A keyboard with Manual Work and then Automate It! in bright green

Why K-12 accounts payable teams should embrace automation

If you're looking to increase efficiency and make teachers happy, look no further

My team determined our longstanding manual processes no longer had the agility and accuracy that are required to redirect costs with spending and comply with complex regulatory standards, so we turned to automation. By investing in SAP Concur for our travel, expense, and invoice needs, we were able to reach three very common AP goals:

1. Improve efficiency: By moving employee-reimbursement programs to an automated or cloud-based system, we almost immediately realized considerable time savings as well as a reduction in errors. Even more important, employees received their reimbursements sooner because we were able to streamline the process.

2. Gain visibility: You don’t know what you don’t know. Our manual systems didn’t allow real-time visibility into what was being spent. In fact, there were often expenses that didn’t show up until the end of the year. With an automated system, we can track expenses that will have an impact on our larger budget, allowing us to better manage budget. For example, we are now able to better track unexpected non-purchase-order expenses like reimbursements and stipends for district staff.

3. Automation to ensure compliance: The paper-driven system, used for nearly $150 million annually, didn’t allow full visibility of spend across our 57 schools. With an automated system, we now have the controls in place to quickly detect potentially fraudulent requests and data-entry errors, while also meeting compliance standards. In fact, we’ve been able to reduce compliance failures and eliminate 60 percent of travel and expense errors. In turn, our team can enforce existing policies, which yielded fewer rejections of expense reports and led to more successful audit outcomes.

Automation empowers school districts of all staff and budget sizes to redirect costs to mission-critical needs, and in the case of AP, optimize efficiency, reduce fraud and oversights, and uphold critical AP policies. Through automation, our team can now more effectively reduce the amount of potentially fraudulent errors and ineligible expenses, while also successfully tracking payment requests and meeting controls. Over time, we expect to reduce the number of unseen liabilities and lower the total amount of audit rejects received by 50 percent.

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