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Effect of Automation on AP Performance at Large Invoice Processing Organizations: Infographic and Benchmark Study

Do centralization and automation of accounts payable (AP) operations have an impact on performance? Centralization had typically been a precursor to implementation of process automation. Progress in automating accounts payable processes continues, but with a wide range of difference across organizations. While some enterprises adopt very little automation, others have essentially fully automated accounts payable operations. Automation promises a reduction in time and cost to process invoice payments.

In December 2014, TCS collaborated with the Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM) to conduct a benchmarking study on automation and centralization of accounts payable (AP) processes. Over 400 organizations in 18 industries across the globe, of which 136 organizations process over 100,000 invoices annually, responded to this survey.

In the past few years, there has been a shift towards centralized Accounts Payable (AP) processing in organizations with large invoice volumes. The study aimed to find the extent to which organizations with large invoice processing volumes have adopted centralized invoice processing and the investments they have made in automation technologies.

The survey was designed to discover:

  • The extent to which large organizations have adopted centralized invoice processing, leveraging operating models of shared services and global service centers
  • The types of investments organizations have made in automation of AP processes
  • The effects of the operating model on the level of automation-related investment in AP
  • The effect of automation on AP processes and benefits of implementing high-level automation

The survey findings have been summarized through an infographic and a summary report.


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The most common AP automation currently being implemented or planned in the next 12 months is workflow technology. Other priority automation solutions include supplier portals, followed by e-invoicing projects. OCR is also in the pipeline, while ERP consolidation along with automated purchase order systems are also of significant interest.

Our study indicates that the future of centralization and automation is compelling. Organizations can substantially reduce invoice processing costs and processing times. Centralized operations with high levels of automation lead to better performance.

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