solutions help organizations to check every invoice that has been assigned and if the person responsible for approval delays by a certain number of days, it gets escalated to the tech manager.

Decreased error-related costs
Automating the financial process helps in savings by avoiding vendor invoicing errors. They are identified with the purchase order matching and approval process with SAP Concur solutions.

Better workflow saves time
With the help of automation, managing the process is simple. Turnaround time for invoices is much faster as the whole electronic workflow process is more effective and gives error-free results.

How does advanced tech such as AI and ML save time and prepare companies for growth?

Advanced workflow management solutions help in creating efficiencies while processing accounts payable (AP) invoices. By capturing key data points and utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the solution helps corporates to eliminate data entry activities, manage cash flow strategies, and track costs.

Finance departments are rapidly adopting workflows powered by AI to cope with the new market dynamics. As digital transformation continues to evolve within finance functions, the importance of embedded intelligence will increase rapidly. The following are a few examples of AI-driven use cases for AP management:

  • Invoice process automation: AI is being used to automate these aspects of invoice processing, drastically reducing the time spent by finance managers within this workflow.
  • Auditing invoices and payments: AI and machine learning are being leveraged for tasks such as receipt matching, transaction exceptions, and behaviour patterns.
  • Data analytics: Professionals are using AI to quickly provide detailed information on millions of transactions for relevant reporting metrics, business insights, and compliance.
  • Fraud detection: Finance departments are using self-learning algorithms to quickly spot fraud schemes such as false invoices and check fraud.

Implementing modern invoicing tools within the finance process can positively impact working capital visibility and improve overall cash flow, which can be used to fund internal growth efforts such as increasing sales, marketing campaigns, or international expansion.

As organizations are ensconced in rapid growth cycles (especially midmarket companies), optimizing accounts payable is often seen as a potential driver of growth. Having visibility and control of invoices allows an organization to plan and control its growth more effectively.

Can you explain the importance of digitalized workflows and automated processes for making systems resilient?

Organizations are working in an environment with new demands that require new expense categories. Getting an accurate account of expenses in time and keeping track of spending and budget becomes difficult for organizations,.

SAP Concur solutions bring order and oversight to all these expenses. No matter how or where the team is working, employees can buy what they need to get business done, giving the organization the confidence that every purchase is approved, and every policy applied.

By integrating and automating processes, SAP Concur solutions are rapidly enhancing its expense management system. Expense reports and travel-related information are more easily accessible than it was five years ago.

We have made significant advances over the last several years through in-house development and partner integrations that help with everything from automating expense reports and workflows, auditing transactions against travel and expense policies and regulations, and ensuring tax compliance, thus helping the organizations, and enhancing the employee experience.