The Record Issue 13: Summer 2019

68 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om I NT E R V I EW T imely payments are a valuable relationship builder for businesses of all sizes. And payments are getting faster thanks to new payments architectures like Faster Payments, the New Payments Platform in Australia, regu- lations like the European Union’s Late Payments Directive and other prompt payment and ‘pay- on-time’ initiatives. But despite their commit- ment and real-time payment capabilities, huge numbers of businesses are still paying their sup- pliers late. So what’s going wrong? Across the world, companies of all sizes face the same situation. “It is reported that Australian corporates pay their invoices 26.4 days past due, on average,” says Andrew Scarborough, com- mercial product at Bottomline Technologies. “In the UK, 90% of the financial decision-makers who took part in Bottomline’s 2019 Business Payments Barometer expect to be using real- time payments by 2020, and more than half already are. But 92% admitted they still pay their suppliers late.” With 40% of those decision makers (51% in medium-sized businesses) saying that inefficient Accounts Payable (AP) processes are limiting their ability to pay on time, it’s clear that some of the obstacles to prompt payment lie earlier in the invoice-to-pay cycle. “Real-time payments might knock two days off the time taken for a standard UK BACS payment for example, but payments are only part of the story,” says Scarborough. “Unless you are paying by an automated method like direct debit or a standing order, there will always be an invoice involved – and the processing of that invoice is often where the real hindrances lie. “Capturing invoice data and getting it into your system can be hugely labour-intensive and error- prone, with people logging into mailboxes to retrieve attachments and re-keying the data into the ERP. That data needs to be checked, validated and matched to the corresponding purchase orders (PO) and receipts, and any exceptions identified. Most concerning is that in some cases this is still a manual process. Obtaining payment approvals can also introduce significant delays and dealing with disputes is a huge drain on resources. Many AP teams spend up to 40% of their time dealing with calls from suppliers asking when they will be paid or raising other issues.” From invoice through to payment, technology drives greater efficiency and speed, but until recently, these solutions were the province of large organisations with the time and resources for complex software installations. The cloud has changed all that. “Now, enterprise-level end-to- end AP solutions can be accessed by businesses Andrew Scarborough tells us how Bottomline Technologies is creating an immersive experience within Dynamics 365, to enable truly efficient Accounts Payable processes Immersive invoice automation BY J ACQU I GR I F F I THS “Businesses these days are looking for a solution that gives an embedded experience and is deeply integrated with their ERP”