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How to maximize city budgeting in your AP process

October 28 2020

Written by: Erik Modh

Municipalities in the United States and Canada are facing new challenges when it comes to making the most of city budgeting while prioritizing citizen needs. In the changing landscape, process efficiency is everything for becoming and staying future-proof. A simple shift in the AP process can give back more budget, fewer errors, more time, and better transparency with citizens.

Is your AP process costing your city’s budget?

When you work for a local government, you know that every dollar in city budgeting counts. After all, ensuring the budget is aligned to meet citizen expectations is no simple task.

One of the most scalable, sustainable, and impactful ways to do this is to make your processes as efficient as possible. An efficient process turns a time-intensive routine into a budget-saving machine. And the process that can make one of the biggest impacts is your AP process.

Effective city budgeting starts with data

A traditional AP process is burdened with more than enough manual work and not enough data to help you see the full picture. Without all the necessary invoice information, you’re not getting the visibility you need to make the smartest decisions with government spend. Low visibility leads to unsound purchases and not enough time to make good financial decisions. Lastly, each invoice costs money which gets taken out of your city’s budget.

In short, what you gain with proper invoice entry is visibility.

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So how can you overcome these challenges? The key is to focus on the very first step of your AP process – invoice data entry.

Getting correct invoice information from a vendor and into your financial system sets up your whole AP process up for success. With the right information, you can answer questions such as:

  • What are we buying?

  • How much are we buying?

  • Are we buying from the right vendor?

  • Are we aligned with our budget?

  • Where can we optimize cost efficiency?

In short, what you gain with proper invoice entry is visibility. With greater data visibility, you can better analyze your spend to confidently answer all of these questions listed above, avoid discrepancies and make overall smarter spending decisions. As a result, you will be able to be more transparent with citizens and show that your city budgeting process benefits your people.

The right tools do the work for you

Now that we’ve talked about some of the benefits, how can you resourcefully accomplish getting all the right data into your system? The answer is to find tools that do the work for you.

How do you manage your invoice entry today? Do you:

  • Spend an afternoon each week processing invoices?

  • Manually type in invoice information into your ERP?

  • Access just header-level data on your invoice?

  • Rely on being in the office to process invoices?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you’re missing out on critical spend decisions that cut costs and save time. It may be time to reevaluate how you can make your city budgeting processes more efficient.

Technology streamlines your work to get tedious, error-prone tasks done correctly. Software like optical character recognition (OCR), while helpful for scanning invoices, can still result in errors and doesn’t capture all the information you need from an invoice.

The right tools give back resources, increase ROI and better help you accomplish your goals.

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Therefore, I recommend cloud technology to take on the very first step of the AP process of getting complete and accurate data electronically into your financial or AP workflow system.

Benefit by recognizing room for improvement

While municipalities may think that current processes and systems can do the job just fine, it’s important to remember that a process is not truly working if it creates more work and costs for you.

The right tools give back resources, increase ROI and better help you accomplish your goals. For example, if you use a tool that help you enter your invoices electronically, you can:

  • Go paperless and pay as low as a $1 per invoice

  • Access all essential invoice data down to line-level

  • Gather analytics to help you spend smarter

  • Reduce or eliminate exception handling

  • Automate and enable approval and PO matching

  • Work better from anywhere

  • Improve collaboration with your vendors

Better visibility leads to better transparency

Overall, visibility leads to smarter decisions. And better visibility and spend decisions will help reach your goal of gaining transparency with your citizens. At the end of the day, improved, more efficient city budgeting processes begin with the right data.

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