Automating approvals can be very difficult for small- and medium-sized businesses since there are usually no efficient systems in place for handling approvals. When designing and implementing your AI platform, this has to be taken into account.
Do you have a technology platform that can receive, extract, and understand incoming costs? If you're already using an approval system today with one of Vic.ai’s integrated systems like Bill.com, we recommend keeping it there. But what if you don't have a good approval process implemented at all?
Define the Company’s Approval Process for AI to Follow
AI paves the way for a more efficient, automated, approval workflow. Since the AI is working 24/7 without any time delay, approval flow will be generated continuously based on the company's approval workflow.
You’ll see an almost immediate improvement. AI will interpret and understand each cost. Based on the company’s approval workflow, AI will route invoices to the correct person for approval. And this happens within seconds of receiving the bill. You’ll have no time spent, no time lost, and no opportunity for errors.
Reduce Email Risks
Email is how most approvals happen today. The invoice comes through an accounts payable staff member who sends the invoice to another person's email inbox. That person replies with a yes for approval.
But what happens when approval request emails are overlooked? What happens when there are email problems, malware, or other cybersecurity issues, like phishing attacks, that the company is facing? Even under the best circumstances, what kind of audit trail do you really have when you're using email as an approval platform?
Most approvals today happen via email. This is a widespread approval management problem that AI addresses.
Mobile App on the Front-End
The majority of the approval process can be automated by shifting the approval location. The system handles approvals with the right back-end AI platform and a mobile app on the front-end. Approvals can be managed on-the-go when clients have extra time.
The client receives a push notification for any incoming approvals that are required. Clients can then review and approve or find items in the invoice queue from their phone, tablet, notebook, or desktop. Clients can also add comments.
As a client approves pending invoices from their mobile app, each invoice and any comments are automatically routed to the next person in the approval workflow. That next person can see that the first person has approved the invoice, thereby creating an audit trail. The person responsible for making the payment can also see the audit trail and comments to ensure that the company is paying the correct amount. The company can also make sure that it isn't paying vendors that it shouldn't be paying.
Learning Over Time from Clients’ Approvals
Most approval headaches go away once you have a well-defined approval workflow and an AI platform to support the approval process.
When evaluating your options among available AI platforms, finding out if the technology can interpret an invoice and start the approval process automatically is a key consideration.
The AI platform should be able to monitor and learn from all invoices and costs that get approved, comparing the data to those that were declined. And the AI should suggest how approvals are handled. The accounts payable staff and approvers gain superpowers as AI indicates a course of action.
How do you primarily handle approvals today? Is it based on passing around paper documents, emailing documents, an online file cabinet, rules-based approval software, or an automated, AI-driven approval platform? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
To learn how CPAs and bookkeeping firms are transforming, watch the webinar recording on “AI Best Practices for CPAs and Bookkeepers (How Accounting and Bookkeeping Firms Can Grow with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning).”