A 5-Step Approach: Best Practices for Implementing an Accounts Payable Solution

Physical steps leading to different departments involved in the accounts payable process.

Successful implementation of a digital accounts payable solution depends as much on the processes in place as on the solution you choose. This rings equally true for accounting software, enterprise resource management solutions, and intelligent information solutions that integrate with these systems to manage the flow of information and streamline AP processes from end to end. But what should these processes look like? And how should they be implemented? While that partly depends on your organization and its needs, there is a framework of best practices that can be broadly applied and adapted.

Below is an excerpt from Square 9’s expert accounts payable guide for Dynamics 365 Business Central users. While this excerpt mentions Business Central as an enterprise resource management system, these invoice automation best practices apply to any financial system your organization may use. Read on to discover 5 steps for efficient accounts payable automation, and check out Your Ultimate Guide to Accounts Payable Automation for Dynamics 365 Business Central.


Five Steps for Accounts Payable Efficiency with Business Central

The accounts payable process is multifaceted and often requires the efforts and input of multiple individuals and departments. Automating this process from end to end accounts for many factors and may even require communication between multiple digital solutions. By implementing these five steps into your accounts payable automation process, you can ensure efficiency throughout all accounts payable facets and fuel Business Central with valuable data without any manual entry. 

Step 1: Image Transformation

Any successful Accounts Payable process starts with the transformation of invoices into usable information. Whether it is a paper document, a scanned image, or a PDF email attachment, your system should support a dynamic process for accurate data extraction. Most recently, this has been achieved through AI-driven data extraction, which eliminates the need for rules or proximity-based extraction models. 

Step 2: Data Validation

Pushing raw data into your financial system is never a good idea, so it’s essential to have a process in place for quality assurance. Some organizations will insist on 100% visual validation of the information before releasing it to Business Central. In contrast, others will sample the data based on confidence level reporting, which sets a threshold for accuracy. This is a critical step in the success of your project, so make sure you are comfortable with the information being shared between applications. 

Step 3: Approval Routing

Upon assignment of approval, the manager must review the invoice, ensure that the goods or services were received, and let the Accounts Payable department know to release payment. While email notification is a viable option for this process, safeguards should be in place to ensure that the transaction is not misplaced. Ensure your business process has reminder notifications or an escalation path enabled if there is no response. Another option is a work queue or web portal allowing managers to see their pending tasks. 

Step 4: Payable Creation in Business Central

Once the data has been validated and the transaction approved for payment, the Accounts Payable team simply approves the release of the data to Business Central. Depending on your process, this may also require General Ledger coding to ensure the transaction is applied correctly. Upon release, the flow of information into Business Central creates the payable invoice without any need for manual data entry. 

Step 5: Archiving the Image

Maintaining the vendor invoice source document is not only a good business practice but it’s also mandated by the IRS. You should always have the source document as a point of reference should a question arise, but where you maintain it is up to you. You can archive the image in an IIM platform like Square 9’s GlobalSearch or as an attachment in Business Central. Additional options include Google Drive, Citrix Sharefile, or an SFTP release to a file folder. 

How Square 9 Can Help

Square 9 is a leading provider of AI-powered intelligent document processing solutions that take the paper out of work and make it easier to get things done. With digital workflows that automate many aspects of how you work today, we make it easy by extracting information from scans or PDFs, storing documents in a searchable archive, and building digital twins of your current processes through graphical workflows.

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