For a while, vendor portals were great because A/R staffers didn’t have to spend so much time on the phone with your customers’ A/P departments to check the status of invoices or track a purchase order.
However, over time your A/R staff may have accumulated so many login credentials for all the portals they use that it’s challenging to keep track of them all. In addition, using multiple A/P networks to send invoices can be an obstacle to creating a standard billing process.
A possible time-saving solution is robotic process automation (RPA) Finance software that allows digital agents – or bots – to log into a portal and upload or retrieve information instead of a human.
How RPA can streamline vendor portal access
RPA bots turn the typical self-service process for web-based portals into a zero-service approach.
An RPA bot can be signaled by another task or workflow (e.g., a bank payment or A/P portal form) to access a vendor portal, or a series of portals, using any authentication required, such as the URL, username and password.
RPA bots are also helpful for uploading and locating data or documents. This can include navigating to new documents since the bot’s last visit, or to new fields of interest for data entry or indexing.
Bots can even bypass vendor portals entirely if necessary. For example, bots can forward invoice PDFs to an A/P email address, enter info in another application or initiate tasks in financial processing software.
What to look for in a solution
If you’re looking to automate vendor portal navigation for your A/R team via RPA, ask your potential software provider if the product:
- converts invoices to the formats your customers prefer and sends them to the appropriate receiver
- recognizes key phrases in communication, like “three weeks from today,” and can act on a command, such as “please send the invoice,” and
- recognizes dispute correspondence from a customer and notifies a staffer that attention from a human is necessary.
According to Gartner’s 2021 Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation, the leaders in the RPA field right now are UIPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and Microsoft.