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Put Incremental Improvements on Hold and Modernize Your Accounts Payable Process in 2023

Modernize Your Accounts Payable Process in 2023

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Are you struggling with manual invoice processing? Does book closures during the end of month, end of a quarter or end of a year give you and your teams a nightmare? Does your Accounts Payable (AP) process lacks visibility into maverick spend and compliance? Are your AP executives overworked and feel burnt out doing the same work?

Then these are signs and symptoms of deeper and more serious challenges.

For years, you have probably applied every productivity improvement hack. Conducted work time and motion studies to extract the last ounce of productivity, done process re-engineering to optimize time-consuming processes and improve the effectiveness of your team. Possibly also created a joint task force with the procurement team to simplify the n-way matching of invoices and drive compliance of the no-PO, no payment policy.

In the past decade, many organizations have also tried one or more of these strategic initiatives:

  1. Centralize Accounts Payable process function globally to a global capability center (GCC) or a shared services center
  2. Outsourcing Accounts Payable process function to a third-party vendor
  3. Automate parts of the invoicing process using OCR tools or IDP vendors (intelligent document processing) solutions.

These have surely provided significant gains in productivity. However, each of these options has its own shortcomings. Particularly, during the COVID-19 pandemic-led “work from anywhere” disruptions and subsequent great resignation, GCCs and outsourcing vendors were not able to sustain their business models. It is however time to put incremental improvements on hold and modernize your AP function in 2023.

Modernize with Merlin AP Smart Desk

Zycus’ Merlin AP Smart Desk is an AI-powered invoice extraction and supplier communications accounts payable solution that provides fully automated and AI-powered two & three-way matching, contract & payment terms compliance guidance, and full visibility into spend.

AP Automation Business Process Flow

Merlin AP Smart Desk connects to your company email inbox and checks the emails to simplify the process of response to each email. If it’s a supplier query, Merlin AP Smart Desk automatically suggests replies for the queries which makes life easier for your AP team. If the email contains an invoice, the system automatically extracts it and sends it to Zycus eInvoice module, where the invoice goes through a two-way/three-way matching with the PO, which is extracted from the eProcurement module. Post matching the invoices are sent for approval and approved invoices are paid on time. Merlin AP smart Desk ensures improved supplier communications and improved accounts payable process efficiency via automation of email review and reply process. Auto classification of emails, auto replies and auto identification of supporting documents along with proactive fraud detection significantly improve invoice processing efficiency.

To know more on Merlin AI, read: Merlin AI Platform: 3 Things You Should Know Right Now!

Let’s dive into why this is the best AP automation solution for your organization

How the Merlin AP Smart Desk Works?

The Merlin AI Smart Desk automates the entire invoice cycle from start to finish. It begins by automatically extracting data from invoices sent via emails. This eliminates manual data entry and OCR issues while also reducing errors in the process. Once the data has been extracted, it can be automatically matched against Purchase Orders (PO) or contracts—eliminating manual matching processes that are often tedious and time consuming. Where escalations or manual interventions are required, the Smart Desk allows the AP executive to override the tool or send the invoice for escalation approvals.

In addition to eliminating manual processes, the Merlin AI Smart Desk also provides visibility into maverick spend and compliance by providing payment terms guidance based on contracts or PO commitments. This is especially beneficial for businesses that have a decentralized purchasing process as it gives AP teams full visibility into their spending patterns.

The key benefits of AP Automation

The greatest benefit of automation is efficiency—it frees up valuable time for AP teams who would otherwise be bogged down in tedious manual tasks. In our customer value studies, AP teams are able to save 40-60% of their time across various repetitive and manual activities. This time can be employed to do more strategic work.

Accounts Payable Benchmarking Survey 2022

Source : IOFM 2022 Accounts Payable Benchmarking Survey

Looking at PO invoices paid on time as a function of invoice volume with respect to the IOFM data , we see that larger organizations are able to do this all the time, and more often than their smaller counterparts. However, smaller organizations do somewhat better if you look at the aggregated data for those who pay on time with 90% or higher frequency.

Non PO Accounts Payable Benchmarking Survey 2022

Source: IOFM 2022 Accounts Payable Benchmarking Survey

When the payment promptness for non-PO invoices is correlated with invoice volume, we see that this poses the greatest challenge for organizations dealing with high volume of invoices. This is likely because these invoices require research to determine approvers and get their sign-off, which may be more difficult in large organizations.

Automation reduces human error, which can be a major issue when dealing with high volumes of invoices or complex data sets. Finally, automation ensures consistency in an otherwise chaotic environment; every invoice gets processed exactly the same way, every single time, thereby eliminating any potential discrepancies between invoices.

To know more on how AP automation can be a business driver for your organization, read: How organizations can use AP Automation as a strategic business driver.


To sum up, automating your invoice process with the Merlin AP Smart Desk will save you time while increasing accuracy and providing complete visibility into your spending patterns. It eliminates manual processes, such as data entry and matching while providing payment terms guidance based on contracts or PO commitments to allow you to focus on more strategic objectives instead of being bogged down by tedious tasks. Investing in automation will pay off in spades over time; streamlining your AP processes not only increases efficiency, but also directly impacts organizational success and profitability. Explore and discover how to build an AI-led AP Automation machinery in your organization with a free demo of Zycus’ AP Automation Suite.


Top 7 KPIs in 2023
for Enhancing Accounts Payable Performance

IOFM Accounts Payable Benchmarking Report