From XU Magazine, 
Issue 32

How to future-proof your accounts payable process for a looming recession

The importance of securing your accounts payable process in today’s economy

What are SMEs doing to secure their finances?
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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The daunting topic of inflation and a potential recession is starting to make SMEs consider how they can secure their financial operations for the future. 

Various factors such as Brexit and the cost of living crisis are impacting daily operations and supply chain management. SMEs are finding it more challenging to control their costs and plan ahead for business growth. Businesses using Xero are already off to a great start, as they’re able to manage finances in real time using a cloud-based accounting software suited to the modern business. 

However, for times like these, businesses are looking to make the most out of their finance systems by choosing accounts payable automation software that helps them to take control on costs. 

Here are a few features of AP automation that Zahara recommends for future-proofing your processes:

George Baines, Sales Development Representative

Spend control using purchase order approvals 

For SMEs, every penny counts when it comes to budgeting, and spending can quite quickly get out of hand if there aren’t processes in place to control it. Zahara controls spending by giving finance managers the power to predetermine budgets for each department and project and even makes these budgets adaptable throughout the year, accounting for your typical busy periods. It’s up to you whether these budgets enforce a hard stop on raising new orders, or simply offer a subtle indication as to how you’re doing against your targeted project spend.

Many of the finance managers I speak with will have a simple form of PO approval in place, often involving a physical Purchase Order being rushed across the office & waiting for an illegible scrawl when your director is finally off their call. Whilst this method can work, it obviously has its limitations. We believe our highly versatile approval workflows are the perfect solution for this as approvers can review the order by app or email & give the green light in seconds, whether they’re at their desk, on-site or out of the country. 

Drew Murray, Head of Sales

Built-in optical character recognition for 2 way matching

What is OCR? 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the capability of software to automatically read digital documents like PDFs or image files and extract specific information. For example, Zahara will capture all the key data points from emailed or scanned invoices including date, amount, line item details, descriptions, Purchase Order numbers, and more.

How can it help future-proof AP?

Not having to manually key in data can save significant amounts of time, even for those processing only a handful of invoices each week.  This is a popular reason for many new clients of ours who are experiencing growth, as it eliminates the need to recruit additional AP team members and the associated recruitment costs. 

 The cherry on the top is that it will allow you to almost eliminate human error. Instead of manually keying in data, AP teams can now spend just a fraction of the time performing simple checks and reports. 

Bethan Clothier, Marketing Assistant

Fraud detection

Zahara will flag discrepancies between invoices and purchase orders to check that the supplier, amount and bank details are correct. Money loss is prevented by the 2-way matching, so businesses can compare what they ordered vs exactly how much they are being charged. This can prevent fraudulent invoices that look like the real-deal from slipping through the cracks. When you’re processing 100+ invoices per month, a fake invoice impersonating a trusted supplier are difficult to spot. Invoice OCR Automation in Zahara will run these checks for you, for maximum spend control and security in your business spend.

Tim Helps, Sales Development Representative

The importance of data

The ability to run reports for different business data sets including Invoices, line items, PO’s and budgets has become more important as businesses look to improve their control over future financial management.  The reporting feature supplies data on a variety of areas that businesses use to forecast future spend, track budgets and improve the visibility and management over POs and invoices.

The ability to run reports in Zahara is straightforward and is easy to manage:

For users in Zahara, with the correct permissions, reporting is a straightforward process where you can create reports based on data sets most applicable to you. To produce the data most suited to you, users can apply a range of filters. You can save these filters and apply them again to future reports.

Once created, reports can be emailed to you in different formats, either in Excel or CSV format. Allowing users to use the data as they wish which can be shared with the wider business. The time taken for reports to arrive depends on the size of the report being created. 

Reporting is a key functionality to future-proofing financial processes as clients can track spend in real-time and produce month-end figures quickly. 

To conclude, Zahara recommends gaining control of spend in your business in order to future-proof for a pending recession. Knowing exactly how much you’re spending, who raised an order, what you actually received and being able to forecast spend are all benefits that come with all-in-one AP automation. Zahara is affordable cost control at a recession-friendly price from only £39 per month.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about Zahara

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