Cash flow is essentially what keeps any business, large or small, afloat. Cash is coming in, and it’s going out. When your business finds that more is going out than coming in, you have a problem. Avoiding issues with cash flow is a top objective for most businesses and finance teams, but it can be tough. There needs to be a healthy balance between accounts payable and accounts receivable, and there also needs to be visibility and use of analytics so that forecasting can be done effectively. Yes, you can cover shortages with working capital, but there may be times when you find that you’ve also expended available credit, which can ultimately mean the end of a business. One thing that companies can put in place in the new year to avoid problems with cash flow is AP automation. The following outlines some of the ways AP automation can help improve cash flow and overall efficiency.

Shortening Invoice Processing Time

Anytime you can make accounting processes more efficient, you’re going to be reducing the risk that you run into issues down the road. For example, if AP approvals are happening in real time there’s no delay that could lead to problems with accounting. Finance teams know exactly what they’re working with at any given time rather than waiting for long periods for things to be approved or go through. All key stakeholders will know what’s happening throughout each step of the process. When companies are handling the management of invoices the old-fashioned way, they have no idea what’s coming down the chute and what’s pending. It’s clunky and full of opportunities for cash flow problems to arise, and that's exactly where automated invoice processing solution helps the most.

Avoiding Penalties

With cash flow, you want your processes to operate smoothly, but you also want to find places to save money whenever possible. By automating accounts payable, organizations can earn potential discounts for paying early or on time, and avoid late fees that can add up quickly. When businesses have the organization and efficiency that comes along with an automated AP solution, they’re also more likely to be able to focus on building strong relationships with vendors. This can help them identify new deals and money-saving opportunities, and also have an existing relationship which can be helpful if there is a future issue with cash flow that needs to be addressed.

Data and Analytics

So often a company wouldn’t run into issues with cash flow if they had visibility. It may not be a money problem, but it could be more related to a lack of transparency as to what’s happening and how to appropriately plan. Using advanced AP automation software like SoftCo AP automation solutions that integrate with other financial departments company-wide can provide the opportunity to extract key data and analytics not only for improved overall visibility but also to make forecasting much easier. Finally, as was touched on above, cash flow can always be improved when companies find ways to cut expenses, and AP automation offers that as well, in a variety of ways. It cuts down on the average cost to process an invoice, reduces or eliminates errors, flags potential fraud, and allows employees to be more productive.