Three Pervasive AP and AR Document Management Trends in 2011 and Beyond

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After more than 30 years in the accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) document management and workflow automation technology business, I can tell you that 2011 is shaping up to be among the most exciting.

I’m personally gratified and energized as more and more organizations integrate AP and AR automation technology with enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics. As I’ve said previously, ERP integration puts accounting in the best position to use the efficiency and visibility AP automation cultivates to empower the C-suite to make sound, informed decisions, and to drive measurable return on the organization’s ERP investment.

Over the past year, a cross-industry call for more paperless process automation has cultivated the need to deliver that automation in more ways to address a wider array of business challenges than ever before. For 2011 and beyond, it has become clear that three of the most pervasive AP and AR document management trends are already beginning to take shape:

  • AP and AR automation technology will increasingly take to the cloud. While traditional, premises-based licensing options remain more common, our customers are increasingly requesting the time and cost savings and flexibility that cloud-based solutions can offer. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) options that offer secure Web-based access without infrastructure and software-license expenses will continue to gain traction and popularity.
  • AP and AR automation technology will be critical in helping businesses manage evolving 1099 reporting requirements. While its fate is uncertain, the expansion of 1099 reporting requirements will require technology that can scale to meet them. As a result, we’ll see an increase in supplier self-service portals, integrated with AP/AR document management technology that can automatically capture tax identification numbers and supporting information to help make the reporting process easier.
  • AP and AR automation technology in retail, manufacturing, and distribution will intensify, cultivating increased sales potential. The depth and breadth of supplier and customer relationships in retail, manufacturing, and distribution will require back-office operations that are streamlined to efficiently support them and make them successful. For example, in the retail sector, the 2010 holiday shopping season showed general improvement over last year’s numbers.  As retailers evaluate their success, sustaining the improvement will require the entire retail chain –including retailers themselves and the manufacturers and wholesalers/distributors that support them – to have AP and AR automation and workflow technology in place that can keep pace with tracking, managing and reporting the increased volume of sales activity all year long. More automation across the entire retail, manufacturing and distribution chains support smarter and better business decisions rooted in up-to-the-minute data.

As 2011 continues to unfold, what accounting automation trends are you seeing?

By Nick Sprau, Metafile Information Systems

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