How Invoice-to-Pay Automation Can Help Your Multi-Family Property Business Grow
Few back-office tasks are as burdensome as processing and paying utility bills and supplier invoices.
This is especially true for multi-family property owners.
Accounting staff for multi-family properties spend a lot of their workday keying data, shuffling emails and papers, chasing down utility bills, manually paying and recording payments, fixing errors, and restoring service. Poor integration between payment processes and the multi-family property business’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) or accounting software package further bogs the process down by requiring staff to manually re-enter data, toggle between systems, and reconcile bank statements.
All the time accountants waste on tedious, manual invoice-to-pay tasks is time they cannot spend on higher-order activities. Manual tasks take time away from the type of activities that deliver value and help a multi-family property business grow.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Automating the processing and payment of utility bills and supplier invoices with an integrated invoice-to-pay platform can significantly reduce a multi-family property’s accounting overhead. Additionally, it can free accounts payables staff to focus on things that deliver value and drive growth. This article shows you how.
The biggest multi-family property AP challenges
Processing utility bills and invoices is no small feat for the accounting staff at multi-family properties.
- Volume. The more units a multi-family property has, the more utility bills and invoices it is likely to receive. Manually processing lots of utility bills and invoices can be a Herculean task. Some businesses must hire additional accounting staff as they add more tenants and units.
- Timeliness. Missed deadlines for paying utility bills can result in penalties or service disruptions. To ensure timely payment, accounting staff must keep track of the due dates of utility bills. Plus, slow payments to suppliers can jeopardize a multi-family property’s supply chain.
- Errors. Preventing incorrect and fraudulent charges requires staff to authenticate utility bills. Scrutinizing bills is hard, but it’s even more difficult for companies with multiple utility providers. And resolving billing discrepancies may requires a lot of back-and-forth with utility providers. Ensuring that supplier invoices are correct is not much easier, and the stakes can be even higher.
- Cost allocation. Multi-family properties must establish and meticulously follow fair and transparent rules for allocating utility costs among tenants or units. Consequently, it falls on the shoulders of accounting staff to accurately track energy usage and expenses through proper record-keeping and data management. In some cases, accounting staff may also need to communicate any changes in utility billing procedures to tenants to maintain a positive tenant-landlord relationship. The data from supplier invoices must be carefully coded in the multi-family property’s general ledger to ensure accurate financial reporting and to avoid potential delays to the financial close.
- Rate fluctuations. Accounting staff must watch for rate fluctuations to keep the budget adjusted.
- Regulatory compliance. Complying with local, state, or federal regulations may require the accounting staff at multi-family properties to track the energy usage of their tenants or units. Moreover, multi-family properties must ensure that new suppliers are payable and that tax documents are filed with the government, to stay ahead of regulators and avoid potential fines and penalties.
- Fraud. Bad actors are using increasingly sophisticated schemes to perpetrate payment fraud. From intercepted checks and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to account takeovers and vendor impersonation, the risk of fraud has never been higher for multi-family properties.
No business can afford to have its growth held back by inefficient utility bill and invoice processing. That’s a big reason that more multi-family properties are automating their invoice-to-pay process.
What is invoice-to-pay automation and how does it work?
Imagine if utility bills and supplier invoices could be processed fast, efficiently, and accurately.
Invoice-to-pay automation – integrated platforms that streamline the receipt, processing, payment, and reconciliation of utility bills – makes that vision a reality for multi-family properties.
Here’s how invoice-to-pay automation works:
- Receipt. All utility bills and supplier invoices are automatically collected and aggregated onto a single platform. Some solutions integrate with utility providers or third parties to seamlessly retrieve utility bills. Leading invoice-to-pay solutions will retrieve invoices electronically submitted to an email box, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) landing site, or web-based portal.
- Capture. The amount of the bill or invoice, due dates, and line-item details are extracted with 99.5 percent accuracy, eliminating the need for data entry and the chance of keying errors. Some invoice-to-pay solution use advanced analytics to interrogate the data captured from utility bills.
- Approval. Utility bills and invoices that require review or approval before payment is initiated are digitally routed to the right individual or department, based on pre-configured business rules.
- Verification. Billing and invoice data is compared with pre-defined criteria to catch any discrepancies. Some invoice-to-pay solutions match invoices to POs or delivery receipts.
- Allocation. Utility costs are systematically allocated among a multi-family property’s different units or tenants, based on square footage, occupancy, or other pre-defined allocation rules. Similarly, invoice-to-pay solutions provide real-time visibility into utility expenses and trends. For supplier invoices, general ledger information is automatically captured and verified.
- Archival. Processed bills and invoices are securely stored in a cloud archive. Authorized users can instantly access images and data to respond to inquiries, resolve disputes, or audit payments.
- Payment. A single file from a multi-family property’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) or accounting software package is all it takes to initiate payment on an approved utility bill or supplier invoice, ensuring on-time payment. And accounting staff can set up payment schedules for recurring utility bills or supplier invoices. Invoices can be paid via virtual card, Automated Clearing House (ACH), network payment, ghost card, or check from an integrated platform.
- Reporting. Invoice-to-pay solutions provide decision-makers with real-time visibility into all spending, including utility expenses and usage patterns. Authorized users can effortlessly drill down into invoice data to uncover trends and the source of issues and to project cash needs.
- Compliance. Auditors can easily access records of bills and invoices and track approvals.
These capabilities change the way that multi-family properties process and pay utility bills and invoices.
Benefits of automating invoice-to-pay for multi-family properties
Automating the processing of utility bills and invoices with an invoice-to-pay solution offers big benefits.
- Time savings through the elimination of manual keying, toggling between systems, and lost bills.
- Better accuracy with 99.5 percent accuracy of data captured from utility bills and invoices.
- Reduced costs from fewer late payments and the faster identification of erroneous charges.
- Improved efficiency to free staff to focus more time on higher-value activities.
- Enhanced visibility with real-time insights into corporate spending and the status of payments.
- Increased budget performance with access to historical spending and cash flow trends.
- Seamless integration between the invoice-to-pay platform and any ERP or accounting software.
- Working capital improvements through cash-back rebates on qualifying payments, payment term optimization, more opportunities to capture early pay discounts, and supply chain finance.
- Better utility provider and supplier relationships from timely, accurate payments.
- Scalability that can support more units and tenants without hiring additional staff.
The benefits of invoice-to-pay automation do a lot more than improve accounts payable efficiency. Invoice-to-pay automation supports the growth and success of a multi-family property business.
Growth is a top priority of many multi-family properties. By automating the processing of utility bills and supplier invoices with an invoice-to-pay platform, multi-family properties can reduce overhead, streamline accounts payable processes, and free staff to focus more time on growth-generating activities.
Edenred Pay, an Edenred Company, is the global leader in invoice-to-pay automation. Our integrated platform connects businesses with suppliers, ERPs, banks, FinTechs, and payment rails to automate, optimize, and monetize the entire B2B payments lifecycle – from invoice receipt through payment reconciliation. Edenred Pay’s efficient, integrated solutions create a frictionless process and help deliver value to the enterprise by enhancing visibility and monetizing AP.