New research from Formscan has revealed the extent that UK firms are still operating manual invoice processing systems. The research shows that only 52% of UK companies have automated their accounts payable (A/P) processes and 50% have automated their accounts receivable (A/R) processes, such as using electronic capture for supplier invoices and e-invoicing for customer invoices. This means that 48% of UK firms are foregoing savings of up to an estimated 80% on the cost of invoice processing. As only half of all firms surveyed regard their A/P and A/R systems as highly or fully automated, there is still huge potential for more widespread implementation.
Fewer small to medium-sized firms had high levels of automation, although A/P, significantly, was subject to greater automation than A/R. Interestingly, the community of companies with 250-1000 employees show remarkably good practice in A/P and A/R automation, possibly because these will often comprise businesses that are under considerable pressure from larger, weightier competitors, and who therefore urgently need to streamline costs, but who also are small enough to implement such changes without massive overheads or business interruption.
Compared to the 50% of companies that have some sort of end-to-end A/P and A/R automated solution, over two-thirds of firms acknowledge the benefits of such automation. Thus recognition of the advantages of automation is ahead of actual implementation, implying that a further proportion of companies are actively looking to put automation solutions in place. Moreover, it appears that those who have not yet implemented an appropriate solution are working their way towards it. Approximately 60% of companies can access all financial documents through a single desktop application, indicating that the organisation has already put in place a holistic method of accessing, appraising and analysing its individual and aggregated exposures to its creditors.
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