Going paperless can benefit a company in many areas, from customer-facing interactions to internal processes. One of these processes is paying vendors, and while invoice approvals and payment automation are still fairly new to the real estate management industry, they have recently been gaining momentum. There is no shortage of time-consuming, manual and paper-heavy processes for a property manager. Firms that have adopted new technology solutions to help get the job done faster, more accurately and more efficiently have an advantage. E-lease signing and online rent payments are two paperless solutions widely used by commercial real estate companies, so it’s inevitable that accounts payable automation will soon be utilized more broadly as the benefits are very similar.
However, unlike electronic leasing and online rent collection solutions, which have been driven by customer demand, and more recently by safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the transition to paperless invoicing is driven largely by the need for tighter internal controls, more transparency and increased efficiency through workflow automation. Processing paper invoices takes a lot of time, is prone to errors, has a greater potential for fraud and simply can’t accommodate exceptions easily, which can be costly and lead to bigger problems. An automated system with a customized approval workflow leaves a better audit trail by digitizing the invoice’s image, and uses smart technology to pre-populate vendor information and account codes. Managing a massive volume of paper invoices makes it very hard to find the correct invoices and put them together for bank draw requests or audits. With an AP automation solution, historical invoices can be pulled by vendor, GL code, property and date range in seconds.
Full-service AP automation services can facilitate the entire lifecycle of invoice processing—from purchase order to payment to the vendor. Every step in the process can be traced easily, reducing the risk of lost or duplicate invoices and payments, while making sure the vendors are paid timely. This option frees up a lot of time, which allows staff to focus on other things, instead of opening the mail, keying data in manually, and cutting checks. Some firms may elect a more self-service approach, where responsibilities can be allocated so that one person enters the invoice details to kick off an approval workflow, allowing approvers to review the image of the invoice, along with all of the details, and sign off electronically—even on a mobile phone. AP automation creates a system of transparency, checks and balances with tighter control.
While there are many accounts payable solutions out there, it’s important to choose one that is built specifically for the real estate industry, and also integrates with your core property management system and online rent payment solution to keep all accounting information in one place.
SS&C SKYLINE provides total accounts payable automation solutions for the real estate management industry. One single system, fully integrated with core property management, marketing, lease administration and financial reporting solutions. To learn more about how paperless invoice processing can make your office more efficient, download our "A Guide to Paperless Transformation Strategies for Property Management Companies: Why Digitization is a Critical Factor to Success" whitepaper. For more about going paperless in the property management industry, read our blog posts about virtual leasing or online rent payments.
Written by Evan Schmidt
General Manager, SKYLINE