June 8, 2022

How accounts payable automation can supercharge growth for construction firms.

By David Tierney

Like many other industries, construction has taken a hit during the pandemic. With the cost of materials rising, an ongoing skills shortage and the property market softening, your firm is not alone in seeking ways to cut costs and find efficiencies in uncertain times.

With so many challenges facing the industry, reducing the pressure on staff and finding ways to save on time and costs is key. While automating your accounts payable process might not be the first solution that comes to mind, you’ll be surprised to learn how AP automation tools could save time, money and resources for your business.

Let’s talk about the challenges facing construction firms

Sourcing materials

Due to global procurement and supply chain issues, it’s harder than ever to secure high-quality building materials. When you do find what you need for the job, it’s now more expensive to buy them. This not only affects your bottom line. It also impacts scheduling, project management and client relations, where expectation management is key.

Site organisation

The nature of the industry means that your workforce is distributed across multiple sites. With workers in head office, at different worksites or frequently travelling, it’s not always easy to make informed decisions. Documents enter from multiple entry points and approvers are often working away, increasing the risk of late or lost payments.

Securing skilled labour

Two years of closed borders have affected the number of skilled workers in the construction industry. The rise of remote work has also seen trained and licensed tradespeople leaving the industry. It’s not easy to find workers with the right level of skills and experience when you need them, pushing up costs and increasing the admin burden.

Managing contractors

Utilising sub-contractors is a way of life for many businesses in construction. While this helps your firm quickly adjust your workforce as needed, it also adds a level of complexity to invoicing. Having to stay on top of different hourly rates can be tricky. And, with more contractors comes more paperwork and physical documents to manage.

Cultivating relationships

Whether you’re working with clients, corporate stakeholders or different teams of contractors, good relationships are key to successful projects. Without a clear view of critical data and documentation, it’s hard to build trust and work effectively with stakeholders. This can lead to misunderstandings, reverse workflows and extra admin.

The truth about AP automation

Streamlining accounts payable offers a way for construction firms to tackle these challenges. Eliminating manual handling of invoices streamlines the payment process, saving valuable time and money. Instead of wasting time with data entry and trying to manage random bits of paper, your team can spend time building relationships and improving processes.

With all documents digitised, it’s easy to track and action payments, helping you cultivate trust with all stakeholders. This also positions you with contractors as an organised payer, giving them more reason to stick with you for future jobs. The boost to your bottom line will also help offset some of the rising costs coming from supply chain issues.

How AP automation works

AP automation allows you to capture invoices and other supporting documents digitally, so you’ll never lose a paper invoice again. Harnessing intelligent document processing (IDP), invoices can be automatically classified, verified and routed to approvers, bypassing time-consuming data entry and validation.

If the system identifies an issue (such as a duplicate invoice), this can be routed to an AP expert for further investigation. Once resolved, the invoice returns to the automated process, harnessing intelligent workflows to move through the process with minimum intervention. Real-time syncing with accounting systems ensures up-to-date financial info is always available.

Benefits of AP automation for construction firms

Access documents anywhere

AP automation allows you to approve and process invoices wherever you are - whether on-site, at home, or on the road. Harnessing a powerful document management system, simply use an internet-enabled device to access invoices and supporting information whenever you need them. This reduces invoice processing times and limits the risk of late payments.

Strengthen stakeholder relationships

With access to AP automation, there’s less chance of late payments, duplicate invoices or missing records getting between you and your clients. Workflow automation tools ensure that no task is omitted or forgotten while admins can create business rules to flag important documents for review and approval. This helps build greater trust with all stakeholders.

Eliminate paper records

One of the more painful parts of construction is dealing with paper invoices. Moving between worksites results in paperwork often being lost or damaged. With AP automation, every invoice and document is digitised and electronically tracked. This removes the need for site workers or stakeholders to print or fax forms or carry paper copies, keeping your accounting records safe.

Increase project oversight

Digital imaging solutions, workflow automation, seamless software integration and an easy-access electronic records management system help you keep track of your finances. AP automation provides real-time access to all records and increased project oversight, giving you more control over your business and a clearer view of your financial position.

Boost productivity

You can eliminate the need for data entry by digitally scanning all invoices and documents that come through your door. You can save even more time by harnessing AP automation tools to pre-populate and validate critical information on contracts, invoices and work orders. This not only speeds up processing but helps your team work on higher-value business-critical tasks.

Enhanced document security

Enable digital access to invoices and supporting documentation with AP automation to control authorised access to information. Track access for audit purposes and assign individual, group, or system-wide permissions to ensure confidential contracts and invoices can only be viewed, edited and actioned by authorised personnel.

Discover how AP automation could transform your construction business

Umlaut are leaders in automating processes for construction firms. We know you’re too busy to keep up with manual accounts payable processes. Especially when managing multiple sites. Our automated AP solution is tailored to meet the needs of growing construction businesses to unlock savings, provide greater transparency and make it easier to work remotely.

Umlaut’s full suite of AP automation solutions leverages the power of intelligent data capture, artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline complex AP processing. Talk to us about how we can help your construction firm reduce costs and supercharge growth.

Want to learn more about AP automation for the construction industry? The experienced team at Umlaut is ready to lead the way. Book a demo to see how our suite of AP Tools can streamline and transform the way you do business.

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