While this year has been surrounded by uncertainty, one thing is for sure: businesses both large and small are migrating to the digital world. It’s true, digitizing documents is key to optimizing workflows. However, when it comes to the procure-to-pay space, not all digital invoices and purchase orders are the same.

First of all, what is procure-to-pay? If you’re not familiar, procure-to-pay is the process of integrating purchasing and accounts payable systems to create greater efficiencies. So, why haven’t businesses made this shift already? Many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) struggle to move to the digital world because they still receive so many paper and PDF invoices.

Even so, document digitization technology-enhanced through artificial intelligence is invaluable. It not only automatically captures important data, but also streamlines the payment on an invoice. It can even go so far as helping a business predict cash flow.

Why SMBs are now choosing to digitize 

So, if many SMBs have waited until now to begin the process of digitizing, why now? The answer is pretty simple, yet complicated: the pandemic. For many years, SMBs have lacked the resources to embrace systems that can generate and issue electronic purchase orders. They also often lack the tools to require that their vendors issue electronic invoices. 

The result? A confusing, messy stack of paperwork and PDF documents create serious challenges for the procure-to-pay workflow. Because these formats don’t send electronic data into back-end systems, the data must be manually re-keyed in the back office – tying up valuable time, manpower, and resources. It also leaves lots of room for error.

In the past, business owners have chosen to just make-do with these challenges. But the pandemic has changed everything, forcing business owners to adapt. For many, this has also involved embracing what it means to be truly digital.

“In the past, people were a bit lazy in changing their processes towards digital. Now, with the fact that they have to work from home, they have really shifted their mindset towards digital. They know they have to interact with each other in a fully digital mode. Once you’re in that mindset, then you look for the most optimal way,” says Unifiedpost CEO Hans Leybaert. 

Recent partnerships ease digital transition

Recently, Unifiedpost announced a partnership with Google Cloud. This move joins Google Cloud’s Document Artificial Intelligence (DocAI) and optical character recognition (OCI) technology integrated into Unifiedpost’s existing offering. According to Leybaert, the aim of this integration is fixed on the procure-to-pay process. Another huge benefit is that this optimization of this workflow also addresses invoice fraud.

“They can pay it immediately, without typing in data because it’s already extracted for them,” said Leybaert. “Payments become something natural, almost fully automatic because we do the data extraction and checking of the invoice at the beginning of the process,” he went on to say.

All in all, this option offers businesses many opportunities, from managing and mitigating risks and providing cash flow predictions to monitoring the behavior of payers. So, how can you make sure you have the best systems and processes in place? Find a provider that understands your business’ unique challenges and needs.

The experts at First American Merchant, for example, have years of experience in offering the merchants the solutions they need to prevent fraud, streamline processes and ensure customer satisfaction. Get the account you need in as little as 24 hours.

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