Managing Accounts Payable (AP) is a critical task for every business, but it can often be a lengthy and monotonous process. With a multitude of steps involved, from the receipt of invoices to payment processing, even the slightest error or delay in the AP workflow can lead to frustration. However, the emergence of technology has made it possible to streamline these processes and increase efficiency with Accounts Payable workflow automation.
In this article, we will delve into the ways Google Workspace can aid in the automation of AP workflows. We will be using Google Workspace as our foundation and leverage zenphi to be the engine for the automated processes.
Zenphi is the only no-code process automation platform built specifically for Google Workspace apps like Forms, Drive, Gmail, Docs, you name it. Sign up for free.
Set up Google Workspace Assets for Accounts Payable Workflow Automation
First of all, let’s map out the AP process and prepare some starting assets in Google Workspace to automate them further in zenphi.
Step 1: Receiving invoices
The first step in Accounts Payable (AP) automation is receiving invoices. Ensuring they are organized in a consistent manner makes them easy to find and access related data when required.
Google Workspace allows you to create an email alias specifically for invoices. Share this address with vendors so all invoices go to one place, making it easier to track payments and keep them all in one spot.
Alternatively, you can create a Google Form for invoice submission. It can be tailored to include all the required data.
Step 2: Review and approve
Once an invoice is received, the next step is to review and approve it. With Google Drive, you can create a centralized repository for invoices, where multiple team members can review and approve them. At this stage, let’s create a folder in Drive and make a list of people typically involved in the approval process.
Step 3: Payment processing
When an invoice has been approved, it’s time to process the payment. Payment processing involves verifying that the payment amount is correct, ensuring that the payment is made on time, and updating the accounting system to reflect the payment. At this step, let’s create a Google Sheet to track key invoice details, such as status, date, and cost center.
Accounts Payable Workflow Automation with zenphi
Now that all of the assets are ready, let’s begin automating.
Create a new Space for Account Payable Workflow Automation
Click the “Create Space” button and select “Empty Space”. You’ll use this space to manage all assets related to your automated process.
Create a Flow
At zenphi, we call an automated workflow a “Flow”. It consists of a trigger — an event that sets off the Flow execution — and subsequent actions.
Set up a Trigger
Choose a suitable trigger event from the list based on how you opted to receive the invoices. As an example, let’s use the email arrival trigger.
Now, you’re in the Flow Designer – that’s where you’ll build your workflow. The left panel has all the actions you can use in the process.
But first, let’s finish setting up the Trigger. Click on the gear icon and you’ll see the Trigger settings in the right panel. There, you need to configure the Connection with your Gmail account. Just click on Plus, authorize the access, select the account, and you’re done.
Save the File in Google Drive
The next step would be saving the email attachment to the Google Drive folder we created earlier. For that, we’re going to use two actions:
- Save File
- Foreach item (to perform the “Save File” action for all the attachments in the letter)
The actions setup is pretty straightforward – authorizing a Google Drive account and selecting the Folder. See the more detailed instruction here.
Set up an approval workflow
Zenphi simplifies the process of creating complex approval workflows with the “Assign Task” action. By utilizing this function, the assignee can conveniently provide feedback directly from the email, and we can then utilize their response within the workflow. Furthermore, we can create separate branches for instances when the invoice is approved or rejected. Follow this comprehensive tutorial to set up this action seamlessly.
Of course, if you have your own task management system in place, like Jira, Trello, Asana, or others, you can easily integrate them with zenphi.
Harness the power of AI
With zenphi’s powerful AI functionality, you can easily extract the needed data from the received invoice and automatically put it into the required system, for example, a Google Sheet. Watch this 10-min video on how to set up an AI model that will transfer the data from the invoice to Google Sheets.
As previously mentioned, you have the flexibility to store your data in any location that suits your needs, including the built-in Zenphi Tables. The advantages of utilizing Tables include the ability to automatically generate process reports and dashboards. Discover how to leverage this feature with this informative guide.
Process the invoice
Upon approval of the invoice, you can assign a task to the appropriate team for processing and verifying the accuracy of all data. You can easily do this with the same “Assign Task” action, integrate with other task management systems, or link to the system used for invoice payment processing with HTTP call actions.
Test and Publish the Flow
It’s crucial to test your workflow to ensure seamless performance prior to publishing it. After you are satisfied with the test results, you can Publish the Flow.
If you’d like to learn more, here’s a webinar recording to learn how to automate invoice routing and approval end-to-end.
In conclusion, Accounts Payable workflow automation with Google Workspace and zenphi can significantly benefit businesses by improving efficiency and reducing errors and delays.
In this guide, we’ve learned how to:
- Organize all the invoices most efficiently;
- Utilize AI to offload the manual data entry;
- Create powerful approval workflows;
- Assign tasks to process the payments without errors.
If you’d like advice or assistance with setting up your own automated AP workflows or processes, please reach out to zenphi’s Success team any time, or schedule a tailored 1:1 demo for an obligation-free chat.