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Elevating Education: How Schools Can Improve the AP Process in 2024

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, efficient and well-organized administrative processes are key to delivering a seamless experience for students, parents, and faculty members. One crucial aspect of this is Accounts Payable (AP) management. In 2024, schools can make significant strides in enhancing the AP process by adopting innovative practices and leveraging technology. This article will explore strategies and best practices to improve AP processes within educational institutions.

  • Implement Automated Invoice Processing

Automation is a game-changer for schools looking to enhance their AP process. Automated invoice processing tools can capture, extract, and validate data from invoices, reducing the need for manual data entry. This not only speeds up the processing time but also minimizes the risk of errors and enables staff to focus on more value-added tasks.

One area, that is overlooked is how automation projects improve approval workflow process.

  • Well-defined approval workflows are crucial in ensuring that invoices are processed efficiently and in compliance with school policies.
  • Implement clear approval hierarchies and notification systems to keep stakeholders informed about the status of invoices.
  • Use technology to automate routing based on predetermined rules, expediting the approval process.

In our experience, Industry studies also show, that implementing an automated Invoice solution speeds up the processing cycle by up to 74% and reduces invoice processing costs by up to 80%.  In order to achieve this, your Invoice Automation solution should. One of the leading Invoice automation solutions, SAP Concur Invoice, made this happen by providing system features that reduce manual data entry, automate routine tasks such as matching prices and purchase orders, and have documents ready for faster and more efficient approval.

  • Improve Supplier Collaboration

In 2024, successful AP departments should prioritize supplier collaboration. Building strong relationships with suppliers can lead to better terms, discounts, and improved overall supply chain efficiency. Leveraging supplier portals and communication tools can facilitate real-time collaboration, making it easier to resolve issues, negotiate terms, and share critical information. AP teams should focus on transparent communication and mutually beneficial partnerships to foster a harmonious vendor ecosystem.

One way to improve collaboration is by encouraging vendors to use online portals for invoice submission and tracking. Vendor portals streamline the invoicing process, reduce the need for manual handling, and provide real-time visibility into invoice status. If you don’t have vendor portals, a simple use of central AP email where vendors can send the invoice and get “triage” will already give you 30-40% improvement in processing time. 

From the School AP perspective, if you use the right vendor collaboration tool, such as SAP Concur Invoice, you can take advantage of early payment discounts, lower transaction error, and better fraud mitigation, and allow constant transaction tracking (answers the question where is the invoice and the payment). From the vendor side, the right tool should allow them to view the status of their payments.

  • Use Credit Card Rebate Program

In the world of Accounts Payable (AP), every dollar saved can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. One innovative strategy businesses are increasingly adopting to boost their financial efficiency is adopting new ways of using Credit Card Products. One such innovation is using a Credit Card Rebate Program. A Credit Card Rebate Program is a financial arrangement in which a business uses a corporate credit card to make payments to vendors, suppliers, or service providers. In return for using the card for these transactions, the company receives a percentage of the total purchase amount back as a cash rebate or reward points.

One of the immediate benefits of using a corporate credit card for AP is the potential for cost savings. Many credit card companies offer competitive cashback percentages or rewards, effectively reducing the overall cost of business expenditures.  One of the leading Credit Card Rebate Program providers is Avidxchange – an SAP Concur partner. In their experience, AP automation software saved more than $7 per invoice.

But beyond the cost savings, consider also that Credit cards simplify the payment process by consolidating all transactions onto a single statement. This makes it easier for AP teams to track expenses, reconcile accounts, and identify discrepancies.

In addition, cash flow may also be improved. Credit card payment terms often provide a grace period, allowing businesses to delay actual payment while earning rebates immediately. This can significantly improve cash flow management and working capital.

Lastly, using Credit Cards for paying vendors can provide an extra layer of reports that can provide spending insights. Credit card statements provide detailed transaction data, making it easier to categorize and analyze expenses. This data can be invaluable for budgeting, expense analysis, and financial planning.

Conclusion

Efficient AP processes are pivotal in supporting the administrative backbone of educational institutions. By embracing tools like SAP Concur Invoice to improve automation, vendor collaboration, and integration with innovative products –like AvidXchange’s Credit Card Rebate program, schools can significantly improve their AP processes in 2024. These enhancements not only streamline operations but also enable better financial control, cost savings, and improved compliance. Ultimately, the result is an educational institution that is better equipped to provide a seamless experience for all stakeholders in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

By: JL Diaz

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