Robotic Process Automation in Accounts Payable

Growing up in Ireland in the early 1970’s, we had one TV station.  Unless of course you lived on the east coast of Ireland and had an arial on your roof that enabled you to receive the BBC and ITV stations broadcast from the UK. 

I know it’s hard to imagine today with all of the TV stations, YouTube, TikTok, Reels and all of the other streaming services that are available. In single-channel TV land, a friend invited me over one day to watch Dr Who, (a British sci-fi drama series that began in the 1960’s and is still running today, 60 years later!). 

Unfortunately, the only memory I have of that program is ‘daleks’.  They looked like upside-down armored trash cans on wheels, with large rivets, and two ‘lasers’ on the front.  They shouted ‘Exterminate’, ‘Exterminate’ whenever they encountered humans. 

The hype about Robotic Process Automation in Accounts Payable makes me wonder if people processing invoices in accounts payable fear robots coming to ‘Exterminate’ their jobs?  Let’s look at the reality. 

Supplier Invoice Automation 

Supplier invoice automation is one of the key components of accounts payable automation. At its core, it’s about removing manual processes when dealing with supplier invoices. You know those hours spent inputting data from an invoice? AI can help streamline that. But here’s the catch: it doesn’t mean your expertise isn’t needed! 

Think about it – who’s going to handle discrepancies or unique situations that AI isn’t familiar with? That’s right, us humans. So, while this tech can handle repetitive tasks and reduce errors, it’s not replacing our human touch. 

Robotic Process Automation in Accounts Payable 

Now, onto robotic process automation (RPA) in accounts payable. Sounds super high-tech, right? It kind of is! RPA is all about automating routine and mundane tasks. Think of it like having a super-efficient assistant that never needs coffee breaks. This “assistant” can handle tasks like data extraction and invoice matching. But, and it’s a big BUT, RPA still requires oversight. 

It’s like giving an assistant a task list—you still need to review their work, provide feedback, and handle the complexities that only a human mind can decipher. 

AP Automation: More Than Just Tech

Lastly, let’s chat about AP automation in accounts payable. Yes, tech plays a significant role, making processes more efficient, reducing manual labor, and potentially minimizing errors. However, AP is more than just number-crunching. It’s about vendor relationships, strategic planning, and company-wide financial decisions. 

Can AI provide insights? Absolutely. Can it replace the human understanding, negotiations, and strategy considerations? Not so much. 

Are the Robots Here to Take Over? 

AP Automation software companies have a vested interest in promoting AI in accounts payable. After all, there are so many benefits that can be derived from robotic process automation. It’s important to explore the opportunities that can be obtained from supplier invoice automation. 

Yes, many mundane, routine tasks will be replaced by automation, but new roles will be created that deliver more value-add to organizations and more rewarding jobs for staff. 

In summary, robots are not here to take over Accounts Payable.  They are simply a tool that utilized correctly should enable us focus our attention on activities we have traditionally struggled to find time for because of the burden on manual data processing. 

Let me Know Your Thoughts 

If you have a view on RPA in accounts payable, reach out and let me know.  I am always delighted to receive feedback. 

And if there are any topics that you want to cover, I will take them on board. 

Finbarr McCarthy

Chief Invoice Automation Evangelist

Finbarr McCarthy