Sep 03 2018

How Automation Can Help State and Local Government Focus on Their Mission

Cloud-based, automated systems for invoices can save time and allow government employees to concentrate on improving services for residents.

When most people think of artificial intelligence, they think about robots, self-driving cars or Amazon Echo. They don’t think about the millions of small ways that automation will transform the way they live and work, and that includes how state and local governments process invoices.

Streamlining rudimentary processes like invoice approval is one of the fastest, easiest and most effective ways to improve state and local government and allow employees to focus on their mission, and it will be accomplished through automation.

Because state and local governments face tight budgets, they require a high level of transparency and control over how and where employees spend taxpayer resources. They are also heavily scrutinized on the quality of the citizen services they provide, forcing agencies to focus on how every taxpayer dollar is spent. Despite these demands, very few state and local government agencies have adopted automated software to track and process invoices and expenses.

Software Automation Tools Help Agencies Gain Efficiencies

In a recent survey conducted by Concur and GovLoop, only 16 percent of state and local respondents said they use a cloud-based, automated system to submit invoices. Using pen and paper to process invoices creates challenges for government agencies because that typically takes longer to complete, is more expensive when the cost of human capital is factored in, and leads to data entry errors, making compliance difficult. By embracing automation tools, agencies can streamline processes and save time and money.

Finance and accounting teams are vital to an any government organization, and automation is the key to helping them do their job more effectively and accurately. By automating invoice processing, agencies can eliminate piles of paperwork, drastically reduce processing time and — because these systems can integrate invoices with travel and expense payments — get a complete view to monitor and manage all spending, making it easier to track and control when payments are made.

Developing this type of control and visibility enables agency finance teams to stay on top of spend and cash flows, turning the department into a hub of financial insights.

With automation, agencies can do more with less: They can capture electronic invoices or turn paper invoices into electronic files, which will trim staff time spent processing paperwork and reduce the risk of errors or double-payment. It can also help match invoices, purchase orders and goods received, which is an extremely error-prone, time-intensive process.

Everything an agency pays for can be automatically verified against what it receives; mismatched figures, errors and exceptions are flagged before payments go out the door. That provides actionable insights before, during and after the money’s spent.

Outdated and slow invoice systems can also frustrate employees and hurt agency morale. Outdated technology can prevent government agencies from attracting millennials to open positions, because younger employees expect to have adequate technology and resources to perform their job.

According to IDC, automation can help organizations process invoices 53 percent faster and help staff spend 68 percent less time on processing. Modernization puts employees in the driver seat, resulting in higher productivity and accountability while improving the user experience.

Now is the time for state and local governments to invest in the people, processes and technology that will fuel their digital transformation.

Digitizing and automating invoice processes can help state and local agencies save money, increase productivity and improve delivery of government services.

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