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AP Automation for More Meaningful Work

Ideally, these tools should be intelligent automation solutions - meaning that they learn and optimize the process automatically over time. Furthermore, they should be compliant with payment security and AP reporting standards.

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By James Thomas.

Automation is the future of work – and it isn’t because of the labor shortage. While the “Great Resignation” has brought the importance of the employee experience and workflow automaton into national discussions, the lack of skilled employees isn’t the problem.

The issue lies in the lack of meaningful work.   

Employees spend over   three hours a day on automatable work. These repetitive tasks drain time and resources from the company and leave little bandwidth for employees when they finally get to the interesting work.

Consider AP and AR professionals. Without automated accounting and finance workflows, they are stuck finishing boring manual processes, such as reviewing expense reports or calculating VAT. But they weren’t hired to do data entry, and they likely don’t enjoy it.

When workers are forced to spend their time on repetitive routine tasks, their employee engagement plummets. The work isn’t meaningful, the workflow is taxing, and employees aren’t able to use their full skillset.

In fact,   9 out of 10 employees would take a pay cut for a more meaningful work experience—furthermore, workers who feel that their job has purpose are 69% less likely to quit.

So, where do automation workflows come in?

Automation is no longer a competitor

For years many workers eyed automation with suspicion. Today, we know that workflow automation is not here to snatch up human jobs but to complement the employee experience. And this is particularly true for AP and AR departments. Financial professionals don’t have enough time in the day for both manual processing tasks, such as invoice matching, and delving into analytics or strategy.

Automation tools provide a way for accounting professionals to boost their productivity and reduce their time on repetitive tasks. At the same time, workflow automation decreases the chance for human error and expense fraud. While human interaction is still required in continuing the software and dealing with exceptions, automated workflows are far faster and more accurate than editing processes. Time spent on invoice processing alone can drop from 11.7 days to 3.1.

In other words, automation isn’t replacing workers. Instead, it’s streamlining boring, meaningless processes and making it easier for existing employees to do their jobs well.

Enhancing the employee experience

The combination of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and intelligent automation ensure an improved employee experience. Today’s automation technology allows the machine to learn and adapt its process semi-independently, with very little human interaction. Best-in-class software has a   10% exception rate, meaning that finance professionals can breeze through manual workloads and configure their automation to reduce potential exceptions further.

Furthermore, many automation tools factor user experience into their automated process and design their interface to be easy to use and navigate. And after the initial setup, employees should only have to tweak their tools once or twice a year, if ever.

Meanwhile, AP and AR teams can focus on business operations strategy, foster relationships with other departments, and provide more detailed insight and review into business spending. In other words, they can be seen as prominent stakeholders in the business and provide meaningful insight to the management team.

Providing tools for meaningful work

There are a few items to consider for CFOs and accounting department managers looking to invest in automated workflows.

First, what automation technology software will most meet your needs. Generally, a few features every AP automation workflow will need are:

  • Invoice AI automation to capture, verify, and reconcile invoices.
  • Data extraction and matching automation to capture data from receipts.
  • VAT reclamation and processing capabilities.
  • General workflow automations that can collect and present in-depth data from your AP process.

Ideally, these tools should be intelligent automation solutions – meaning that they learn and optimize the process automatically over time. Furthermore, they should be compliant with payment security and AP reporting standards.

Finally, the best long-term solution will also be cloud-based. These platforms make remote work a cinch and allow your AP team to easily work from anywhere.


James Thomas is the founder and CEO of